The Lehigh wrestling team is preparing for the 2021 NCAA Wrestling Championships after winning their fourth consecutive Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Tournament on Feb. 26.
Lehigh outlasted Navy 158.5-129 in the EIWA tournament behind four individual championships.
Jaret Lane, Malyke Hines, Jake Jakobsen and Jordan Wood all took home individual titles in the EIWA Tournament in their respective weight classes.
Lehigh is now preparing to send 10 wrestlers to compete in the annual NCAA Wrestling Championship, taking place between March 18-20 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Dylan Ammerman, a fifth-year from Dushore, Pennsylvania, said he is overjoyed to be wrestling with nine of his teammates at the national championship this year.
This will be Ammerman’s first time qualifying, and he said seeing nine other members of his team qualify speaks to the quality of the program and the intensity of practice.
Ammerman is grateful to have another shot at a national title after having the opportunity abruptly taken away last March due to COVID-19.
“After it was canceled last year, there were so many times this season where we were paused or shut down for a few weeks and it was really tough because in the back of my mind I kept thinking we weren’t going to wrestle at nationals this year,” he said.
Jimmy Hoffman, a senior from Drums, Pennsylvania, agreed with Ammerman and said training has been an added challenge due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Training was brutal this year,” Hoffman said. “I don’t think we had more than two consecutive weeks of training with everyone there because of COVID and contact tracing. Trying to put together training sessions was tough.”
Despite the adversity the team has faced, they continue to prepare themselves for the NCAA tournament.
Ammerman said with the national championship weeks away, he is focusing on his conditioning.
“I am wrestling as hard as possible every day,” he said. “Right now it’s all about conditioning. You can get better at wrestling but the main goal is conditioning and working as hard as you can to be in the best shape possible.”
Ammerman said that ultimately, the team owes their success this year to the coaches who have developed ways for the team to stay in shape and stay prepared despite the lack of practice time.
After losing his first match in the EIWA Tournament, Luca Frinzi, a redshirt freshman, wrestled back and fought for a third-place finish.
He said the atmosphere the team has created separates Lehigh from other programs in the country.
“We have become brothers,” Frinzi said.
After having to take last year off, qualifying wrestlers will look to continue Lehigh’s success later this week.