LHU falls to Cornell in tough 20-18 loss

LOCK HAVEN — When the 10th-ranked Cornell University wrestling team rolled into Mat Town USA for a Super Bowl matinee with Lock Haven University, many people might have serious apprehensions about what was about to take place.

However, after a little more than an hour-and-a-half of Division I wrestling, those apprehensions were merely a distant memory as the Bald Eagles went toe-to-toe with the Big Red before falling two points short in a 20-18 Cornell win.

The two teams split the 10 bouts down the middle at five apiece, but a 5-3 edge in bonus points was enough to carry Cornell over the top.

Obviously disappointed with the narrow loss, LHU head coach Scott Moore couldn’t help being upbeat as he looked back at how the meet unfolded.

“Our guys really showed up today,” said Moore. “After a long weekend with three duals at home, that was our (the coaches) message to them is that they needed to show up and fight. They listened to what we said because I feel we out-wrestled them. We started strong at 125 and they battled all the way through heavyweight. For the last home meet of the year against the 10th-ranked team in the country, we are just proud of the way they performed. Although it was a loss, I really believe that it was a win for the program.”

Freshman Luke Werner got the Bald Eagles off to a fast at 125 when he dominated Noah Baughman for a 17-1 technical fall in 5:38.

“I felt good right from the start and I didn’t want to let the team down,” said Werner. “I wanted to build some momentum to get us rolling. A lot of the times when I get the first takedown it just gets me rolling. If I wait a little bit before I get that first one it slows me down. But when I get the first one and then another, I can just pour them on. It was a tough loss and it would have been nice to get the win, but even though we wrestled well, it didn’t happen.”

The Big Red took the lead for the first time in the meet as Chaz Tucker was a 6-4 winner over D. J. Fehlman and Yianni Diakomihalis was too much on his feet for Kyle Shoop, Diakomihalis using four takedowns, an escape and 10 back points for his 19-3 technical fall.

Just prior to intermission and one bout after the break, the Bald Eagles put together three straight wins for their biggest lead of the day at 15-8.

Ronnie Perry was solid in a 5-3 win over Will Koll at 149, the son of Cornell head coach Rob Koll. Alex Klucker picked up a big win for the Bald Eagles at 157 as he used a takedown, a reversal and 3:07 time for a 5-2 nod over Freddy Stroker.

Following the break, Chance Marsteller did what Chance Marsteller does as he was all over Kyle Simaz for a 17-6 major decision. Marsteller dominated Simaz on his feet with a half dozen takedowns en route to his win.

“Sometimes I start out real fast and sometimes slow,” said Marsteller. “But once I get to my feet and got to my takedowns, I was able to work hard on top. It is sort of a Catch 22 because Coach Moore has everybody believing that they can turn anybody in the country and I am best on my feet, but when you can get that four-point turn, it changes the match. I think I waited a little too long before trying to get the turn. I probably should have gone for it a little bit earlier.”

With LHU holding a 15-8 lead and four bouts left on the card, the Big Red took the lead for keeps with three straight wins.

Brandon Womack won a controversial 5-4 decision over Jared Siegrist, Max Dean used a takedown, a pair of escapes and a time point for a 5-2 win over Corey Hazel at 184 and Ben Darmstadt gave the Big Red a 5-point lead when he caught and pinned Trey Hartsock at 197.

“At 174, one call that was made could have easily gone the other way and it would have changed the outcome of the match,” Moore said. “But regardless, I am certainly proud of our performance and it gives us something to grow on.”

Needing a fall for LHU to win the meet, the biggest Eagle, Thomas Haines, dominated Jeramy Sweany for a 9-3 decision, but couldn’t get the fall.

“The guys worked hard to put themselves in a position to win the meet and just back in the lineup from an injury, Haines wrestled a great match against a tough kid.”

With the solid performance, some of the LHU opponents might have had their eyes opened as the “Rise” is definitely just that, on the rise.

“I think some of the teams still underestimate us as to what we bring to the table,” said Moore. “If you have a couple of swing matches and guys like Marsteller and Perry whipping up big wins over quality opponents, it changes the complexion of the whole thing.”

The Bald Eagles will bring the curtain down on their 2017-18 dual meet season when they travel to Clarion Sunday afternoon for an EWL battle with the Golden Eagles. First whistle for that match is set for 2 p.m.