USA Wrestling

Mar 04 With three champs, Cornell edges Lehigh by 2.5 points for sixth straight EIWA team title

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | March 04, 2012, 9:40 a.m. (ET)
Cam Simaz of Cornell takes down Micah Burak of Penn in the 197-pound EIWA finals for his fourth career title. Lindsey Mechalik photo

PRINCETON, N.J. -- The team race at the 2012 EIWA Championships at Jadwin Gymnasium went down to the final match of the night. Cornell, the five-time defending team champion did not have an athlete in the match.

Cam Simaz won his fourth career EIWA title at 197 pounds, only the 11th athlete to win this major event all four years. His 9-4 victory was over Micah Burak of Penn, the third time he has beaten Burak in the conference finals. Simaz' win put Cornell ahead of Lehigh by 2.5 points going into that match.

The heavyweight battle was another showdown between NCAA champion Zach Rey of Lehigh and NCAA runner-up Ryan Flores of American. A Rey victory would give the Mountain Hawks the team title.

As expected, it was a close battle, going to overtime tied at 1-1 when both athletes scored an escape. With it all on the line, Flores scored a takedown in sudden victory overtime for a 3-1 win.

Last year, Flores beat Rey in the finals, 4-2 in overtime but Rey rebounded to defeat Flores in the NCAA finals, 2-1.

Cornell athletes, coaches and fans let out a big sigh of relief, and walked off with their sixth team title in a row, a modern era record for consecutive team victories.

"It made me a big Flores fan. To be honest, I was cheering pretty loudly at the end" said Cornell head coach Rob Koll. "We are obviously disappointed it had to come down to heavyweight. We would have liked to have had five champions tonight."

Flores admitted that he heard that the finals match would be a factor in the team race, but he did not pay any much attention. Beating Rey was motivation enough. The win gives him the probable No. 1 seed at the NCAA Championships and an edge going into the nationals in St. Louis.

"I took away what I learned last year in our four matches, and made those improvements. I made my strengths closer in line with his weaknesses, and it made the small difference to make that takedown in overtime" said Flores.

Both Cornell and Lehigh ended up with three individual champions. Winning for the Big Red along with Simaz were Frank Perrelli (125) and two-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake (157). It was second career EIWA crowns for both Perrelli and Dake. Cornell went three for five in the finals.

Dake scored the only takedown in a victory over Walter Peppleman of Harvard, 3-0. He has won EIWA titles as a freshman and junior, placing second to Bucknell's Kevin Levalley in last year's finals at 149.

Perrelli defeated hometown favorite Garrett Frey of Princeton, 7-4. Perrelli scored an early takedown and second-period reversal to jump to a lead he would never relinquish.

Frey's older brother is the late Adam Frey, who competed for Cornell before he got sick with cancer and staged a public battle with the disease.

Koll can't say enough about Simaz, who received two major awards, the Outstanding Wrestler of the event as well as the most team points scored in a career among EIWA competitors.

"The guy is such a team player. Every match this season, he'd get a big pin or bonus points to help the team. The way he wrestles, he is the kind of kid who is going to win a national championship. He doesn't leave anything out on the mat" said Koll.

Lehigh came home with individual champions Shane Welsh (149), Brandon Hatchett (165) and Robert Hamlin (184), going three for four in the finals.

Welsh, the sixth seed, wrestled with confidence and stopped eighth-seed Kevin Tao of American, 4-0 for his first EIWA title.

Top seed Brandon Hatchett got by defending EIWA champion Scott Winston of Rutgers, 4-2, in sudden victory overtime for the win.

Hamlin's victory was a big boost for the Mountain Hawks. He defeated No. 1 seed Steve Bosak of Cornell, 3-2, in the only head-to-head bout between the top two teams. Hamlin scored the winning takedown in the final period with 28 seconds left on the clock for his second straight EIWA title.

Hamlin beat Bosak in the EIWA finals last year, 6-5 and went on to place second at the NCAA Championships, while Bosak placed fourth at the NCAAs.

Lehigh Head Coach Pat Santoro was named by his peers as the EIWA Coach of the Year for his team's achievement, especially after a challenging year burdened with injuries.

"It was a great effort. We are very proud of them" said Santoro. "Nine guys qualified for the nationals, we had three champions and four in the finals. They all wrestled well and wrestled hard. We came up a little short. The ultimate goal is St. Louis. That is what we are focused upon now."

Cornell entered the finals with a 2.5 point lead after the morning session. The Big Red had a disappointing afternoon when Billy George was tossed out of the tournament with a flagrant misconduct at 174 pounds, losing all of his points, causing an 11-point swing in the standings. Cornell's lead after the semifinals had been 17.5 points.

"About losing those points with Billy George. He is young guy who did a really stupid thing and embarrassed himself and the team and he's ashamed. At this point, we now have to focus on two weeks from now, and winning a national championship" said Koll.

Five of the champion won for at least the second time, with Simaz' four, Flores three and second titles from Perrelli, Hamlin and Matt Mariacher of American (141).

Mariacher was defending champion but was seeded fifth. He defeated No. 2 seed Mike Nevinger of Cornell, 6-4. Mariacher scored two first-period takedowns and a second-period takedown to take the lead, 6-3. Nevinger took top in the third period, hoping for a turn, riding the entire 2:00 but not getting any exposure points.

