This is the second edition of the winter sports rankings from The Brown and White sports section. This list is the editors’ ranking of the five varsity Lehigh winter sports based on record, strength of schedule and recent results.
1. Wrestling (8-4, 6-1 EIWA)
Despite losing its last three dual meets, the Lehigh wrestling team remains atop our rankings. The Mountain Hawks have put together an impressive resume even with the difficulty of their schedule. For some perspective, the last three losses for Lehigh have come against teams ranked in the top 15 in Virginia Tech, Cornell University and University of Michigan. Lehigh’s other loss on the year came against No. 2 Penn State on the road. The Mountain Hawks are ranked No. 12 in the country and have dominated conference play with a 6-1 mark. They have high-quality wins against No. 21 Pittsburgh and No. 24 Drexel. Individually, Lehigh has four wrestlers ranked in the top 10 of their weight class in senior Darian Cruz, sophomore Jordan Kutler to go along with juniors Scott Parker and Ryan Preisch.
2. Women’s swimming (6-2, 3-2 Patriot)
After losing its opening meet to Boston University, the Lehigh women’s swim and dive team has won six of its last seven meets to close out the regular season at 6-2. The Hawks’ only blemish came at Army where they were defeated 170-128 in their first meet out of winter break. Lehigh completed its regular season with a win over Drexel. In her final meet at Jacobs Pool, Kaitlyn Ruffing broke her own pool record of 51.32 in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 50.99. Lehigh is currently prepping for the Patriot League Championship, which begins Feb. 15.
3. Men’s basketball (12-10, 6-5 Patriot)
Most teams in the Patriot League would be satisfied to have a 12-10 overall record to go along with a 6-5 mark in conference play at this point in the season. For the Lehigh men’s basketball team, it’s a major disappointment. The Hawks were previously tabbed as the clear preseason favorite to win the Patriot League but haven’t lived up to the hype due to inconsistency. A recent 17-point home loss to Boston University has made the task of winning the Patriot League regular season title a long shot. The team’s goal of winning the Patriot League Championship is still very possible. This is still a team that defeated an SEC opponent in Mississippi State by double digits and this is still a team led by two-time Patriot League Player of the Year Tim Kempton.
4. Women’s track and field
The women’s track and field team is ranked No. 14 in the Mid-Atlantic region by USTFCCCA. The Hawks are one of the highest rated teams in comparison to other Patriot League schools. The team is fresh off a fourth place finish at the Thundering Herd Invitational out of 11 teams. The Hawks also had three individual winners at the 25th Annual John Covert Classic at Rauch Fieldhouse last week. Lehigh’s season is highlighted by a dominating 114-66 win over rival Lafayette College on Jan 21. Sophomore Maura Henderson, who recently broke the school record in the mile run, and senior Courtney Avery have anchored the team’s success this season. It was a tight race between the men’s and women’s track and field teams for the fourth spot but the deciding factor was each team’s national rank. The women’s team is ranked No. 112 in the country by USTFCCCA.
5. Men’s track and field
With the season just getting underway, the men’s track and field team has had an uneventful season. Like the women’s team, the men handled Lafayette with ease as the Hawks cruised to a 107-74 victory. They also finished 13th out of 22 teams at the Villanova Open last weekend. With so many events left to complete, it’s hard to gauge the type of season the Hawks will have as a unit, but there have been some solid individual performances. Freshman Matt Kravitz has been a bright spot for the team as he took home first place in the mile run in the dual meet victory of over Lafayette. Senior Lucas Warning has continued his illustrious career in shot put as he set a new school record by throwing 18.09 meters at the Angry Birds Challenge.
6. Men’s swimming (4-5, 2-3 Patriot)
For the first time since the 2012-13 season, the Lehigh men’s swimming did not finish conference play with a winning record. The team will stumble into the Patriot League Championships losing three out of its last four meets. The Hawks easily defeated weaker competition like Lafayette and NJIT but struggled against some of the better teams in the Patriot League like Bucknell and Army.
7. Women’s basketball (7-14, 2-8 Patriot)
After beginning the season 5-3, the Lehigh women’s basketball team has only won two of its last 13 games. One of the wins came against Lafayette, which happens to be on a 20-game losing streak. It’s been a tough season for the a team that was predicted to finish third in the Patriot League. Part of the Hawks’ struggles can be attributed to the loss of their second-leading rebounder, senior Kiernan McCloskey. McCloskey tore her ACL in December and will miss the rest of the season.