BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- For the first time since 2002 the Lehigh wrestling team heads to Iowa as the 23rd-ranked Mountain Hawks meet the fifth-ranked Hawkeyes Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Mountain Hawks are coming off an up-and-down weekend at home where they posted an impressive 34-7 win over Hofstra before stumbling 24-12 against Penn in their EIWA opener. Senior Robert Hamlin, junior Joey Napoli and sophomore Nathaniel Brown were the only three wrestlers to post 2-0 marks last weekend.
Three Mountain Hawks are ranked in the latest Amateur Wrestling News rankings, led by Hamlin, a two-time defending EIWA Champion and All-American, who comes in at No. 2. Hamlin is also ranked third by InterMat and W.I.N. Magazine. Napoli shot into the top ten with wins over top-six opponents from Penn State and Bloomsburg. Sophomore Anthony Salupo moved into the rankings at 141 following his win over Luke Vaith of Hofstra. Brown is not ranked by A.W.N. but is ranked 19th at 174 by InterMat.
One of college wrestling's most storied programs; Iowa has won 23 national championships and 34 Big Ten titles. The Hawkeyes boast another strong team in 2012-13. Iowa has won its first six duals to open the season, including a 32-3 throttling of rival Iowa State Saturday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa also owns wins over Cumberland, Virginia, Chattanooga, SIU-Edwardsville and Cornell College.
Iowa's projected lineup features eight nationally-ranked wrestlers including three men ranked either first or second. The Hawkeyes are led by two-time national champion Matt McDonough at 125, while returning finalist Derek St. John (157) is also ranked No. 1 at his weight class. Returning All-American Tony Ramos comes in at No. 2 at 133, while heavyweight Bobby Telford is also coming off an All-America season and is currently ranked fifth. Iowa finished third at last year's NCAA Championships and recently won three straight national team titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Thursday's dual marks Lehigh's first trip to Iowa since the 2002-03 season. Lehigh has not had a great deal of success in the state of Iowa, winning just twice in 18 road dual meets against Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Cornell College. The Mountain Hawks posted a 40-0 win over Cornell College back in 1972 and also won 21-12 at Iowa State in 2002. Lehigh is 0-13 all-time versus Iowa in Iowa City.
Lehigh and Iowa meet for the 24th time Thursday and the first time since December 2002. The Mountain Hawks have never defeated the Hawkeyes, dropping the previous 23 duals, including all 13 matches contested in Iowa. Lehigh and Iowa met once in 21 consecutive seasons from 1972 to 1992. Iowa is one of eight schools that Lehigh owns zero all-time wins against, but it is the only school in the group Lehigh has wrestled more than two times.
Thursday's match gets underway at 5 p.m. (ET) from Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The match will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehighsports.com with pre-match coverage beginning at 4:45. The match will be Lehigh's final dual of the fall semester. The Mountain Hawks will compete at the Midlands Championships December 29-30 in Evanston, Illinois before returning home to host Cornell on Sunday, January 6 at 2 p.m.