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Close Matches Go Wrestling’s Way In 21-9 Win Over Lehigh
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Heading into halftime, it appeared Lehigh would take a 9-6 advantage over Cornell in Sunday afternoon’s dual match. Instead, sophomore Brian Realbuto showed he is back to form and reversed the score, figuratively and literally. The Big Red would go on to win a pair of overtime victories over ranked wrestlers after the break and go on for a 21-9 triumph over the Mountain Hawks.
After giving up a four-point move in the opening seconds of his matchup with 16th-ranked Mitch Minotti, seventh-ranked Realbuto chipped away, chipped away until he was able to use a five-point move in the closing seconds for an 11-8 comeback win at 157 pounds, silencing the Lehigh home crowd. Top-ranked Gabe Dean later won his second match fo the weekend against a top five wrestler in sudden victory with a takedown and Jace Bennett earned his second win over a grappler ranked in the top 11 in eight days at 197 in the rideout sessions.
Despite the lopsided final, the match was anything but dull. Three matches were decided in overtime, another three by three points or less. Even heavily favored wrestlers from 125 to 149 couldn’t gain bonus points in the spirited dual. With the win, Cornell improved to 10-1, while the Mountain Hawks fell to 10-4. It was Cornell’s fourth straight against the Mountain Hawks and its 39th straight against EIWA competitors.
Nahshon Garrett immediately ran through Scott Parker for a takedown to open the dual at 125. After riding him for nearly a minute, Parker escaped and the rookie go the crowd into the match with a takedown of Garrett down shortly after to take the lead. Garrett escaped to tie the match, then used a double leg to close out the period with a takedown just before the final buzzer to end the first up 5-3. Garrett chose bottom to open the second and got the escape in the first 10 seconds to double up the rookie (6-3) for the only scoring of the period. Garrett was docked a point for roughing Parker after the whistle to make it 6-5 after the freshman escaped early in the third, but Garrett put the match away with a takedown for the win.
Bricker Dixon earned the first takedown over nationally ranked Mason Beckman less than a minute into the match, then cut him 18 seconds later. Dixon took down to start the second and escaped within the first 20 seconds to make it 3-1 for the Big Red grappler. Beckman tied it up late with a takedown with 25 seconds left in the second to make it 3-3. The Mountain Hawk look to take the lead in the third by choosing down and escaping 15 seconds into the period, then extended it to 6-3 on a takedown with a minute left and earned three back points, but after cutting Dixon to try and gain bonus points, couldn’t convert. Beckman still walked away with a 9-4 victory.
At 141, after a scoreless first period, Logan David was riding 20th-ranked Randy Cruz strong for nearly a minute into the second before Lehigh’s ranked wrestler was able to reverse the situation to take a 2-0 lead. David nearly earned a defensive fall on Cruz in the final seconds of the period, but couldn’t draw the swipe. David chose down to open the third, and though Cruz rode him out, David kept the damage to a minimum in the team score despite dropping a gutty 3-0 decision.
No. 7 Chris Villalonga grabbed a quick takedown to open the 149-pound match, then cut Drew Longo before ripping him back down after elevating a single leg and using a trip for the takedown to make it 4-1. He again cut the freshman, but couldn’t find that third takedown and went into the second up 4-2. Villalonga chose down to begin the second, earned the escape and then a takedown to extend the advantage to 7-2, putting him in position for possible bonus points. After an escape by Longo, the Big Red All-America candidate went into the third leading 7-3. Longo escaped to cut the deficit to 7-4, but a Villalonga takedown allowed the senior to gather the minute of riding time needed, and he cut Longo. Needing a takedown to pick up the major, Villalonga’s last shot was held off, but he still claimed the decisive win.
Minotti took Realbuto down to his back for an early four-point move, but Realbuto reversed it to get two of those points back right away. He settled down from there, though Minotti’s escape made it 5-2 midway through the first. Realbuto nearly had a takedown, but ran out of time in the final seconds for no score. Realbuto earned an escape to open the second to cut the deficit to 5-3, but Minotti was able to fight off a great shot attempt by the Big Red wrestler and went into the third leading 5-3. Minotti chose to start down and reversed the sophomore to gain a 7-3 edge. Realbuto escaped to get back within 7-4, then earned a takedown with 40 seconds left to make it 7-6. He chose to start neutral and gave up the point, and Realbuto earned the takedown and three back points in the final seconds – Minotti was able to avoid the fall, but Realbuto captured the win.
