BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In a dual that came down to the final bout, top-ranked junior heavyweight Zach Rey won an 8-0 major decision over Oney Snyder to lead No. 17 Lehigh to a 17-15 upset against No. 1 Cornell in the 2011 Sheridan Dual Thursday night at Stabler Arena. The teams split 10 bouts, but the Mountain Hawks earned the only two bonus points of the match en route to their first-ever win against a top-ranked team.
“We wrestled hard tonight and I’m proud of our guys,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “We knew it was a big dual. Cornell was coming off a big win, but seven minutes of wrestling is the only way to win matches. Being at home helped a lot. The energy was great tonight and the guys really responded. The guys were feeding off each other which you need to do in a dual meet.”
The win improved Lehigh to 10-5 overall and 2-1 against EIWA opponents while Cornell suffered its first dual loss, falling to 5-1.
Cornell jumped to an early 3-0 lead as Frank Perrelli won a 9-3 decision against senior Mitch Berger at 125. Berger, like the four other Mountain Hawks to lose on the evening, did well to limit the damage to a regular decision.
Lehigh’s true freshmen came through to give Lehigh a 7-3 lead after three bouts. At 133 Frank Cagnina was dominant, racking up five takedowns and a reversal to earn a 13-4 major decision against Joe Stanzione.
In one of the key swing bouts of the night Stephen Dutton rallied late to stun Corey Manson 8-5 at 141. Dutton and Manson traded first period takedowns to tie the bout at 3-3 after one. Dutton escaped to open the second period but was taken down in the final seconds and trailed 5-4 going into the third. In the final period, Dutton looked like he was going to ride out against Manson to earn the riding time point and send the match to sudden victory, but in the final seconds Dutton used a turk ride and cross face to turn Manson for three near fall points which propelled the freshman to an 8-5 win.
The Big Red crept within a point at 7-6 as top-ranked Kyle Dake defeated Joey Napoli 3-2 at 149. Napoli controlled the pace and was the aggressor throughout the match, but a first-period takedown was enough for Dake to prevail.
The lead in the dual changed after each of the final six bouts, beginning at 157 where D.J. Meagher won a 5-1 decision against Sean Bilodeau to give Cornell a 9-7 lead at intermission. Meagher scored an early takedown and added a two point near fall when Bilodeau called for injury time. He spent most of the match on top as he accumulated five minutes of riding time in the win.
In Lehigh’s loss to Navy last Saturday the Mountain Hawks lost three consecutive one-point decisions to lower or unranked wrestlers from 165 to 184 pounds. It was a much different story on Thursday with Lehigh winning two of those three bouts, upsetting two higher ranked matmen in the process.
Junior Brandon Hatchett won his rubber match at 165 pounds with third-ranked Justin Kerber 3-2. Hatchett scored a first-period takedown and wrestled a smart tactical match in the final two periods to earn the victory.
At 174, freshman Austin Meys gave No. 2 Mack Lewnes all he could handle. The match was tied at 1-1 deep into the third before Lewnes finally scored a takedown and went on to win 4-1.
The most anticipated bout of the night came at 184 pounds where sixth-ranked sophomore Robert Hamlin met No. 4 Steve Bosak. The Big Red junior scored a takedown in the first period and led 2-1, but Hamlin recorded a takedown late in the second period to tie the match at 3-3. After choosing neutral in the third, Hamlin picked up the winning takedown late in the period to prevail 5-4 and give Lehigh a 13-12 lead with two bouts remaining.
“It’s that time of year,” Santoro said. “Everyone’s beaten up and bruised. Sometimes it’s a call here or a score there at the end of a period that makes a difference. It was big for the program, big for our guys because it was a tough two weekends in a row.”
Cornell regained the lead temporarily as top-ranked Cam Simaz edged junior Joe Kennedy 2-0 at 197. The only scoring of the match came on a third period Simaz escape plus close to two minutes of riding time.
Needing a win from Rey to take the dual, Lehigh’s All-American did just that while adding a bonus point for the major decision win. Rey moved to 20-0 on the season with a takedown in each period plus an escape and riding time advantage.
“Any time you beat the number one team it’s important,” Santoro said. “We have a ways to go. We’ve still got two months of training. Some individuals have to get better in certain positions, but the fight is there and that’s the one thing I thought we were lacking the last two weeks. We fought really hard tonight.”