After finishing 9-9 last season, Lehigh’s wrestling team is ranked 28th in the nation according to InterMat.
Although the team will be without heavyweight graduate Jordan Wood, the first athlete in history to become a five time EIWA champion, the team’s 11 players from the 2026 recruitment class are picking up the slack this season.
Wood is the only graduate from last season who competed in the postseason.
Sophomores Max Brignola, who has qualified for the NCAA tournament but fell in two close matches, and Michael Beard, an All-American transfer from Penn State who finished 10-6 as a freshman, show promise in their futures as Lehigh wrestlers.
“I’m excited to see what (Beard’s) got and see him go out there and kill it,” senior Paul Watkins said.
The team has a lineup heavy with previous successes, including three Eastern Collegiate Wrestling Association champions, 11 NCAA qualifiers and two former All-Americans.
Last season, Lehigh had a promising start, finishing 3-2 in its first five matchups, 5-3 in the Patriot League and 6-2 playing at home. Lehigh also qualified for the NCAA tournament, which features 76 colleges from across the country.
Lehigh finished in a tie for 35th, 34th, tied for 25th, tied for 28th, tied for 25th and tied for 25th in the six sessions of the NCAA Championships.
Lehigh has a rich history in the sport of wrestling, having won 34 EIWA team championships and 203 individual EIWA championships.
The other schools in the EIWA division include American, Army, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Navy, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.
The team’s schedule was released Sept. 21 and includes many opponents with good records, including No. 1 ranked Penn State. In spite of this, the team is excited for the season to start.
“We have a lot of really good matches on deck,” senior Jaret Lane said. “Oklahoma State at home, Penn State at home, Oregon State who had a couple of All-Americans last year and Arizona State, so definitely going to have a lot of good matchups this year.”
The team will play six games at home and play at least four teams that finished top-15 in the NCAA tournament in previous years.
Coming into the season, Oklahoma State is ranked 13th in the nation, Arizona State is ranked 12th and Oregon State is ranked outside of the top 25.
Some players, such as senior Jake Logan, are taking different approaches to prepare for the upcoming season.
“I’m keeping my weight more in check,” Logan said. “So, my weight management’s going to be better and obviously, I should say my cardio is going to be better this year.”
Watkins said the team has also been ramping up on conditioning by doing lifts, running and getting in extra workouts.
Lane said a few weeks ago, the team met and each player wrote down their goals for the season.
“In the classroom, we’re trying to get up that team GPA and making sure everyone’s doing the right thing,” Lane said. “Other than that, we want several All-Americans. Last, we want a top team finish in the NCAA Tournament and a conference title for the team as well.”
The Mountain Hawks’ first game will take place on Nov. 5 at home in the Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall against Oregon State.