A controversial call and a forfeit at 125 did not help the Quakers in their meet with the Engineers. In a battle of the top two teams in the EIWA, No. 12 Lehigh used an unlikely hero and an uncontested bout to snatch eastern bragging rights away from No. 15 Penn yesterday at the Palestra. After a stunning upset of Penn star heavyweight Bandele Adeniyi-Bada by Lehigh sophomore Shawn Laughlin and a Penn forfeit at 125 pounds, the Engineers (19-2, 8-0 EIWA) held on to defeat the Quakers, 19-15. The Quakers (9-5, 5-1) clinched their fifth straight Ivy League title the night before with a 30-15 win over Princeton. Penn, also looking for its fifth straight EIWA championship, now has to defend its title in the tournament next month as a No. 2 seed after yesterday's loss. Lehigh's Rob Rohn, ranked No. 11, started off the day with a 9-3 decision over Penn's Mike Gadsby in the 184-pound bout, but Mike Fickell evened the match score with his close 5-4 victory over Glauco Lolli-Ghetti. National No. 16 Fickell and Lolli-Ghetti both started the match furiously, with a Fickell takedown, a Lolli-Ghetti reversal and a Fickell escape making the score 3-2 in the first 30 seconds of the contest. After Fickell held on to win and tied the meet score 3-3, Penn seemed assured the driver's seat with No. 5 Adeniyi-Bada heading up against the sophomore Laughlin in the heavyweight bout. But Laughlin had other plans. With four seconds left in the first period, Laughlin turned Adeniyi-Bada for a crucial takedown and a 2-0 lead. After riding Adeniyi-Bada out for a large part of the second period and getting an escape point to start the third, Laughlin had a 3-1 lead plus a point for riding time. But Laughlin was hit for a stalling penalty with 29 seconds left, opening the door for Adeniyi-Bada to tie the bout with a takedown. At the end of the third period, Adeniyi-Bada had Laughlin's leg in his grasp, but could not pull the Lehigh wrestler in bounds to secure the takedown. Much to the dismay of Penn coach Roger Reina and the Penn fans in attendance, the referee did not award Adeniyi-Bada the two points, and Laughlin took the victory, 4-2. "[Laughlin's win] surprised me," a beaming Lehigh coach Greg Strobel said after the match. "I was hoping he'd keep it close, and he ended up winning the match. That was huge. Getting that first takedown made it all happen." To make matters worse, with Kevin Rucci still not fully recovered from an injured hand, the Quakers were forced to forfeit the 125-pound bout, giving up six big team points and handing the Engineers a 12-3 lead in the match. Things began to look bleak for the Quakers as Lehigh freshman Tristan Boyd came out blazing against senior Jason Nagle at 133 pounds. With 1:13 left in the first period, Boyd took Nagle down and turned him over for three additional back points, giving himself a 5-0 lead early in the match. But on Senior Day at the Palestra, Nagle was not to be outdone by the freshman. In the second period, Nagle worked his way back into the match, tying the score at six at the end of the period. Late in the third period, down 7-6, Nagle used a duck-under takedown with 10 seconds left to notch a victory for the Quakers before the intermission. Penn's 141-pounder, Jody Giuricich, brought the Quakers back into the match with an upset of his own. Managing to ride out the entire second period, the freshman used his riding time bonus to defeat No. 20 Matt Goldstein in a tight 3-2 win. The bout closed the Engineers lead to 12-9. Strobel decided to send out No. 5 Dave Esposito at 149 pounds, despite the ankle injury Esposito suffered at the NWCA All-Star Meet. "We vacillated on it," Strobel said. "When he warmed up on it today, he was moving real well. I talked to him and I said, 'Before you go to the Easterns, you really need another match.' And he thought, 'Yeah, I can do that,' and he went out and wrestled." And he wrestled well. The Lehigh standout overwhelmed Penn's Jon Gough en route to a 10-2 major decision victory. Down 16-9 but with a pair of No. 2 wrestlers left, Penn had a glint of hope remaining, provided captains Brett Matter (157 pounds) and Rick Springman (174) could get bonus-point victories. Matter controlled his match against Lehigh sophomore Chris Vitale, but Penn's all-time winningest wrestler could not get any bonus points, winning a 9-3 decision. At 165 pounds, Lehigh's Travis Doto, ranked sixth nationally, handled Tim Ortman, winning an 8-1 decision and putting the Engineers ahead 19-12, thus clinching the match. Springman added an 8-5 decision over No. 18 Mark Dufresne to make the final score 19-15. Penn had beaten Lehigh three out of the last five years and had not lost to the Engineers at the Palestra since 1957. But Reina thinks the loss will inspire, not deflate, his squad heading into the EIWA Championships. "To me, this is something that should really light a spark under our guys, to refocus and redouble their efforts," Reina said. "This group has the ability to respond in a very significant manner come the Eastern Championships."Comments powered by Disqus
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