Lehigh freshman Joe Lobeck wrestles Virginia Tech junior Dennis Gustafson in the 133-pound class on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in Grace Hall. Gustafson beat Lobeck by decision, 4-0. (Roshan Giyanani/B&W Staff)

Lehigh wrestling drops two in a row against No. 5 Virginia Tech and No. 15 Michigan

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In a span of 48 hours, the Lehigh wrestling team squared off against two nationally-ranked opponents this weekend, losing both duals to No. 5 Virginia Tech University and No. 15 University of Michigan.

On Friday night, the Mountain Hawks fell just short of upsetting the Hokies at Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall, dropping the dual 21-15. Lehigh battled despite being undermanned with three wrestlers out because of injury. Coming into the match, the Mountain Hawks were already without sophomore Jordan Kutler and freshman Kyle Gentile, but a third Mountain Hawk joined them as senior Ben Haas suffered an arm injury during his match, forcing him to withdraw.

Junior Darian Cruz and sophomore Ryan Preisch shined in Lehigh’s defeat as both knocked off two wrestlers in Joey Dance and Zach Epperly, who came into the match undefeated on the year and ranked second in the country individually. Seniors Randy Cruz and Mitch Minotti picked up the rest of Lehigh wins.

The Hawks (8-4, 6-1 EIWA) hit the road on Saturday en route to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a Sunday matinee against the Wolverines. Darian Cruz got Lehigh off a great start with his victory of Connor Youtsey in the opening match. Michigan would then take full control of the dual, taking the next five bouts, including one over Randy Cruz in an upset just two days after picking up an upset of his own against Virginia Tech.

Preisch halted the Wolverines’ momentum temporarily with a win at 174 and sophomore Andrew Price followed with a win at 184, but the damage had been done and the lead was insurmountable. Senior Doug Vollaro closed out the meet with a win by major decision at 285, but the Mountain Hawks fell 24-13, finishing a tough weekend at 0-2.

The Mountain Hawks will have some time to regroup as they won’t return to action for another 12 days. On Feb. 10, Lehigh will host Army for its final dual meet of the year and a chance to close out the conference season with a 7-1 mark.

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