LEWISBURG, Pa. -- The 10th-ranked Lehigh wrestling team opened its 2017-18 season by winning nine bouts in a dominant 36-2 victory over Bucknell Friday night at Sojka Pavilion. Six of Lehigh's nine match wins produced bonus points with sophomore Jordan Kutler producing his first career pin and junior Gordon Wolf delivering a high-scoring technical fall.
Lehigh has now won its last four dual openers and improved to 12-1 all-time versus Bucknell.
"The effort was really good," said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro, who improved to 10-2 in dual openers at Lehigh. "I don't think we were very crisp but we moved forward the whole time. We needed to create more angles and more opportunities early on. The upperweights did a really nice job of understanding the way the match flow was going and made the adjustments."
The Mountain Hawks' two returning All-Americans staked Lehigh to an early 7-0 lead. NCAA Champion Darian Cruz was only able to muster one takedown against Jakob Campbell at 125 but still extended his winning streak to 22 straight bouts with a 6-1 decision. Junior Scott Parker then followed with a commanding 13-4 major decision over David Campbell.
Bucknell's lone win came at 141 where 10th-ranked Tyler Smith won a tough battle against freshman Luke Karam. Smith scored takedowns in the second and third periods to counter three Karam escapes.
From there the dual belonged to Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks won the final seven bouts, scoring bonus points in the first four of those wins. Senior Jonathan Mele rode a solid start with three first period takedowns to a 15-6 major decision over Seth Hogue at 149. Junior Ian Brown followed with a five-takedown performance in a 13-5 major decision over Christian Bassolino at 157. Bucknell (0-3) was docked a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct by the coaches following the bout.
Wolf had another of his wild, high-scoring matches against D.J. Hollingshead at 165. Hollingshead scored the first takedown but Wolf reversed for two and two near fall, then added six more near fall points, while yielding a penalty point for an illegal hold to lead 12-3 after one. In the second, Wolf took Hollingshead down to his back and actually thought he had a fall, before settling for a six point move. One more takedown closed out a 19-4 technical fall in 3:44.
Kutler then followed with his first career win by fall in his first official bout up at 174. He scored an early takedown and then pinned Nick Stephani at 2:36.
Junior Ryan Preisch was strong in his first match up at 184, posting a convincing 10-0 major over Chad Reese. Wrestling near his hometown of New Columbia, Pa., Preisch scored a first period takedown and four point near fall, then added an escape and takedown in the second before riding out the third period to finish with 4:14 of advantage time.
Two Lehigh freshmen enjoyed winning debuts in the final bouts of the evening. At 197 Jake Jakobsen countered a Garrett Hoffman shot by locking up a cradle for a takedown and four point near fall, which proved to be the difference in a 9-5 victory. Heavyweight Jordan Wood closed the dual with a 4-0 win over Eric Chakonis behind two penalty points for stalling, an escape, and riding time advantage.
"Bucknell's always going to come out and fight us and they did tonight," Santoro said. "We always talk about scoring points and having a lot of fun but we have to create more opportunities. You can't just be moving forward. You can't just be hand fighting, you have to be hand fighting with a purpose."
Lehigh finished with a 22-6 advantage in takedowns.
The Mountain Hawks will close out their opening weekend when they send 18 wrestlers to the Journeymen Collegiate Classic, Sunday at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y. Action begins at 9 a.m. with coverage on FloWrestling.org via their subscription-based FloPro service.
No. 10 Lehigh 36, Bucknell 2
125 - Darian Cruz (Lehigh) dec. Jakob Campbell (Bucknell) 6-1
133 - Scott Parker (Lehigh) major dec. David Campbell (Bucknell) 13-4
141 - Tyler Smith (Bucknell) dec. Luke Karam (Lehigh) 5-3
149 - Jonathan Mele (Lehigh) major dec. Seth Hogue (Bucknell) 15-6
157 - Ian Brown (Lehigh) major dec. Christian Bassolino (Bucknell) 13-5*
165 - Gordon Wolf (Lehigh) tech. fall D.J. Hollingshead (Bucknell) 19-4, 3:44
174 - Jordan Kutler (Lehigh) Fall Nick Stephani (Bucknell) 2:36
184 - Ryan Preisch (Lehigh) major dec. Chad Reese (Bucknell) 10-0
197 - Jake Jakobsen (Lehigh) dec. Garrett Hoffman (Bucknell) 9-5
285 - Jordan Wood (Lehigh) dec. Eric Chakonis (Bucknell) 4-0
Referee - Nathan Chatman
*Bucknell docked a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct at 157