CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – With eight place winners and 104.5 team points, the Lehigh wrestling team posted an impressive third place finish as the 2016 Defense Soap and Flips Wrestling wrapped up Saturday night at the McKenzie Arena. Senior Nathaniel Brown reached the finals at 184 to lead Lehigh individually, but ran into nemesis Gabe Dean, who won an 8-2 decision to claim his third career Southern Scuffle title.
The Mountain Hawks had three place winners at 157, with freshman Ian Brown taking third, junior Mitch Minotti fourth and sophomore Drew Longo eighth. Freshman Ryan Preisch finished fourth at 165 in his first Scuffle.
Sophomore Darian Cruz placed fifth at 125 while senior Max Wessell finished fifth at 285. Senior John Bolich also reached the podium with a sixth place finish at 197.
As a team, Lehigh scored 104.5 points, to best fourth place Cornell by six. Penn State won the team title with 183 points while Oklahoma State finished second with 158.
"It was a really good tournament for us," Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro said. "Everybody wrestled hard. We're getting a little better each week. We still have a lot of work to do leading into March. We have to get healthy after this week. We have two big matches this coming weekend so we have to get ready. This tournament is a feeder for the post season and was a good tournament overall."
Nathaniel Brown advanced to the finals with a 4-1 decision over Alex Utley of North Carolina and then a 5-3 win over Lorenzo Thomas of Penn. His finals match with Dean turned in the second period when leading 1-0 he was forced to take an injury timeout. Dean escaped to tie the match then added a stalling point and a takedown in the second period to lead 4-1 after two. In the third, Dean escaped and recorded a second takedown and stalling point in an 8-2 win.
"You can't lose any momentum when wrestling Gabe Dean," Santoro said. "He's obviously very good. Every time out there you learn something and Nate is a guy who is always willing to learn. He picks something up every time he wrestles."
Lehigh's three place winners at 157 included two semifinalists, as Minotti used a cement mixer to pin Wyoming's Archie Colgan in 1:33 and Ian Brown scored a late takedown to upend No. 3 seed Luke Smith of Central Michigan 7-6. Both men bounced back from semifinal losses to reach the third place match. Minotti needed a takedown in sudden victory to beat Penn State's Zach Beitz 5-3, while Brown dominated Army West Point's Russell Parsons 12-2. The third place match did not take place as Minotti medically forfeited to Brown.
Longo won three straight consolation matches in the morning to place at 157, including a come-from-behind 14-11 win over Kamaal Shakur of Chattanooga in the placement round. After a loss to Parsons in the consolation quarterfinals, Longo wrestled Smith for seventh place but fell 3-1 on a third period takedown.
"They've been pushing each other every day and trying to make each other better," Santoro said of his 157-pounders. "They're not just trying to better themselves but they're pushing each other and they want to see each other do well, which is really nice to see."
Preisch began the day in the quarterfinals against top ranked Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State and bounced back from a loss by fall with three straight consolation wins. A 3-1 win over Shakur Rasheed of Penn State clinched a spot in the top eight. Preisch also scored two takedowns in a 5-0 blanking of Cornell's Duke Pickett in the consolation semifinals. He had to settle for fourth place after falling 3-1 in sudden victory to North Carolina's John Michael Staudenmayer.
Darian Cruz went 2-2 on Saturday with both wins coming by major decision over Michigan redshirt Austin Assad. A 16-3 major sent Cruz to the semis where he dropped a tight 6-3 match to Penn State's Nico Megaludis. In the consolation semifinals, Cruz met former Bethlehem Catholic teammate Zeke Moisey of West Virginia. Cruz had the only takedown of the bout, but a four point near fall for Moisey early in the third period was the difference in a 6-4 win. A 10-2 major over Assad clinched fifth place for Cruz.