The champion at 174 pounds was unseeded Dave Foxen of Brown, who beat No. 4 seed Oscar Huntley of Navy, 3-2 with a late takedown.

Foxen became the first unseeded wrestler to win an EIWA title since 1963, when Navy's Gerald Frantzen won the 177-pound title.

The other individual champion was Penn's Brian Ortenzio, who edged Aaron Kalil of Navy, 2-1 at 133 pounds.

The EIWA had 46 NCAA qualifiers up for grabs, ranging from six deep at three weight classes down to three deep at two weight classes.

At Princeton, N.J., March 4

125 pounds (3 NCAA qualifiers)
1st - Frank Perrelli (Cornell) dec. Garrett Frey (Princeton), 7-4
3rd - Austin Miller (Bucknell) dec. Billy Waterson (Brown), 3-2
5th - Tyler Sackett (Navy) dec. Thomas Williams (American), 7-5
7th - Alexander Abreu (Lehigh) maj. dec. Scott Filbert (Army), 10-0

133 pounds (5 NCAA qualifiers)
1st - Brian Ortenzio (Penn) dec. Aaron Kalil (Navy), 2-1
3rd -Steven Keith (Harvard) dec. Mason Beckman (Lehigh), 4-2, ot
5th - Naryman Arujau (Cornell) dec. Kyle Gilchrist (Columbia), 7-4
7th -Jordan Thome (Army) med. fft. over Christopher Perez (Princeton)

141 pounds (6 NCAA qualifiers)
1st - Matt Mariacher (American) dec. Mike Nevinger (Cornell), 6-4
3rd -Stephen Dutton (Lehigh) dec. Billy Ashnault (Rutgers), 7-3
5th - Zach Kemmerer (Penn) dec. Richard Durso (F&M), 7-6
7th - Matt Bystol (Columbia) maj. dec. Zach Tannenbaum (Brown), 8-0

149 pounds (6 NCAA qualifiers)
1st - Shane Welsh (Lehigh) dec. Kevin Tao (American), 4-0
3rd - Chris Villalonga (Cornell) dec. Steve Santos (Columbia), 4-3
5th - Stephen Robertson (Penn) med. fft. over Corey Jantzen (Harvard)
7th - Zach Bintliff (Princeton) dec. Andrew Murano (F&M), 9-3

157 pounds (6 NCAA qualifiers)
1st - Kyle Dake (Cornell) dec.Walter Peppleman (Harvard), 3-0
3rd - Ganbayar Sanjaa (American) dec. Daniel Kolodzik (Princeton), 8-3
5th - Jake O'Hara (Columbia) dec. Brian Tanen (Lehigh), 6-5
7th -John Regan (Bucknell) dec. Troy Hernandez (Penn), 5-3

165 pounds (4 NCAA qualifiers)
1st - Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) dec. Scott Winston (Rutgers), 4-2, sv
3rd - Coleman Gracey (Army) dec. Marshall Peppleman (Cornell), 9-4 ot
5th - Corey Lear (Bucknell) dec. Mason Bailey (Navy), 6-2
7th -Lorenzo Thomas (Pennsylvania) dec. Eren Civan (Columbia), 10-4

174 pounds (4 NCAA qualifiers)
1st - Dave Foxen (Brown) dec. Oscar Huntley (Navy), 3-2
3rd - Greg Zanetti (Rutgers) med. fft over Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh)
5th - Stephen West (Columbia) by forfeit
7th - Matt Fullowan (F&M) naj. dec. Ian Korb (Penn), 8-0

184 pounds (4 NCAA qualifiers)
1st - Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. Steve Bosak (Cornell), 3-2
3rd - Erich Smith (Penn) dec. Ophir Bernstein (Brown), 8-3
5th - Luke Rebertus (Navy) dec. Cameron Croy (Harvard), 3-2
7th - Michael Gorman (Army) med. fft. over Zachary Moran (Sacred Heart)

197 pounds (5 NCAA qualifiers)
1st - Cam Simaz (Cornell) dec. Micah Burak (Penn), 9-4
3rd - Joe Kennedy (Lehigh) dec. Daniel Rinaldi (Rutgers), 9-3
5th - Derek Stanley (Army) dec. Daniel Mitchell (American), 4-3
7th - James Fox (Harvard) dec. Colin Ely (F&M), 2-0

285 pounds (3 NCAA qualifiers)
1st - Ryan Flores (American) dec. Zach Rey (Lehigh), 3-1, sv
3rd - Kevin Lester (Columbia) dec. Daniel Miller (Navy), 6-4
5th - Maciej Jochym (Cornell) pin Steven Graziano (Penn), 1:53
7th - Daniel Hopkins (Rutgers) dec. Daniel Mills (Army), 3-1

Team Standings
1. Cornell, 151.5
2. Lehigh, 149
3. American, 103
4. Pennsylvania, 94.5
5. Navy, 85
6. Columbia, 78.5
7. Rutgers, 74.5
8. Harvard, 59
9. Army, 57.5
10. Brown, 48
11. Princeton, 44
12. Franklin and Marshall, 29
13. Bucknell, 28.5
14. Sacred Heart, 6