Lehigh kicks off season with wrestle-offs

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Fans enjoyed their first look at the 2013-14 Lehigh wrestling team as the Mountain Hawks hosted the Brown and White Wrestle-offs Thursday night inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. After last year's public wrestle-offs were cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, a crowd of nearly 1,200 fans were treated to ten bouts on the evening.

"It was good to see a lot of competitive bouts out there," said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. "It was good to see guys looking to score points in the third period. That was important. We saw a lot of things we have to work on tonight. We know we have a long way to go."

The evening began with a battle of true freshmen at 125 as Artem Timchenko met Darian Cruz. Cruz opened the scoring with a first period takedown, but Timchenko pulled even with a pair of escapes. A 1:33 riding time advantage for Timchenko sent the match to sudden victory, but Cruz secured the winning takedown 43 seconds in to win 5-3.

Sophomore Mason Beckman delivered the only pin of the evening as he built a 13-2 lead early in the second period before pancaking freshman 125-pounder Dean Somers to his back and securing the fall in 3:44.

In the first of two bouts at 141, freshman Will Switzer scored takedowns in the first and third period to defeat junior Jim Carucci 5-3. Sophomores Randy Cruz and Laike Gardner followed with an interesting bout at 141. Cruz led 2-1 behind a first period takedown and built up significant riding time before Gardner escaped in the second. Gardner answered with a quick takedown in the third period to go in front briefly but Cruz scored a reversal to regain the lead at 5-4. Gardner escaped late, but a healthy 2:49 riding time advantage gave Cruz the 6-5 victory.

At 149, freshman Mitch Minotti posted a major decision 11-2 over junior Michael Stepien. Minotti broke open a 4-0 match with three third period takedowns and over four minutes of riding time to secure the major.

Junior Will Sullivan (165) and freshman Billy Ramsey (157) met in an exhibition bout with Ramsey posting an impressive 10-3 win. Ramsey netted takedowns in each of the first two periods plus two more in the third, while allowing just three Sullivan escapes.

A highly anticipated matchup between sophomore Ben Haas and freshman Brian Brill at 165 ended abruptly as Haas defaulted with an injury less than a minute into the bout.

Freshman Elliot Riddick impressed in his first match in front of the Grace Hall crowd, downing classmate Zach Diekel 10-4 in an exhibition match. Riddick, who weighed in at 174, registered two takedowns in the first and two more in the third to defeat Diekel, who weighed in at 184.

Another exhibition pitted junior Nathaniel Brown (184) against sophomore John Bolich. Brown made a first period takedown stand in a 3-1 victory as both wrestlers traded escapes in the second and third periods.

The final bout of the evening matched sophomore Max Wessell and freshman Doug Vollaro at heavyweight. Neither wrestler was able to muster much offense as the score was knotted at one through regulation and 2-2 after the first set of sudden victory and tiebreaker periods. Two seconds of riding time proved to be the difference as Wessell escaped in the second 30 second period in the second round of tiebreakers to win by the slightest of margins.

"No one seemed overwhelmed (by the atmosphere) so that was a good sign," Santoro said. "We've got to continue to score points the whole match. We'll do that as the year goes on."

Lehigh will send a contingent to the Knight Point Clarion Open on Sunday November 3, while Beckman will face A.J. Schopp of Edinboro at the NWCA All-Star Classic, November 2 in Fairfax, Va.

The Mountain Hawks will open the dual meet season at home against Bucknell on Saturday November 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME or by visiting

2013-14 Lehigh Wrestle-offs
125 -- Darian Cruz (White) dec. Artem Timchenko (Brown) 5-3, s.v.
EX -- Mason Beckman (Brown) Fall Dean Somers (White) 3:44
141 -- Will Switzer (Brown) dec. Jim Carucci (White) 5-3
141 -- Randy Cruz (White) dec. Laike Gardner (Brown) 6-5
149 -- Mitch Minotti (Brown) major dec. Michael Stepien (White) 11-2
EX -- Billy Ramsey (White) dec. Will Sullivan (Brown) 10-3
165 -- Brian Brill (White) injury default Ben Haas (Brown) 0:57
EX -- Elliot Riddick (Brown) dec. Zach Diekel (White) 10-4
EX -- Nathaniel Brown (Brown) dec. John Bolich (White) 3-1
285 -- Max Wessell (White) dec. Doug Vollaro (Brown) 3-3, r.t., t.b. 2
Attendance -- 1,193
Referee -- Scott Bricker


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