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Lehigh claims fourth consecutive EIWA title

Lehigh claimed the EIWA championship (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)

MANHEIM, Pa. -- Lehigh crowned four individual champions, but it was a total team effort that carried the Mountain Hawks to their fourth consecutive EIWA team title Friday at Spooky Nook Sports Complex. All 10 Lehigh entrants placed in the top five of their respective weight classes and all 10 qualified for the NCAA Championships as the Mountain Hawks scored 158.5 points to pull away from Navy and Army West Point.

The four individual champions for Lehigh were junior Jaret Lane (125), freshman Malyke Hines (133), senior Jake Jakobsen (197) and senior Jordan Wood (285). Wood becomes just the fifth four-time EIWA Champion in Lehigh history and the first EIWA heavyweight to win four titles.

Lehigh's four champs outscored their opponents 18-2 in those four finals bouts. The Mountain Hawks had five total finalists with nine of their 10 entrants placing in the top four. As a team, Lehigh went 27-8 on the day with 13 bonus point wins. Nine of Lehigh's 10 entrants had at least one bonus win.

"We had a really good training cycle, we just didn't know if it was going to pay off," said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro, who was named EIWA Coach of the Year for the second straight year and sixth time overall. "There's that mental part. We knew they were ready but they hadn't shown it.

"Having 10 guys place is a great thing," Santoro continued. "Having nine in the top four is a great thing. Having four champions is great. It was the whole team and it was consistent. Having 10 guys wrestle at the same level is really hard to do in a tournament. Everybody's happy with the way they wrestled."

Navy finished second with 129 points, while Army West Point was third with 119.5.

Lane won his first career title and punched his first ticket to NCAAs by outscoring his three opponents 24-1 to improve to 8-0 on the season. After opening with a 13-1 major decision over Army's Ryan Chauvin, Lane blanked Binghamton's Micah Roes 6-0. In the finals, he beat Navy's Logan Treaster 5-0 behind a second period reversal, third period takedown and 2:17 of riding time.

Hines followed suit with a 4-2 decision over Navy's Jacob Allen in the finals, giving Lehigh head-to-head wins over the Mids in the first two weights. Hines scored a first period takedown off a double leg shot and added a pair of third period escapes. Earlier Friday he cradled Sacred Heart's Kyle Randall for a fall in a mere 31 seconds then posted an 8-0 major decision over Navy's Jacob Allen.

In addition to his first title, Jakobsen won the Sheridan Award for most falls in the championship bracket, pinning his first two opponents in 9:34. In the finals, he defeated Army's JT Brown for the second time this season, this season by a 3-0 final. After a scoreless first period Jakobsen scored a takedown in the second and added a third period escape.

Wood's fourth title began with a second period pin of Sacred Heart's Dante DelBonis before blanking Zachary Knighton-Ward of Hofstra 2-0 in the semifinals. Wood met Bobby Heald of Army in the finals and posted a 6-0 decision, scoring takedowns in the second and third periods plus a second period escape and riding time. He is the first four-time EIWA Champion for Lehigh since Darryl Burley accomplished the feat in 1983. Wood captured the Fletcher Trophy for most career team points scored at the EIWA Tournament.

"Jordan was wrestling freestyle all summer but you could see him getting more comfortable each week," Santoro said. "He was grinding. Working hard on top. That's where he has always been strong but you could see it coming back. The last two weeks he was getting better and better. He's a smart wrestler and wrestles with intensity. Now he just has to tighten some things up for the NCAA Tournament."

Junior Jimmy Hoffman was Lehigh's fifth finalist. He won each of his first two bouts by 16-0 technical fall but came up on the short end of an 8-3 decision against Army's PJ Ogunsanya. Hoffman qualified for NCAAs for the second straight year.

The Mountain Hawks had two third-place finishers in freshman Connor McGonagle (141) and sophomore Brian Meyer (165). McGonagle rebounded from a 2-1 semifinal loss to eventual champion Cody Trybus of Navy, beating LIU's Drew Witham 11-2 to qualify for NCAAs and then beating Julian Flores of Drexel for the second time Friday in the third place match. Meyer scored a late takedown and two point near fall to knock off third-seeded Ricky Stamm of Hofstra 5-1 in the quarterfinals. After a semifinal loss to Tanner Skidgel of Navy, Meyer came back to win his next two bouts, including a major decision in the consolation semifinals to clinch the NCAA tournament berth.

Freshmen Luca Frinzi (157) and Jake Logan (174) both qualified with fourth place finishes. Frinzi's top moment came in the consolation semifinals against Bucknell's Jaden Fisher. Trailing 3-2 with under 10 seconds remaining, Frinzi cradled Fisher and took him to his back for the fall at 6:58, securing a NCAA berth in the process. Logan rebounded from a heartbreaking tiebreaker loss in the semifinals to punch his ticket with a 4-0 decision over Vincent Andreano of Bucknell. He medically forfeited to fourth place.

Wrestling his first bouts of the season, senior Dylan Ammerman secured qualification with a fifth place finish at 184. He went 3-2 on the day, staying alive with a fall in the pigtail consolations and then securing his place at NCAAs with a 9-7 win over Drexel's Josh Stillings.

"The three weeks of training leading up to this tournament made a huge difference," Santoro said. "Before this we hadn't had more than two weeks. The guys won all the tight matches today. They were winning third periods. That's typically what we've done but we hadn't done it all year. They really wrestled well. I'm really proud of them."

Lehigh's NCAA tournament qualifiers will move on to the NCAA Championships, March 18-20 at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. The NCAA will announce the at-large qualifiers and complete field of 330 on Tuesday, March 9 and will then unveil the seeds and brackets the following day at 6 p.m. The Mountain Hawks will be sending a full team to NCAAs for the first time since 2018.

Team Scores
1. Lehigh 158.5
2. Navy 129
3. Army West Point 119.5
4. Hofstra 106.5
5. Drexel 89.5
6. Bucknell 84.5
7. Binghamton 75.5
8. Sacred Heart 39
9. American 30.5
10. LIU 24.5

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