After a scoreless first, former Big Red grappler Marshall Peppelman earned an escape to open the second, but Dylan Palacio took him down to gain a 2-1 advantage, then rode out his former teammate for nearly two and a half minutes. Palacio won a scramble in the third for a takedown, then cut Peppelman to make it 4-2. The sophomore earned another takedown and two back points to extend the advantage to 8-2, then cut him with 39 seconds left. Needing a final takedown to earn the major decision, Palacio took a shot, but Peppelman was able to fend it off.
Duke Pickett‘s first period takedown was partially neutralized by a locking hands call against the Big Red junior to make it 2-1, and Santiago Martinez escaped to tie it at 2-2. Pickett chose down to start the second and escaped to take the 3-2 lead, then made it 5-2 with a takedown with 20 seconds left. Martinez escaped in the final seconds to narrow the lead to 5-3 entering the third. Martinez chose bottom to begin the final two minutes and earned the escape to get within 5-4. Pickett was able to defend the final minutes of the match to gain the one-point triumph.
In the feature match at 184, Dean and third-ranked Nathaniel Brown had a scoreless first period. Brown gained a quick escape in the second to take the lead, but Dean tied it up after escaping in the third and nearly reversed him before both wrestlers went out of bounds. The match went into sudden victory, where Dean appeared to have a takedown in front of Lehigh’s bench at the edge of the match, but the officials waved off the move. After video review, it was determined Dean had the takedown with 20 seconds left, and for the second straight day he defeated a top five wrestler in overtime.
With the dual all but clinched, Jace Bennett and Elliot Riddick went scoreless for the first three minutes. Riddick chose neutral to open the second and wasn’t able to score. Bennett chose to take bottom in the third and Riddick was able to surpass a minute of ride time, but Bennett escaped to go up 1-0 shortly after. With the score virtually tied, neither wrestler shot for the final 30 seconds to go to overtime. Riddick was in deep on a shot in the sudden victory, but time ran out. Lehigh asked for a video replay of the possible takedown or neutral fall, but it was denied and send into rideouts. Bennett chose down first and escaped four seconds in, then was able to ride out Riddick to take the victory.
Like the two matches prior, heavyweights went into the second period scoreless before Lehigh’s Doug Vollaro got on the board with his escape to go up 1-0. Jacob Aiken-Phillipsearned the late takedown in the second to take the lead, then chose neutral to start the third. The senior was able to defend until Vollaro pulled him down with 40 seconds to play to take the lead, but Aiken-Phillips quickly escaped to tie and send the third straight match to sudden victory. Vollaro was able to earn the takedown 40 seconds into overtime to close the dual on a positive note for the Mountain Hawks.
Cornell continues dual meet competition next weekend when it hosts Princeton on Friday, Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m., then Lock Haven on Saturday, Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m.
Cornell 21, Lehigh 9
125: #3 Nahshon Garrett (C) won by decision over Scott Parker (L), 9-5
133: #11 Mason Beckman (L) won by decision over Bricker Dixon (C), 9-4
141: #20 Randy Cruz (L) won by decision over Logan David (C), 3-0
149: #7 Chris Villalonga (C) won by decision over Drew Longo (L), 9-5
157: #7 Brian Realbuto (C) won by decision over #16 Mitch Minotti, 11-8
165: #11 Dylan Palacio (C) won by decision over Marshall Peppelman (L), 10-3
174: Duke Pickett (C) won by decision over Santiago Martinez (L), 5-4
184: #1 Gabe Dean (C) won by decision over #3 Nathaniel Brown (L), 3-1 (sv1)
197: #14 Jace Bennett (C) won by decision over #11 Elliott Riddick (L), 2-1 (ot1)
285: Doug Vollaro (L) won by decision over Jacob Aiken-Phillips (C), 5-3 (sv1)