The NCAA wrestling championships were held this past weekend in Pittsburgh, and three out of the eight wrestlers from Lehigh walked away with All-American honors. Overall, the Mountain Hawks finished 13th in the country with 40.5 points.
Senior Ryan Preisch (184) and sophomore Jordan Wood (285) finished fourth in the country, and junior Jordan Kutler (174) finished seventh.
Preisch wrapped up his career with an overall record of 82-25 and finished his senior year at 24-5. He was a four-time NCAA qualifier, with one All-American recognition.
Kutler ended his junior campaign at 25-6 and is now a two-time All-American, while sophomore Wood finished the season with a 25-5 record and achieved All-American status for the first time in his collegiate career.
Freshman Josh Humphreys (157), sophomore Jake Jakobsen (197), sophomore Brandon Paetzell (133), senior Cortlandt Schuyler (149) and senior Gordon Wolf (165) all competed in the tournament as well.
Paetzell, who finished the year with a 15-13 overall record and placed third at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championship, said he feels like he has improved. He gained confidence throughout the entire season and is looking to build on that in order to acquire All-American status next March.
Wrestling in the NCAA tournament for the first time was special for Paetzell.
“I’ve dreamed of wrestling at the NCAAs since my first year of wrestling, so to be able to compete there was pretty special,” Paetzell said.
Kutler said he approached the tournament with a veteran mindset and didn’t try to make the moment bigger than what it actually was. He said the NCAA tournament is filled with tons of hype, but Kutler decided to approach it as if it was another wrestling match, just something he’s been doing his entire life.
After winning his first two matches, Kutler lost 4-2 in the quarterfinal round in overtime against Michigan’s top-seeded Myles Amine. Kutler went 2-0 against David McFadden of Virginia Tech in the consolation quarterfinals, but bounced back to place seventh with the 5-1 decision over Minnesota’s Devin Skatzka.
“I want to be a national champ,” Kutler said. “I’m satisfied, but I’m not 100 percent satisfied. I know I’m right
there. I let my quarterfinal match slip away from me in overtime.”
Kutler said he takes every loss as a lesson, and making the necessary adjustments will help him achieve his goal as a senior.
Wood, now fourth in the country, also feels incomplete. He said he appreciates being on the podium, but views All-American status as a stepping stone that comes before a National Champion title.
Wood achieved three wins in a row, but lost a 3-1 in overtime in the semifinals against the top seed of the tournament, Oklahoma State’s Derek White. Wood secured his best collegiate win after one of his hardest losses, when he won 7-1 in the consolation semifinals against Oregon State’s Amar Dhesi. Wood dropped a 4-0 decision against Minnesota’s Gable Steveson to finish fourth overall.
“I have a bunch of mixed feelings,” Wood said. “I had a few good wins, but I didn’t achieve the goals that I
wanted to achieve. The main takeaway from the tournament is that I’m right there, but I’m not where I want to be yet.”
The Mountain Hawks finished the season with an overall record of 9-9. Paetzell said the team battled a lot of injuries, but did not quit.
“We came together as a team this year, which says a lot about our program,” Kutler said. “It’s tough to start out the way we did and we bounced back to beat Cornell and win Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championships. We really did some special things as a team this year.”