Wessell avenged a quarterfinal loss to Cleveland State's Riley Shaw by beating the Viking 4-1 in the fifth place match. In the earlier meeting, a first period four point throw did in Wessell but in the rematch, he scored a double leg takedown in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and rode out for the victory. Wessell clinched a spot in the top eight with a win over his Lehigh teammate, junior Doug Vollaro. The bout went into overtime with Wessell leading 2-1 in the second half of the first tiebreaker. Vollaro suffered a knee injury on a shot attempt late in the period and defaulted out with an injury. The injury does not appear to be as serious as the one that he suffered in last year's EIWA third place match.
Prior to his match with Wessell, Vollaro reached the placement round with a pair of wins by decision over Central Michigan heavyweights.
After a 2-1 consolation quarterfinal win over Nathan Butler of Stanford, Wessell had a rematch with Minnesota's Michael Kroells, who Wessell beat at the Northeast Duals. The rematch went to Kroells who used a lateral drop in overtime to win 6-4, sending Wessell to the fifth place bout.
Bolich also wrestled back after a quarterfinal loss to reach the podium, posting a 10-1 major decision over Oklahoma State's Preston Weigel in the round of 12. He used a late takedown to beat Parker Hines of Air Force in the consolation quarters before dropping his final two bouts, including a 6-1 loss to Nye in the fifth place match.
In addition to Vollaro, three other Mountain Hawks were eliminated in the placement round of 12.
It took video review to likely deny freshman Cortlandt Schuyler a place in the semifinals at 141. Trailing 5-3 late in the third period in his quarterfinal match with seventh-seed Zach Horan of Central Michigan, Schuyler appeared to hit a four-point move to take a 7-5 lead. Central Michigan challenged the takedown, which was upheld on video review and then challenged the two near fall, which were waived off upon review. Now tied 5-5, Schuyler needed to ride out to force sudden victory but was reversed by Horan who prevailed 7-5. In his round of 12 bout, Schuyler was unable to come back from an early 4-2 hole as he fell 6-5 to West Virginia's Tony DeAngelo.
Junior Laike Gardner came through the consolations at 149 with a pair of close wins by decision but ran out of gas against Stanford's Paul Fox, who racked up four takedowns in a 9-5 decision.
At 197, junior Ben Haas also won his first two bouts, including a late third period pin of Oklahoma State's Andrew Marsden but was eliminated in the placement round by Zach Nye of Virginia 8-4.
The only attached wrestler who failed to make the placement round was junior Randy Cruz, who was taken down in the final seconds of the third period in a 2-1 defeat to Army's Logan Everett.
Freshman Ryan Pomrinca went 1-1 competing unattached at 133 but defaulted out of the tournament Saturday morning due to injury.
The Mountain Hawks will return to dual competition next weekend with a pair of duals against EIWA foes. Lehigh welcomes Navy to Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall on Saturday for a 2 p.m. match. Tickets can be purchased online at LehighTickets.com or by calling 610-7LU-GAME during normal business hours. The Mountain Hawks will visit Penn for a 1 p.m. match on Sunday January 10.
