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Mids defeat #12 Mountain Hawks for first time since 2007
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A major decision by Navy 125-pound junior Aaron Kalil (Salem, N.H.) over Mitch Berger sealed the win for the Mids, as the Navy wrestling team scored a 19-15 upset victory over No. 12 Lehigh Saturday evening at Halsey Field House in Annapolis. The Mountain Hawks came into the match having won 13 of the last 14 matches in the series with the Mids’ last win over Lehigh coming on Jan. 13, 2007, in Annapolis.
“All of the hard work that we have put in over the last several months paid off tonight,” said 11th-year Navy head coach Bruce Burnett, who inched a step closer to his 100th by earning his 98th-career victory. “We competed hard from top to bottom and we earned some upset wins because we wrestled smart. Prior to the match I told the guys that we needed to win the battle of the mind and the battle of the body, but more importantly we needed to win the battle of the heart.
“Lehigh is well coached and Pat Santoro has done a phenomenal job with that wrestling program.”
Santoro’s Mountain Hawks looked strong in the opening bouts, building a 6-0 advantage following decisions by 141-pound Stephen Dutton over Navy’s Dustin Haislip (Inwood, W.Va.) and 149-pound Joey Napoli over the Mids’ Eric Filipowicz (Elkridge, Md.).
Burnett, however, looked to his team captain to get the Mids back into the match. And seventh-ranked Bryce Saddoris (Spring Creek, Nev.) didn’t disappoint. Lehigh junior Sean Bilodeau opened the match fearless and went after Saddoris, scoring the match’s opening points with a takedown halfway through the opening period. Saddoris quickly broke free and had Bilodeau on the mat less than 15 seconds later and at the 2:13 mark of the match, official Jeff Cook slapped the mat and awarded Saddoris a win by fall. The pin quickly erased the Lehigh lead and sparked a four-match run by the Mids.
Navy took the lead for good when 165-pound sophomore Mason Bailey (Fairmont, W.Va.) pulled the evening’s first upset, a 5-4 win over 18th-ranked Brandon Hatchett. After a scoreless opening period, Bailey took a quick lead in the second with a reversal, but seven seconds later Hatchett knotted the match with his own version of a reversal. Bailey eventually took the lead into the third period by earning the point for the escape.
The third period began with Hatchett getting to the neutral position to tie the match at 3-3, but Bailey quickly went for Hatchett’s legs and got him to the ground for a 5-3 advantage. Although Hatchett would get on his feet and free from Bailey, it was too little, too late and Bailey his first-career win over a ranked foe.
“I’ve been so close in so many matches,” said an elated Bailey following the match. “It’s about time that I stepped up and wrestled hard and got a win for this team and myself. I have some of the best practice partners in the country and I have no doubt that each of them – Robby Neill, Bryce Saddoris, Luke Rebertus, Bobby Barnhisel – they all helped me get to where I am now and get this win tonight.”
Navy continued to keep the pressure on the Mountain Hawks with senior Matt DeMichiel (Whitesboro, N.Y.) stunning No. 9 Austin Meys at 174 pounds. With the match deadlocked at 3-3 after the first period, DeMichiel would score the only point of the second to take a 4-3 lead. Meys then evened the match at 4-4 with an escape to start the third. DeMichiel, who had not wrestled since Dec. 19 at the Reno Tournament of Champions because of an injury, made his clinching move with 1:25 left in the match, a takedown that gave him a 6-4 advantage. Meys eventual got free with just over a minute to go, but succumbed to DeMichiel, 6-5.
“Meys is a strong kid, so going into the match I felt like I needed to keep him on his toes and get a lot of movement in on him,” said DeMichiel, who earned his second-career victory over a ranked foe and first this season. “It felt great to get back onto the mat after being out for so long. This win not only was huge for us tonight, but it’s important because it’s against an EIWA opponent and that will be important for seeding at the EIWA Tournament.”
The two upset victories led into perhaps the most anticipated match of the evening, a battle at 184 pounds between No. 5 Robert Hamlin of Lehigh and 18th-ranked Luke Rebertus (Gloucester, Va.) of Navy. Both wrestlers came into the match having won two huge matches the week prior. While Rebertus defeated then 14th-ranked Eric Schmidtke of Oklahoma in a tie-breaker, Hamlin downed the nation’s top-ranked wrestler, Joe LeBlanc of Wyoming at the Virginia Duals.
