WASHINGTON -- Senior Robert Hamlin and freshman John Bolich posted pins as the Lehigh wrestling team completed a 2-0 weekend versus EIWA foes with a 30-12 triumph over American Sunday at Bender Arena. The Mountain Hawks won seven of ten bouts, scoring bonus points in four of those wins to improve to 5-4 in duals, and 2-2 against EIWA opponents.
The dual began at 165 where freshman Ben Haas scored the first takedown in his match against Phillip Barreiro before the Eagle senior rallied for a 5-3 win. From there Lehigh posted three consecutive bonus wins to build a 16-3 advantage after four bouts.
At 174, sophomore Nathaniel Brown secured five takedowns en route to a 12-2 major decision over Keithen Cast. Hamlin then followed with a first period pin over Thomas Barreiro, the 93rd win of Hamlin's career to extend Lehigh's lead. Bolich then followed with his first career win by fall, taking down Devon Bradley early before using an arm bar to secure the pin in 1:11.
"Any time you wrestle a conference rival, bonus points are huge," said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. "We needed those today. Both teams had some (bonus wins) today, but to get those two falls right off the bat was nice."
American (3-3, 1-1 EIWA), which knocked off Stanford 24-14 earlier in the day, made things close with consecutive wins at 285 and 125 to cut Lehigh's lead to 16-12.
The Mountain Hawks took over from there, winning the final four bouts of the dual. At 133, a first period takedown proved to be the difference as freshman Randy Cruz held off Esteban Gomez-Rivera 3-2.
Freshman Laike Gardner fell behind early in his match against John Boyle at 141 before battling back. Down 2-1 after one period, Gardner rode out the second period then scored an escape and a takedown in the third to win 5-3, giving Lehigh a ten point advantage.
"The freshmen have stepped up and done a really nice job," Santoro explained. "They're getting better each week and gaining more confidence now. I'm excited about where they're going. They've got a lot of work to do before March but they're going in the right direction."
At 149, senior Shane Welsh met Kevin Tao in a rematch of last year's EIWA finals at 149. Tao scored the first takedown, but Welsh methodically battled back, using a throw for a takedown to take a 3-2 lead after one period. After a scoreless second period in neutral, Welsh reversed Tao in the third and added a second takedown en route to a 7-4 decision.
The final bout of the dual saw junior Joey Napoli dominate Mark Cirello in a 21-4 technical fall. Napoli scored a late takedown to go up by 14, and then turned Cirello for two near fall points in the final seconds to complete the technical fall in 7:00.
"These were two big wins this weekend," Santoro said. "Conference meets are doubly important, but at the end of the day you're not wrestling just for seeds. It's hard to assess everything right now because there's still a lot of work to do. We had two good wins this weekend but our eyes are always on March."
The Mountain Hawks will conclude their three dual road swing on Friday when they travel to Piscataway, N.J. to face EIWA rival Rutgers. The match is set for a 7 p.m. start from the Louis Brown Athletic Center. The match will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehighsports.com, with pre-match coverage beginning at 6:45.
165: Phillip Barreiro (AU) dec. Ben Haas (Lehigh) 5-3
174: Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) major dec. Keithen Cast (AU) 12-2
184: Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) Fall Thomas Barreiro (AU) 1:36
197: John Bolich (Lehigh) Fall Devon Bradley (AU) 1:11
285: Blake Herrin (AU) dec. Jack Delia (Lehigh) 4-2
125: David Terao (AU) Fall Alex Abreu (Lehigh) 0:54
133: Randy Cruz (Lehigh) dec. Esteban Gomez-Rivera (AU) 3-2
141: Laike Gardner (Lehigh) dec. John Boyle (AU) 5-3
149: Shane Welsh (Lehigh) dec. Kevin Tao (AU) 7-4
157: Joey Napoli (Lehigh) tech fall Mark Cirello (AU) 21-4, 7:00