ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- It was a two-horse race all year, and in the final stretch the Lehigh wrestling team proved it had a better kick than Penn. In the EIWA Championships this past weekend at Navy, the Engineers' team balance spurred them on to 157 team points and a first-place finish, bringing the Quakers' four-year run of EIWA titles to a screeching halt. Penn got individual titles from its three captains -- Brett Matter (157 pounds), Rick Springman (174) and heavyweight Bandele Adeniyi-Bada -- but in the end, four individual titles and a plethora of bonus points from its other wrestlers made the difference for Lehigh. Penn and Lehigh both placed five wrestlers in the finals, but the Engineers already had a solid hold on the team race by that point. Once Lehigh 125-pounder Bruce Kelly took the first championship bout, the decision was almost automatic. "I think up through the quarterfinals, we were wrestling well. It looked to me like we tightened up in the semifinals," Penn coach Roger Reina said. "Even some of the matches we won, we didn't win in the style and the manner that we trained for." At 133, Penn's Jason Nagle faced Brown's Livio DiRubbo in a rematch of last year's final, which Nagle won in a 10-6 upset. Top-seeded DiRubbo -- who had a 7-1 victory earlier in the year against the No. 2 seed Nagle --jumped out to a commanding 7-1 lead early in the first period with a takedown and three back points. Nagle fought back hard in the remaining periods, bringing the score back to 8-5 at the end of two. In the final period, Nagle managed two takedowns, but DiRubbo sealed the 13-9 victory with a late takedown of his own. At 141 pounds, freshman Jody Giuricich earned a trip to the NCAAs as a wildcard with a third-place finish. In the third-place bout, third-seeded Giuricich bested No. 4 seed Mark Conley of Navy. After a scoreless first period, Conley used a takedown to go up 2-0 in the second period. Giuricich escaped and got in a takedown right at the end of the period to go up 3-2. Giuricich rode out the entire third period to hold onto the victory. The final at 149 featured the tournament's only Penn-Lehigh final, with Lehigh's national No. 6 Dave Esposito facing Penn's Jon Gough. Esposito notched his second major decision victory over Gough this year with a 16-6 win. Matter was the shining star for Penn. With his title at 157 pounds, Matter became the EIWA's first four-time champion in 17 years. Matter also picked up the Fletcher Award, which is awarded to the wrestler with the most career points at the EIWA tournament. Penn's all-time winning wrestler picked up the Outstanding Wrestler award to boot. Matter cruised to a 6-1 victory in the finals over Cornell's Leo Urbanelli to etch his name into the EIWA history books. Of course, EIWA success is nothing new for the Matter family. Brett's title is the ninth for the Matters -- father Andy won three as a wrestler for Penn State, and brother Clint picked up two for the Quakers. "It's kind of a good monkey off my back," said Matter, who is ranked No. 2 in the nation. "The more I warmed up for each match, the more I started thinking about it. Every match I wrestled today they were mentioning, the first [four-time champion] since blah blah blah. I didn't think it was that big a deal." Penn's other national No. 2, Springman, tore through a very deep 174-pound weight class en route to his first EIWA title. He recorded a pin in his finals match against national No. 6 Ed Mosley of Harvard -- the second time Springman pinned Mosley this year. For his efforts, Springman picked up the Sheridan Award for the most falls in the least amount of time. Mike Fickell earned a trip to St. Louis with a third-place finish. Seeded No. 2 at the EIWAs and ranked No. 14 in the country, Fickell held off a scare from fourth seed Matt Greenberg of Columbia to win the third-place bout. In the strong heavyweight class, Adeniyi-Bada closed out the tournament with a 3-2 win over Harvard's Dawid Rechul. Adeniyi-Bada hit a double-leg takedown in the second period to go up 3-0 on a very passive Rechul. After taking an injury timeout in the third period, though, Rechul came out with a sudden burst of energy and initiated more contact. He was unable to manage a takedown, however, and Adeniyi-Bada emerged the champion.Comments powered by Disqus
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