PHILADELPHIA – Four Mountain Hawks advanced to the semifinals while two others are alive in the consolations capping an up-and-down first day for Lehigh at the EIWA Championships Saturday at the Palestra. The Mountain Hawks combined to go 16-10 on the day, with wrestlers earning bonus points in ten of 16 weight classes.
Lehigh finished day one in second place with 62.5 points, half a point ahead of third place Rutgers and 29.5 behind front running Cornell.
The Mountain Hawks' four semifinalists are sophomore Mason Beckman, freshman Mitch Minotti, senior Joey Napoli and sophomore Max Wessell. That quartet went a combined 8-0 on the day with two falls and four major decisions.
Beckman, the top seed at 133, moved into the semifinals with a pair of major decisions beginning with an 11-2 win over Mike Sardo of Binghamton followed by a 9-0 major of Dane Harlowe of Boston University. Beckman got on the board with an early five-point move against Harlowe and cemented the major with a late takedown and two point near fall. He will face No. 4 seed Vinnie Dellefave of Rutgers in the semifinals.
Minotti advanced to the semifinals in his first EIWA tournament posting decisions over Ryan Ponte of Columbia and No. 7 seed Alex Johnson of Navy. The No. 2 seed at 149, Minotti will face No. 3 Cody Ruggirello of Hofstra in the semis.
Napoli looked sharp in his first action since suffering an injury against Rutgers on February 8. The No. 3 seed at 157, Napoli pinned Harvard's Tyler Grimaldi in his first match and then posted a 10-2 major decision over Princeton's Kevin Moylan in the quarterfinals. Napoli's semifinals opponent will be the No. 7 seed Markus Scheidel of Columbia, who upset second seeded Brian Realbuto of Cornell.
Wessell became Lehigh's fourth semifinalist with a pair of impressive wins at heavyweight. The No. 6 seed scored three takedowns in the first 90 seconds against Harvard's David Ng and then took the Crimson heavy down to his back for a fall in 1:42. Wessell then dominated No. 3 seed Tyler Deuel of Binghamton 14-5. He threw Deuel for five points in the opening seconds and never looked back. In the semifinals, Wessell will face the No. 2 seed Joe Stolfi of Bucknell.
Freshmen Darian Cruz and Elliot Riddick are guaranteed places in the top eight at 125 and 174 and will wrestle in the consolation bracket on Sunday.
Cruz won his first bout by technical fall but was done in by a first period takedown against Paul Petrov of Bucknell in the quarterfinals as Cruz fell 4-3. He rebounded for a 2-1 win over Penn Gottfried of Columbia and can punch a ticket to the NCAA Championships with a win over Drexel's Tanner Shoap on Sunday.
Riddick had a very strong day if you exclude the final ten seconds of his opening round match against Andrew Maksimovic of Boston University. The No. 1 seed at 174, Riddick scored six takedowns and built a 14-4 lead late. He had a cradle locked up and was getting three more near fall points when he pinned himself and Maksimovic was awarded the upset win at the 6:59 mark. Riddick bounced back with a pair of major decision victories and will face Brown's Ricky McDonald in the consolation quarterfinals on Sunday.
Three of the four Mountain Hawks eliminated on Saturday scored team points by winning at least one bout.
At 141, sophomore Laike Gardner won his first match 7-2 against Jordan Laster of Princeton, but dropped a pair of close decisions to No. 4 seed Todd Preston of Harvard and No. 7 Matt Bystol of Columbia. Gardner will have to wait until Wednesday to see if he earns an at-large bid to NCAAs.
Sophomore Ben Haas rebounded to win two matches at 165 after suffering a first round loss to No. 6 seed Chandler Smith of Army. Haas pinned Cristian Masaya of American in the second period and then avenged a loss two weeks ago to Brown's Phil Marano before being eliminated by Mitchell Wightman of Boston University.
Freshman Zach Diekel bounced back from an opening round loss to defeat Hofstra's Victor Pozsonyi 4-3 at 184 before being eliminated with a major decision loss to Princeton's Brett Harner.
The only Mountain Hawk not to win a match on Saturday was sophomore John Bolich, who went 0-2 at 197. The No. 8 seed, Bolich lost by major decision to No. 9 Bryce Barnes of Army before being eliminated with a sudden victory loss to Hayden Hrymack of Rutgers.
The 110th EIWA Championships conclude Sunday with two sessions at the Palestra. Sunday's first session, featuring championship semifinals and the remainder of the consolation bracket begins at 10 a.m., while the EIWA finals are set for 4 p.m.
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