Rebertus struck first with a takedown 30 seconds into the match and built a 3-1 advantage through the first two periods. Hamlin cut into the lead with an escape to start the third before Rebertus was dinged for his second stall warning to tie the match at 3-3. He did, however, redeem himself with a takedown with under a minute to go. Hamlin broke free with 37 seconds remaining, but Rebertus held on to earn the 5-4 win and record his third win over a ranked wrestler this season.
“I was really pumped up for this match,” said Rebertus. “I just won at Oklahoma and he (Hamlin) just knocked off the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the country. I was excited to get the win, but more importantly I was glad that I could contribute to the team. It was an awesome environment and I always enjoy wrestling against Lehigh.
“This season has gone where I had hoped, but I have more goals to achieve. I have to make up for only wrestling half of last season and so I’m training harder, I’m working harder and I make every practice count.”
Trailing 15-6, Lehigh worked its way back into the match with a 4-2 win by 14th-ranked Joe Kennedy over Navy senior Greg Prioleau (Poway, Calif.) at 197 pounds, followed by the narrowest of victories by No. 1-ranked Zach Rey over Navy senior Mike Landis (Hershey, Pa.). With the match tied at 1-1 with two minutes to go in the match, Landis made the smallest of errors and Rey was quick to take advantage of it and brough Landis to the mat with 1:34 to go. The Navy senior who last saw action on Dec. 29 at the Southern Scuffle was able to get to within one, 3-2, with an escape, but it would be the final margin.
“I tip my hat to Mike Landis who had a chance to beat the No.1 wrestler in the country tonight,” said Burnett. “He had a chance because he did the right things and let me tell you, Zach Rey is a really good wrestler.”
With two matches remaining, Navy was clinging to a three-point advantage at 15-12. Kalil went into his match against Lehigh senior Mitch Berger knowing he needed to take care of business. He looked like a man on a mission, building a 7-1 lead at the end of the first period and a 10-1 advantage after two. By match’s end he had produced three takedowns, a three-point nearfall and nearly two minutes in riding time (1:58) to not only earn a win for the Mids, but the major decision put the match out of reach for the Mountain Hawks.
Navy junior 133-pound Tyler Sackett (Omaha, Neb.) had upset on his mind throughout the match, building a 6-3 lead through the opening period. However, 20th-ranked Frank Cagnina fought back to a 6-6 tie after two. The two wrestlers went back and forth and after a Sackett escape with 28 seconds left, the match was all tied up at 8-8. However, Cagnina won the bout, 9-8, thanks to his 1:30 of riding time.
“I want our guys to enjoy the win because it was well deserved,” said Burnett. “However, I also told them not to rest on it. While we had more points than Lehigh at the end of the match, we made some small mistakes and we need to continue to get better. I think we have pretty much everybody on board now believing in our hard work and what we are doing in practice daily is making the difference when we step onto the match in competition.”
The Midshipmen return to action next Friday when they play host to Liberty in what will be the two programs’ first meeting. Action is on tap to begin at 7:00 pm at Halsey Field House. Navy will then make the short trip to College Park on Saturday where the Mids will battle Maryland beginning at 4:00 pm at the Comcast Center.
141 – Stephen Dutton (L) won by dec. Dustin Haislip (N), 9-5 0-3
149 – Joey Napoli (L) won by dec. Eric Filipowicz (N), 8-2 0-6
157 – #8 Bryce Saddoris (N) won by fall Sean Bilodeau (L), 2:13 6-6
165 – Mason Bailey (N) won by dec. #18 Brandon Hatchett (L), 5-4 9-6
174 – Matt DeMichiel (N) won by dec. #9 Austin Meys (L) , 6-5 12-6
184 – #18 Luke Rebertus (N) won by dec. #5 Robert Hamlin (L), 5-4 15-6
197 – #14 Joe Kennedy (L) won by dec. Greg Prioleau (N), 4-2 15-9
HWT – #1 Zach Rey (L) won by dec. Mike Landis (N), 3-2 15-12
125 – Aaron Kalil (N) won by major dec. Mitch Berger (L), 13-3 19-12
133 – #20 Frank Cagnina (L) won by dec. Tyler Sackett (N), 9-8 19-15