With less than two months to go before the EIWA Tournament on the campus of Bucknell University, arguably the most heated rivalry in the conference took place as No. 1 Cornell traveled to No. 17 Lehigh.
The teams split the dual with five wins apiece, but bonus points proved to be the deciding factor as the Mountain Hawks used the home crowd to dethrone the Big Red, 17-15.
The match went back and forth with neither team winning more than two bouts in a row. An opening 9-3 decision at 125 pounds by Frank Perrelli was quickly countered with two-straight wins from Lehigh. Frank Cagnina earned a major decision over Joe Stanzione at 133 pounds followed by an 8-5 upset at 141 pounds with Stephen Dutton over Corey Manson.
The match continued to sway back and forth until Cornell clung to two-point advantage heading into the heavyweight bout and Lehigh’s No. 1 Zach Rey. Cornell’s Oney Snyder did all he could, but it was not enough against Rey, who earned the 8-0 major decision to cement the upset.
Rey is now 20-0 on the year. Lehigh moves to 10-5 in duals on the year as Cornell drops to 5-1.
Lehigh was not the only EIWA school taking down a top-5 program this week as No. 14 Rutgers welcomed No. 3 Virginia Tech to the friendly confines of the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
On paper, this was going to be a close bout with a slight edge to the Hokies, but in the end, the home team prevailed yet again with the Scarlet Knights racking up eight victories en route to the 24-7 victory.
Sophomore Joe Langel got the show started right off the bat with an 8-7 decision over No. 13 Jarrod Garnett at 125 before a major decision at 133 from Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter gave the Hokies a slim advantage.
But from there it was all Rutgers as the Scarlet Knight grapplers continued to make all the right moves and win all the little battles that yielded big results. A Scott Winston takedown in overtime against No. 15 Peter Yates brought the Scarlet supporters to their feet and upped the Rutgers’ lead to 12-7. Head coach Scott Goodale saw his squad take the last four bouts after that to close out the match and record the biggest win in school history.
Rutgers has now won 14-straight duals, having not lost since a dual against Penn State at the Sprawl and Brawl in Binghamton.
The stakes will never be high now when Lehigh travels to Piscataway to take on Rutgers on Feb. 17.
Around the EIWA
— American went 3-1 at the Lone Star Duals in Dallas, Texas. The Eagles shook off an early 22-14 loss to Oklahoma to defeat Ouachita Baptist, Arizona State, and Air Force by scores of 35-12, 27-18, and 23-17, respectively.
— Penn traveled to Virginia to take on the Cavaliers of the University of Virginia as well as VMI. The Quakers disposed of VMI by a 33-6 score and then took care of Virginia, winning 18-15 behind a win at heavyweight from Kyle Cowan.
— Bucknell rallied in its last two matches to defeat Old Dominion by a 20-16 score. Jay Hahn notched a 12-4 major decision at 197 pounds before Joe McMullan’s 11-7 decision at heavyweight sealed the deal for the Bison.
— One week after defeating Lehigh, Navy was unable to keep the momentum going against Maryland as the Terps won the in-state rivalry, 19-12. Bryce Saddoris kept the Midshipmen in the dual early with a 7-3 decision over Kyle John, but four straight losses after that doomed the squad.
Wrestler of the Week
It’s one thing to have the match riding on your shoulders, but it’s a completely different animal when that match is against the No. 1 team in the country. However Lehigh’s Zach Rey just went about his business as usual and in doing so, dropped No. 1 Cornell. Rey is still undefeated on the year appears to be destined for a national championship.