Late Rally Falls Short As Mountain Hawks Fall 18-17 At Columbia

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NEW YORK-No. 21 Lehigh valiantly battled back from an 18-6 deficit with three bouts remaining, but the Mountain Hawks came up a point short in an 18-17 loss to Columbia Friday night at Levien Gymnasium. The Mountain Hawks won each of the final three bouts and earned a 5-5 split overall but couldn’t pick up the necessary six-point win or the needed technical fall or fall in the final bout.

The loss is Lehigh’s first against Columbia since 1922 as the Lions snapped a 10 dual Lehigh winning streak in the series. The Brown and White now lead the series 19-2.

“It was a tough start,” Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro said. “We had opportunities to get some bonus points in some matches, but we didn’t get them, while they got them. The toughest part is that we’re not making adjustments within a match. We’re making the same mistake twice and it was costing us.

“At some point you need to fight harder and make better adjustments,” Santoro continued. “Your mind is the biggest part of wrestling and we’re just not making those adjustments during matches. We fought hard but we’re making a lot of mental mistakes and it’s costing us.”

Third period comeback victories that came from reversals spurred Columbia to wins in two of the first three bouts. At 125, first-year Carter Bailey and Nick Babin went back-and-forth on reversals into a 2-2 tie after two periods. Bailey opened the third with a reversal to take a 4-2 lead but Babin answered with a reversal and locked up a cradle to get a key fall at 6:10 to stake the Lions to a 6-0 lead.

Sophomore Connor McGonagle returned to the Lehigh lineup with a 6-1 decision over Angelo Rini at 133, scoring takedowns in each of the first two periods plus a second period escape and riding time.

At 141, sophomore Malyke Hines took a 2-1 lead on Matt Kazimir with a reversal early in the third period, but Kazimir was credited with a reversal and a four-point near fall in the final minute that proved decisively in a 7-3 decision.

Sophomore Max Brignola recorded Lehigh’s second win, scrambling his way into a takedown in sudden victory to edge Danny Fongaro 3-1 at 149.

Max Brignola: clutch gene


— Lehigh Wrestling (@LehighWrestling) January 28, 2023

Following Brignola’s win, Columbia claimed three consecutive close bouts to lead 18-6. Sophomore Paul Watkins matched Cesar Alvan 1-1 in takedowns at 157 but a third period escape and stalling point after Watkins’ go ahead takedown gave the Lion a 5-4 decision.

Columbia’s Josh Ogunsanya followed with a 4-1 decision over sophomore Luca Frinzi at 165 behind a third period takedown.

The bout at 174 went to overtime tied at 3-3. Sophomore Jake Logan had the only takedown in regulation but it was Lennox Wolak scoring off Logan’s shot to claim the 5-3, sudden-victory decision.

“We had a chance to win all three of those matches,” Santoro said. “They were all crucial matches. At some point you need to refuse to lose. You need to make up your mind that you want to be great. You train to win these really hard-fought matches. Until you do it, you’ll never do it. The more you do it, the easier it gets.”

Graduate student Tate Samuelson was first up to try and erase the 12-point deficit. After a scoreless first period at 184, Samuelson reversed and rode out in the second period but could not add to his lead as he settled for a 4-1 decision.

Sophomore Michael Beard dominated Jack Wehmayer at 197 but fell short of the elusive fall, settling for a 26-10 technical fall, secured in 6:40.

Trailing 18-14 going into the final bout with Columbia owning the lone six-point victory, first-year Nathan Taylor needed a pin or a technical fall to give the Mountain Hawks the victory. Taylor went out to score points but couldn’t turn Billy McChesney, settling for a 12-5 decision that left Lehigh a point short.

The loss drops Lehigh to 6-8 overall, while Columbia improves to 3-5.

The Mountain Hawks return to Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall on Saturday to battle No. 17 Arizona State at 6 pm The match will be Lehigh’s White Out night with a Lehigh wrestling rally towel giveaway for all fans in attendance. A handful of obstructed view seats and standing room only tickets remain available and can be purchased at

The 2022-23 Lehigh wrestling season is presented by the Historic Hotel Bethlehem.

Columbia 18, no. 21 Lehigh 17
125 – Nick Babin (Columbia) case Carter Bailey (Lehigh) 6:10
133 – Connor McGonagle (Lehigh) dec. Angelo Rini (Columbia) 6-1
141 – Matt Kazimir (Columbia) dec. Malyke Hines (Lehigh) 7-3
149 – Max Brignola (Lehigh) dec. Danny Fongaro (Columbia) 3-1, sv
157 – Cesar Alvan (Columbia) dec. Paul Watkins (Lehigh) 5-4
165 – Josh Ogunsanya (Columbia) dec. Luca Frinzi (Lehigh) 4-1
174 – Lennox Wolak (Columbia) dec. Jake Logan (Lehigh) 5-3, sv
184 – Tate Samuelson (Lehigh) dec. Aaron Ayzerov (Columbia) 4-1
197 – Michael Beard (Lehigh) tech fall Jack Wehmayer (Columbia) 26-10, 6:40
285 – Nathan Taylor (Lehigh) dec. Billy McChesney (Columbia) 12-5

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