BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The 15th-ranked Virginia Tech wrestling team jumped out to a big lead, but it was No. 8 Lehigh who came roaring back by winning the final five matches for a 24-12 win in a bout between two top-15 teams Friday night at Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. The Mountain Hawks improved to 12-3-1 with the win while Tech fell to 14-5 with its second-straight loss.
In the opening match, 14th-ranked Jarrod Garnett of Tech had his way with John McDonald, picking up a 7-1 win. After a scoreless first period, he got an escape, takedown and two near fall points in the second period to open things up. He added a late takedown at the end of the third stanza to seal the win. At 133 pounds, No. 13 Matt Fisk of Lehigh tied things up with a 6-1 decision over Brock LiVorio. A takedown in first period was all he needed, but he picked up an escape and a takedown in the third period.
At 141 pounds, 10th-ranked Chris Diaz picked up a takedown with one second left in the match to capture a wild 4-3 win over 17th-ranked Seth Ciasulli. Ciasulli got a first-period takedown and a stall warning point against Diaz to take a 3-2 lead. But Diaz kept fighting and was awarded the two points at the buzzer much to dismay of the Lehigh faithful to give the Hokies a huge momentum swing.
At 149 pounds, Tech’s Brian Stephens and Lehigh’s Joey Napoli were scoreless through two periods before Napoli started the third period with an escape. Stephens got a takedown and put Napoli right to his back with a little less than a minute left to take a 4-1 lead. Napoli got an escape, but couldn’t get anything in the last 30 seconds, and in fact Stephens picked up a last-second takedown to pick up a 6-2 win.
Fifth-ranked Jesse Dong got a takedown in the first period at 157 pounds, but Sean Bilodeau was given a point when Dong was whistled for locked hands. Dong rode him for the rest of the period to build up over two minutes of riding time heading into the second period. Dong picked up an escape midway through the second period to make it 3-1. A takedown by Dong and an escape by Bilodeau made it 5-2 heading into the third stanza. Dong got his third takedown of the match early in the third period to make it 7-2. He let him up to make it 7-3 and used a single-leg for a takedown but Bilodeu got an escape and quick takedown to make it 9-6. Dong got the riding time for the 10-6 win to give Tech a 12-3 lead heading to the break.
While Tech dominated the first five bouts, it was the Mountain Hawks who used bonus points and five victories in the second half to rally for the win. At 165 pounds, Brandon Hatchett took an early lead on Tech’s Matt Epperly with a first-period takedown. In the second period Hatchett turned Epperly for two near fall points and then Epperly eventually escaped to make it 4-2 in favor of the Lehigh sophomore. Hatchett countered an Epperly shot with a takedown late in the period and then both wrestlers scored two points in the final stanza as Hatchett took the 8-4 win.
Alex Caruso was all over Tech’s Taylor Knapp at 174 pounds, picking up a 21-6 technical fall to give bonus points to his team and cut the Tech lead to one. Fifteenth-ranked David Craig gave Lehigh its first lead with a sudden victory win over No. 19 Tommy Spellman of Tech at 184 pounds. Early on, Craig got a takedown, but Spellman reversed him to end the first period. Trailing 4-3 in the third period but giving up a point for riding time, Spellman got a takedown late to force overtime. After being pushed around for the beginning of the period, Craig got a takedown with about 10 seconds left in sudden victory for the 7-5 win.
Lehigh got a 10-2 major decision from No. 19 Joe Kennedy over Chris Penny at 197 pounds and then Tech once again forfeited at heavyweight to finish the match, giving Lehigh the 24-12 win.
Tech's match against Maryland has been postponed and no makeup date has been determined. The Hokies will now wrestle at Duke on Friday night in Durham before taking on NC State Saturday in Raleigh.
#8 Lehigh (12-3-1) 24, #15 Virginia Tech (14-5) 12
125: #14 Jarrod Garnett (VT) dec. John McDonald, 7-1
133: #13 Matt Fisk (LU) dec. Brock LiVorio, 6-1
141: #10 Chris Diaz (VT) dec. #17 Seth Ciasulli, 4-3
149: Brian Stephens (VT) dec. Joey Napoli, 6-2
157: #5 Jesse Dong (VT) dec. Sean Bilodeau, 10-6
165: Brandon Hatchett (LU) dec. #20 Matt Epperly, 8-4
174: Alex Caruso (LU) tech fall Taylor Knapp, 21-6 (7:00)
184: #15 David Craig (LU) dec. #19 Tommy Spellman, 7-5 (SV)
197: #19 Joe Kennedy (LU) maj. dec. Chris Penny, 10-2
285: #5 Zach Rey (LU) wins by forfeit
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