Lehigh junior Darian Cruz battles Army West Points freshman Trey Chalifoux during Lehigh's senior night match on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, at Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Cruz won the national championship on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at the 125-pound weight class. (Allison LaBeau/B&W Staff)

Lehigh wrestling’s Darian Cruz wins national championship at 125-pound weight class

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Lehigh wrestling junior Darian Cruz won the national championship at the 125-pound weight class Saturday night, becoming Lehigh’s first individual national champion since 2011.

Cruz defeated Ethan Lizak of University of Minnesota, who he had lost to earlier in the season. Cruz won the match 6-3 in Session 6 of the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.

Cruz opened the scoring midway through the first round with a takedown on Lizak, taking a 2-0 lead. Lizak quickly escaped, though, to cut the lead to 2-1.

In the middle of the second round, Lizak tied it back up with another escape as Cruz was trying to accumulate riding time. One point is awarded to a wrestler for every one minute of riding time.

With the score still tied at two late in the third and final round, Cruz took control and got a takedown to grab a 4-2 lead. Lizak attempted to come back, scoring another quick escape to make it 4-3, but Cruz got one last takedown to eventually win 6-3.

Cruz is the 22nd Lehigh wrestler of all time to win a national championship. The last was Zach Rey, who won the championship at heavyweight in 2011.

Cruz upset No. 1 seed Thomas Gilman of Iowa on Friday to qualify for the championship bout. He was the fourth seed in the tournament and Lizak was the sixth seed. Cruz is now a two-time All-American and will have one more year of eligibility next year.

Lehigh finished the NCAA Championships with two All-Americans — sophomore Scott Parker finished eighth place in the 133-pound weight class Saturday.

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3 Comments

  1. Lehigh is 6th all time in number of NCAA champions & Darian gets us back into our rightful place at the top of this sport after a 6 year lull. Next year we need to get back into the team race.

    • No chance I think to catch PSU anytime soon with their loaded program but maybe more AA’s next year.. almost had 5 but 3 fell just short…

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