BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Lehigh wrestler Eric Hess has been sidelined from competition indefinitely due to issues stemming from his successful treatment of Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Hess, who has started all six of the Mountain Hawks' duals this season at 165, is in his first season of eligibility for Lehigh. He was previously diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in the spring of 2010 and successfully beat the disease enabling a return to competition.
"It comes with deep sadness to give an update regarding my current state of health," Hess said. "Recently I underwent a series of medical tests concerning several unexplained symptoms that have been occurring throughout this 2012-13 wrestling season."
The medical condition is termed hypoxemia or low blood oxygen, a lower than normal level of oxygen in your blood.
"As many of you are aware, before attending Lehigh University I underwent several chemotherapy and radiation treatments to treat Hodgkin's Lymphoma," Hess said. "My doctors have reassured me that these symptoms are not caused by a recurrence of cancer, however they currently cannot give a definitive prognosis on my condition. My physicians and several specialists have placed me on an indefinite medical leave from the sport of wrestling."
Hess amassed a 155-14 career record wrestling for Benton High School and captured a pair of Pennsylvania AA state championships. After originally signing with Lehigh in 2010, he deferred his enrollment while receiving treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Hess returned to competition in April 2011, going 4-2 in freestyle at University Nationals. He enrolled at Lehigh in the fall of 2011 and deferred his eligibility, posting a 21-6 record while competing unattached in open tournaments. Hess won the 157-pound title at the UB Open in November 2011 and added three more runner-up finishes in his deferred year.
This season, Hess posted a 3-3 mark as Lehigh's starter at 165, with falls in each of his first two appearances in front of the home fans at Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall.
"I will continue to meet with specialists to explore any and all options that could lead to a safe return to the sport," Hess said. "It has been an honor to be a member of the Mountain Hawk family and it is my intention to continue to surround myself with the wonderful people who are involved with our program. Furthermore, I am confident that our team will continue down the path of success, on and off of the wrestling mat. Thank you for the support you have shown my family and myself, both in times of happiness and in times of distress. We are and always will be proud to be Mountain Hawks."
"The Lehigh wrestling program is deeply saddened by Eric's news," said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. "Ultimately Eric's health is the number one priority and although he may not be actively wrestling, he will remain a member of our wrestling family and integral part of our team. I have found Eric to be an amazing individual and a strong leader. His faith and commitment are an inspiration to all who know him and I feel very blessed to have him in our lives.
Santoro continued, "Eric has become an extension of our family; our kids love him and we look forward to spending more time with him. We will always support him and keep his best interests in mind as we move forward. We are fortunate to have him be a part of the Lehigh tradition.
True freshman Brian Brill is expected to take over at 165 for the Mountain Hawks, when they return to action at the 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships, December 29-30 in Evanston, Illinois.