Lehigh senior Darian Cruz faces off against the University of Michigan’s Drew Mattin at the Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. The No. 10 Mountain Hawks won the match against the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines, 27-8, on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. (B&W Staff/Michelle Wolff)

No. 9 Lehigh falls to No. 10 Virginia Tech in top-10 showdown, 20-17

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The No. 9 Lehigh wrestling team was only able to capitalize on four of the 10 bouts in Friday’s dual against No. 10 Virginia Tech, falling 20-17 on the road.

The first time the Mountain Hawks (9-3, 7-1 EIWA) faced off against the Hokies (11-2) was in 2000. Since then, Lehigh has won just two of five duals against the Virginia team, and its most recent victory was in 2010.

The current team has never beat Virginia Tech.

During the first half of the top-10 dual, the Hokies claimed three of the five bouts, leading by a margin at intermission.

Defending national champion and 2nd-ranked senior Darian Cruz started off the dual by picking up a forfeit win at 125 and building a 6-0 advantage right from the start.

Seventeenth-ranked Dennis Gustafson challenged sophomore Nick Farro, who stood in again for sidelined 8th-ranked senior Scott Parker, at 133. Farro was able to set the pace during the first half of the bout, but ultimately couldn’t match Gustafson, who rode out the remainder of the bout on top and finished with a 3-2 decision. Gustafson brought Virginia Tech to 6-3 going into the third bout.

Thirteenth-ranked sophomore Luke Karam shut out Brent Moore in a 4-0 decision at 141 and increased Lehigh’s lead to 9-3.

Senior Cortlandt Schuyler sustained an injury in last Sunday’s dual against Army, giving senior Jonathan Mele a shot on the mat in tonight’s dual. Mele and Ryan Blees were evenly matched at 149 until Blees scored a takedown and a bonus point, which proved to be a key part of the dual. Mele was unable to regain his momentum in the 14-6 major decision. Virginia Tech edged closer to Lehigh with 9-7 on the scoreboard.

The top-10 clash saw double overtime during the fifth bout at 157. Senior Ian Brown and B.C. LaPrade were neck and neck with each other until LaPrade took control and finished with a 3-2 decision. Virginia Tech surpassed Lehigh and took the lead heading into intermission, 10-9, leaving the Mountain Hawks trailing behind by one point.

Coming off intermission, 20th-ranked senior Gordon Wolf met All-American 4th-ranked David McFadden, who remains undefeated on the year. The takedowns of the bout went to McFadden for the 8-2 win at 165. Lehigh fell further behind at 13-9.

At 174, 5th-ranked junior Jordan Kutler dominated the bout against Cody Hughes in a 24-9 major decision. Kutler got Lehigh back on track with a one-point lead, 14-13.

With 4th-ranked senior Ryan Preisch out for another dual, junior Paul Dunn and 8th-ranked Zack Zavatsky faced off at 184. Dunn was outmatched by Zavatsky, who controlled the bout in a 10-1 major decision and built a 17-14 advantage for Virginia Tech.

Sophomore Chris Weiler scored a takedown in the first period of the 197 faceoff, but 2nd-ranked Jared Haught immediately took over and claimed the bout with riding time in a 7-6 decision to build on the Hokies’ lead, 20-14.

With Lehigh trailing behind by three and a pin needed for a Mountain Hawk victory, 12th-ranked heavyweight sophomore Jordan Wood shut out 18th-ranked Andrew Dunn in a 3-0 decision but couldn’t get the pin.

Lehigh was unable to regain its early lead, losing the dual by three to its No. 10 competitor.

The Mountain Hawks will head out on the road again Friday, Feb. 9 to face off against No. 8 Arizona State in their fourth top-10 showdown of the season, which will be the third to last dual before the EIWA Championships.

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