125 – No. 4 seed Darian Cruz – 5th place
Quarterfinal: major dec. Austin Assad (Michigan) 16-3
Semifinal: L by dec. No. 1 Nico Megaludis (Penn St.) 6-3
Consolation semifinal: L by dec. No. 2 Zeke Moisey (West Virginia) 6-4
Fifth place match: major dec. Austin Assad (Michigan) 10-2
133 – Ryan Pomrinca (Unattached)
Fourth round consolation: withdrew
141 – No. 6 Randy Cruz - DNP
Fourth round consolation: L by dec. Logan Everett (Army) 2-1
141 – Cortlandt Schuyler - DNP
Quarterfinal: L by dec. No. 7 Zach Horan (Central Michigan) 7-5
Sixth round consolation: L by dec. Tony DeAngelo (West Virginia) 6-5
149 – No. 7 Laike Gardner - DNP
Fourth round consolation: dec. Jonce Blaylock (Oklahoma St.) 7-5
Fifth round consolation: dec. TJ Miller (Virginia) 3-2
Sixth round consolation: L by dec. No. 9 Paul Fox (Stanford) 9-5
157 – No. 4 Mitch Minotti – 4th place
Quarterfinal: Fall Archie Colgan (Wyoming) 1:33
Semifinal: L by Fall No. 1 Jason Nolf (Penn St.) 2:50
Consolation semifinal: dec. No. 10 Zach Beitz (Penn St.) 5-3, sv
Third place match: medical forfeit to Ian Brown (Lehigh)
157 – Ian Brown – 3rd place
Quarterfinal: No. 3 Luke Smith (Central Michigan) 7-6
Semifinal: L by dec. No. 2 Joe Smith (Oklahoma St.) 12-6
Consolation semifinal: major dec. No. 6 Russell Parsons (Army West Point) 12-2
Third place match: W by medical forfeit No. 4 Mitch Minotti (Lehigh)
157 – Drew Longo – 8th place
Fourth round consolation: dec. Brooks Martino (Penn) 9-5
Fifth round consolation: dec. No. 7 Aaron Walker (The Citadel) 7-5
Sixth round consolation: dec. No. 9 Kamaal Shakur (Chattanooga) 14-11
Consolation quarterfinal: L by dec. No. 6 Russell Parsons (Army West Point) 8-5
Seventh place match: L by dec. No. 3 Luke Smith (Central Mich.) 3-1
165 – No. 8 Ryan Preisch – 4th place
Quarterfinal: L by fall No. 1 Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma St.) 2:17
Sixth round consolation: dec. No. 7 Shakur Rasheed (Penn St.) 3-1
Consolation quarterfinal: dec. Pat Duggan (Campbell) 6-5
Consolation semifinal: dec. No. 3 Duke Pickett (Cornell) 5-0
Third place match: L by dec. JM Staudenmayer (North Carolina) 3-1, sv
184 – No. 2 Nathaniel Brown – 2nd place
Quarterfinal: dec. No. 7 Alex Utley (North Carolina) 4-1
Semifinal: dec. No. 3 Lorenzo Thomas (Penn) 5-3
Final: L by dec. No. 1 Gabe Dean (Cornell) 8-2
197 – Ben Haas - DNP
Fourth round consolation: Fall Andrew Marsden (Oklahoma St.) 6:49
Fifth round consolation: dec. Ben Honis (Finger Lakes) 6-5
Sixth round consolation: L by dec. No. 5 Zach Nye (Virginia) 8-4
197 – No. 6 John Bolich – 6th place
Quarterfinal: L by major dec. No. 3 Brett Pfarr (Minnesota) 10-2
Sixth round consolation: major dec. Preston Weigel (Oklahoma St.) 10-1
Consolation quarterfinal: dec. Parker Hines (Air Force) 4-3
Consolation semifinal: L by dec. No. 4 Jacob Smith (West Virginia) 5-0
Fifth place match: L by dec. No. 5 Zach Nye (Virginia) 6-1
285 – No. 4 Max Wessell – 5th place
Quarterfinals: L by dec. No. 5 Riley Shaw (Cleveland St.) 5-2
Sixth round consolation: injury default Doug Vollaro (Lehigh) 8:39
Consolation quarterfinal: dec. No. 9 Nathan Butler (Stanford) 2-1
Consolation semifinal: L by dec. No. 2 Michael Kroells (Minnesota) 6-4, sv
Fifth place match: dec. No. 5 Riley Shaw (Cleveland St.) 4-1
285 – Doug Vollaro - DNP
Fourth round consolation: dec. Newton Smerchek (Central Mich.) 2-0
Fifth round consolation: dec. Adam Robinson (Central Mich.) 6-3
Sixth round consolation: L by injury default No. 4 Max Wessell (Lehigh) 8:39