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Lehigh downs American for 10th straight dual win

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- No. 6 Lehigh extended its dual win streak to 10 and clinched its first unbeaten dual season against EIWA opponents in six years as the Mountain Hawks defeated American 32-8 Saturday inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. The Mountain Hawks won eight weight classes with three bonus wins plus a forfeit to improve to 12-1 overall on the dual season.

With a 7-0 dual mark against EIWA opponents, Lehigh will represent the EIWA NWCA National Championship Dual Series Sunday February 21 at a Big Ten Opponent that is still to be determined.

"We wrestled hard but I think we were a little flat," Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro said. "Sometimes that week layoff sometimes does that to you. We had two good weeks of training, but sometimes that zaps your legs a little bit. They pushed themselves through that when they needed to."

Sophomore Darian Cruz upended David Terao in a battle of top-15 grapplers in the featured bout of the dual, setting the tone for Lehigh as the Mountain Hawks raced to a 16-0 lead after four bouts. The eighth-ranked Terao raced to a 4-2 lead with takedowns in each of the first two periods. Cruz, ranked No. 14 at 125 was able to turn the tides in the second period with an escape in front of the American bench. He then slapped on a cradle for a go ahead takedown and was able to work Terao onto his back for four near fall points to lead 9-4 after two periods. Terao escaped to open the third but Cruz's second takedown of the match gave him an 11-5 lead before Terao scored in the final seconds to make the final tally 11-8.

"That was a big match, for both EIWA seeding and national seeding," Santoro said. "It was fun to watch. We knew big moves could be a part of this match between those two and it ended up being that way. I'm sure they'll see each other again, but it was a good way to start the match off."

For the second straight dual Mason Beckman was awarded a win by forfeit after American's Esteban Gomez-Rivera was injured in the Eagles' Friday night loss at Binghamton and was unable to compete. Beckman's 96th career victory gave Lehigh a 10-0 advantage.

At 141, junior Randy Cruz was challenged by Tyler Scotton but persevered to pull off a 7-3 win in sudden victory. Cruz rode out the second period and escaped early in the third to take a 1-0 lead but fell victim to a slick duck under by Scotton. An escape by Cruz tied the bout at two and while Cruz had riding time advantage, a second stall warning gave Scotton a third point and sent the match to overtime. In the sudden victory period Cruz converted an early shot into a takedown and added a pair of near fall points for the 7-3 margin.

Junior Laike Gardner capped the Lehigh run, using a big third period to pick up a 13-5 major decision over Mike Dahlstrom at 149. Gardner led 4-2 after two and picked up a penalty point for stalling plus four third period takedowns to establish the eight point cushion.

With junior Mitch Minotti still sidelined at 157, sophomore Drew Longo got the call against 13th-ranked John Boyle. The third Mountain Hawk to man 157 in a dual this season, Longo hung tough with Boyle, fighting off several Boyle attempts early while nearly converting a few of his own. Boyle rode tough in the second period before Longo was able to escape and broke a 1-1 tie with a third period takedown, plus riding time to win 4-2 and cut Lehigh's lead to 16-3 at intermission.

Junior Matt Bonshak made his varsity dual debut at 165 in place of injured freshman Ryan Preisch and scored an early takedown against American's Mitchell Weightman, but the Eagle senior took over from there with takedowns in each of the first two periods and a trio of four point near falls to earn a 20-2 technical fall that was clinched with five seconds remaining on the third period clock.

Lehigh capped the dual by taking the final four bouts with a pair of 9-3 decisions sandwiched around a pair of technical falls.

At 174 freshman Gordon Wolf earned a 9-3 decision over Michael Eckhart, while senior Nathaniel Brown clinched the dual with his eighth technical fall of the season, topping Jason Grimes 16-0 at the 4:07 mark. Brown scored a takedown and added three sets of four point near falls to lead 14-0 after one period. With choice for the second, Brown opted to go after the takedown instead of the easy escape to end the match and chose neutral. He finally secured the tech with a takedown with 53 second remaining in the second period. Brown ranks second in Division I with eight technical falls.

Senior John Bolich scored three first period takedowns before going to work on the mat for near fall points. A pair of four point near falls in the second period secured a 20-2 technical fall in 3:57.

In the final bout of the dual, senior Max Wessell downed Jake Scanlan 9-3 at 285. Wessell scored early and added two third period takedowns plus a pair of penalty points for stalling, but ran out of time in his bid for a major decision.

The Mountain Hawks will host two matches next weekend to close out their home schedule. Lehigh will host undefeated and No. 1-ranked Penn State Friday at Stabler Arena. That match is now sold out, but free streaming video will be available on the Patriot League Network. On Sunday, February 14, Lehigh will host Bloomsburg on Senior Day at Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Tickets for the match, including $2 upper level seats can be purchased at LehighTickets.com or by calling 610-7LU-GAME during normal business hours.

Results:
125: Darian Cruz (Lehigh) dec. David Terao (AU) 11-8
133: Mason Beckman (Lehigh) won by forfeit
141: Randy Cruz (Lehigh) dec. Tyler Scotton (AU) 7-3, sv
149: Laike Gardner (Lehigh) major dec. Mike Dahlstrom (AU) 13-5
157: John Boyle (AU) dec. Drew Longo (Lehigh) 4-2
165: Mitchell Wightman (AU) tech fall Matt Bonshak (Lehigh) 20-2, 6:55
174: Gordon Wolf (Lehigh) dec. Michael Eckhart (AU) 9-3
184: Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) tech fall Jason Grimes (AU) 16-0, 4:07
197: John Bolich (Lehigh) tech fall Joe Salvi (AU) 20-2, 3:57
285: Max Wessell (Lehigh) dec. Jake Scanlan (AU) 9-3
Attendance: 1,497
Official: John Hnath

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