VESTAL, N.Y. -- A tight four-team race has emerged at the 115th EIWA Championships, which kicked off Friday at Binghamton's Events Center. The Mountain Hawks rode a bonus-point filled first round to the early lead and placed six wrestlers into the semifinals to take a three-point lead into day two. Lehigh has 85 points with nine of its 10 entrants still alive, while Princeton and Cornell are tied for second with 82. Army West Point is not far behind with 78 points.
"This is exactly what we thought would happen," Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro said. "We knew it could be a three or four team race. The scores aren't going to matter until tomorrow night anyway, but we need to take care of business on our own tomorrow.
The falls were really important because we didn't get a lot of bonus points this year," Santoro continued. "Maybe it was a product of our schedule. It was good to get them today. We obviously needed them in this race. Tomorrow, we just need to find ways to win and push through and get as many guys to the NCAA Tournament as possible."
Two Mountain Hawks secured automatic qualification to the NCAA Championships, freshman Josh Humphreys (157) and senior Ryan Preisch (184).
Lehigh went 9-1 in Friday morning's championship round of 16 and racked up 15 bonus points behind six falls, one win by disqualification and one major decision.
Humphreys has come out strong in his first tournament with two pins in two matches. He needed just 59 seconds to pin Chris Mauriello of Hofstra with a half nelson in round one, and then decked Penn's Joe Oliva in 2:51 in the quarterfinals. Next up for Humphreys will be Princeton freshman Quincy Monday, who Humphreys edged 5-4 in the dual meet between Lehigh and Princeton in late November.
Preisch also posted a pair of bonus wins on day one to qualify for the semifinals and punch his fourth consecutive trip to NCAAs. He opened with a first period pin of Penn's Robert Ng and then took care of sixth-seeded Tanner Harvey of American in a 16-5 major decision. He will face No. 2 seed Lou DePrez of Binghamton in the semifinals.
At 133, sophomore Brandon Paetzell got things going for the Mountain Hawks in both sessions, picking up two wins by major decision, over Bucknell's Geo Barzona and Columbia's Matt Kazimir, to reach the semifinals in his first tournament. He will face No. 2 seed Josh Terao of American, looking to avenge a loss by decision to the Eagle in January.
Senior Cortlandt Schuyler started Lehigh's pin parade, using a headlock to earn a 54 second fall over Bucknell's Matthew Kolonia in round one. He broke open a tight, high-scoring match with Drexel's Parker Kropman with an early six-point move in the third period to win 16-10. He will face Penn's No. 2 seed Anthony Artalona in the semifinals, looking to avenge an overtime loss two weeks ago.
Both of Lehigh's top-seeded wrestlers, Jordan Kutler at 174, and Jordan Wood at 285, also made the semifinals at their respective weight classes. Kutler won his first match when Sacred Heart's Anthony Falbo was disqualified after five stalling calls. He then moved into the semifinals with a 9-4 decision over Hofstra's Ricky Stamm. He will next face Navy's Spencer Carey.
Wood began his day with a first period pin of Bucknell's Brandon Stokes and then won a 13-2 major decision over Binghamton's Joe Doyle. He will face Army's Ben Sullivan in the semifinals.
Three other Mountain Hawks rebounded from quarterfinal losses to stay alive heading into day two. All three wrestlers are guaranteed a top eight finish. Junior Ryan Pomrinca dropped an 11-minute heartbreaker against Army's Corey Shie in the quarters, with 25 seconds of riding time the difference in a 3-3, tb2, riding time victory for the Black Knight. Pomrinca came back to win a major decision over Bucknell's Noah Levett to advance to day two. He will face Princeton's Marshall Keller in the consolation quarterfinals.
Senior Gordon Wolf gave Lehigh a first period pin in his first match, but dropped a 16-13 final to Army's Cael McCormick in the quarterfinals. Wolf battled back to beat Penn's Evan DeLuise 7-3 to earn a date with Cornell's Andrew Berreyesa Saturday morning.
Sophomore Jake Jakobsen also began his day with a pin, then dropped a 5-1 final to Cornell's Ben Honis in the only bout matching a Mountain Hawk against a Big Red wrestler. Jakobsen earned a win by injury default in his second round consolation match and will now face Army's No. 3 seed Rocco Caywood Saturday with the winner earning automatic NCAA qualification.
The only Lehigh wrestler eliminated on day one was freshman Luke Resnick, who went 1-2 at 125. Resnick rode out the third period and scored four near fall points to rally past Harvard's Nolan Hellickson in the first round consolations, but dropped two matches on late third period takedowns. Resnick finishes his freshman campaign at 4-17.
"It's a typical tournament with a lot of good things, but some bad ones," Santoro said. "It's like a wedding and a funeral. One minute you're excited. One minute you're down. Tomorrow's a really big day. The team scores are really close. It's going to be a battle and we're going to have to wrestle really well tomorrow. We don't get these matches back so we have to make the most of them."
The 115th EIWA Championships conclude Saturday from Events Center. Session three, featuring the championship semifinals and two rounds of consolations, begins at 10 a.m. while the final session with bouts for first, third and fifth place will begin at 3 p.m. Video for the entire tournament is available on FloWrestling.org while Lehigh will offer audio of the finals session on Fox Sports Radio 1230 and 1320 and LVFoxSports.com.
The 2018-19 Lehigh wrestling season is presented by the Historic Hotel Bethlehem.
Top 6 teams:
1. Lehigh 85
2. Cornell 82
2. Princeton 82
4. Army 78
5. Navy 54
6. Binghamton 45.5