LHU Wrestling fails to pull out tight bouts, loses 32-9 at No. 13 Cornell

Lock Haven University’s Thomas Haines wrestles in an NCAA wrestling match at Cornell University on Saturday. LHU lost the meet, 32-9.

By SAM KUPERMAN

For The Express

ITHACA- The No. 21 Lock Haven University wrestling team came into Cornell’s Friedman Wrestling Center amped for a renewal of its rivalry with the Big Red. However, No. 13 Cornell (9-2) knocked off LHU (6-3) by a score of 32-9. Cornell won eight of the 10 bouts, as the Big Red clinched the dual after the eighth matchup.

Cornell has beaten Lock Haven three straight years for a reason, because the team is incredibly good. Now in his 25th year in Ithaca, head coach Rob Koll has built an absolute powerhouse. In the past two years LHU had wrestled Cornell pretty close, but failed to do so this time around.

“We knew it was gonna be a tough match,” Lock Haven head coach Scott Moore said. “We knew we needed to win some close ones. Hypothetically (174) 74, (184) 84 and (133) 33. It turned out just to be the same. (They were) really good matches. Just not finishing shots and giving up points at the end.”

The dual started off at 174, seemingly strategically done by Koll to try and clinch the contest before Lock Haven’s Chance Marsteller had the chance to hit the mat at 165. Cornell officially claimed victory after 149, but it felt like the Big Red had the win in the bag after 133.

The 174 bout went 4-3 to Cornell’s No. 15 Brandon Womack over LHU’s Jared Siegrist. The two scrapped to a one-point differential in last year’s win for Womack at Lock Haven.

A similar result took place at 184, with No. 10 Max Dean of Cornell edging Lock Haven’s No. 18 Corey Hazel 7-5 in another fight that came down to the finish. Dean defeated Hazel by three in Lock Haven last year too, doing so 5-2.

So close, yet so far. That was the theme for The Haven on the day.

“It’s not where we want to be, but at the end of the day it’s another test for our wrestlers and we an opportunity to put ourselves against one of the best teams in the country,” Moore said.

Heading into the 197 matchup with a 6-0 cushion, Cornell earned a major decision by No. 17 Ben Honis against Lock Haven freshman Parker McClellan. Honis was a heavy favorite and flexed his muscle to the tune of a 15-2 final score.

Giving up a major there in a vacuum wouldn’t be a big deal with a highly-touted senior over a talented, but still developing freshman. But, the score was 10-0 at that point, making things a little nerve-racking for LHU fans.

No. 9 Thomas Haines momentarily eased those nerves. The two-time heavyweight national-qualifier pinned Cornell’s Jeramy Sweany in a mere 1:39.

“He (Haines) has that kid’s number, he’s beaten him a few times,” Moore said. “He (Haines) got into a great scramble, came out on top with two and four, then just went to work. He saw the cradle, he attacked it, and rolled him right over.”

As Haines won, the collective cheer of the Lock Haven contingent on hand echoed through the compact Friedman Wrestling Center.

“That’s the Thomas Haines that we want to see compete and finish his senior career,” Moore added. “If he continues like that he’s gonna help the team finish strong and score a lot of points at nationals.”

The 125 bout went 11-4 to Cornell’s stellar freshman Vito Arujau. The No. 11 ranked wrestler earned the decision over Lock Haven sophomore Luke Werner. This led to intermission, with Lock Haven well within striking distance, down 13-6. The problem was, they never struck.

The 133 wrestlers were No. 13 Chas Tucker of Cornell and Lock Haven’s DJ Fehlman. Both were national qualifiers. Both were evenly matched. Both displayed this, but Tucker prevailed 9-5 in a controversial-overtime victory.

The LHU coaching staff vehemently disagreed with a third period stall tabbed to Fehlman. Then, there was confusion and displeasure at the fact that the matchup was stopped for a brief, but more than usual, period of time heading into overtime.

“Their guy (Tucker) is really good on his feet, he chose to pick bottom and DJ took advantage of that,” Moore said. “He (Fehlman) just really broke the momentum of the match. He had him (Tucker) really tired, had him broke, it didn’t look like he was gonna finish strong.

“But DJ got out and just a typical stall call where a guy was pushing and the ref thought like he wanted to even the match up. So DJ had the momentum going his way, they went back on their feet and that’s Tucker’s strong point.”

Ultimately, Tucker pulled away and earned a hard-fought victory. It’s worth noting that as frustrated as the coaching staff was at the way the scrap was called, the coaches were quick to congratulate Tucker for his impactful win by decision.

Things snowballed from there.

Lock Haven’s No. 20 Kyle Shoop was outmatched by Cornell’s reigning national champ Yianni Diakomihalis at 141. Diakomihalis continuously took down Shoop, then finished him off with a pin in 4:42.

Cornell had already won six of seven weight-classes to take a 22-6 lead headlining into the final three. Lock Haven not only needed wins at this point, the Bald Eagles needed to accumulate at least seven bonus points to keep their chances of upsetting the Big Red alive.

LHU’s Jonathan Ross was then overpowered 10-2 by Cornell’s Jonathan Furnas, leading to a major decision and an official victory for the home team. The Big Red then made it a rout, as Adam Santoro came back against Lock Haven’s Alex Klucker to win by fall in 3:46 at 157.

No. 5 Marsteller put a bookend on the dual with a 9-2 victory over Cornell freshman Andrew Berreyesa, but it was met with little celebration. The team had come up short in one of the most highly-anticipated duals of the season.

“It’s a loss, but it’s not without effort and not without fight,” Moore said. “You gotta take risks against good teams to create special things. We’ve done that in the past. This is a good rivalry with Cornell.”

The Bald Eagles now need to regroup and get ready for the February Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) slate. Lock Haven is 3-0 in the EWL, and every dual holds major implications concerning EWL Tournament seeding.

Two of the top teams in the EWL come into Lock Haven this weekend. Rider enters the Thomas Fieldhouse Friday night, with Clarion to follow Sunday.

“We’ll take what we can from this match, learn a little bit, and come back stronger next weekend,” Moore said.

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