If you would have told the Bucknell coaches they would be tied at 12 going into 184# with Lehigh, they would have been pleasantly surprised. And when Rustan Barrick took down Ben Haas 8-3 the Bison had forged a 12 all dual meet but with plenty of work to do to spring the upset. The dual meet started at 125# with the feature match of the night pitting #10 Darian Cruz against #19 Paul Petrov. Petrov pushed the action and pulled the 5-3 double OT upset in a match worthy of postseason NCAA competition as the home crowd roared their approval. Just like that it was Bucknell up 3-0.
Out trotted #7 Mason Beckman, fresh off a 30 win 2015 season for Lehigh. Grim Gonzalez laced them extra tight tonight for the Bison and when the fierce battle subsided the home town Orange and Blue had the Sojka Center rocking as Grim staked his side to an improbable 6-0 start against the 7th ranked Mountain Hawks. In a huge upset, Gonzalez pushed the pace and walked off with a 7-6 victory for Bucknell. As quickly as they arrived in town, the Mountain Hawks were reeling with two of their studs on the wrong side of dual meet bout scores.
Feeling good about themselves and the forthcoming bout, the Bison sent former Franklin Regional state champ Tyler Smith out to face a game Cortland Schuyler and the crowd felt like this bout could swell the Bison lead. In what some consider an upset, the 141# Bison grappler went high and attempted a body lock. Suddenly the folkstyle match morphed into a Greco match as Schuyler, adorned in the Lehigh brown, launched Smith to the mat and right to his back. Smith struggled for 30 seconds but there were almost two minutes on the first period clock when the ref slapped the mat for the Fall at 1:06. Suddenly, the hopes of a swollen Bucknell lead were dashed and in the slap of the mat it was 9-6 with #5 Mitch Minotti jogging into the arena for the Mountain Hawks. Oh what might have been.
Logan Kerin brought the Bison pride to the mat and in a tightly contested match, Minotti tied the dual meet at 9 with a hard fought 4-2 win and set the stage for the local hometown kid to make a difference for Lehigh. With a hundred youth wrestlers in the gym wearing Bison Legend wrestling gear, out trotted the former Bison Legend grappler from Milton High. There were mixed emotions as one of their own was decked out in Lehigh brown and was set to take on Robert Schlitt. The freshman from Lehigh by way of Milton, was tentative in front of the youth wrestlers for the first two periods but turned it on in the third to earn a hard fought 5-1 win and push his side to its first lead at 12-9.
Rustan Barrick wasted little time pulling the orange and blue even at 12 with a hard fought 8-3 win against Ben Haas and tantalized the crowd with thoughts of an upset. The dual was even again with three bouts left but the Bison would send out a true freshman and their NCAA qualifier stud heavyweight would not compete on this night. True freshman Nick Stephani faced fourth ranked Nathaniel Brown and lost a 25-10 tech fall bout that pushed the Lehigh lead to 17-12. Junior Tyler Greene stepped on the mat with the chance to pull Bucknell to within striking distance for the final bout of the night. #18 John Bolich was steady and strong in sealing the dual with a 6-1 decision over Greene.
With Joe Stolfi not ready to go the Bison sent senior Chuck Boddy to the mat to face fellow senior Max Wessell. The Mountain Hawk was steady early and picked up the pace late to earn a 10-3 decision and add the final points ending the dual in favor of the Mountain hawks 23-12.
While the Bucknell side scored the biggest upsets, they ran out of firepower down the stretch and dropped a tantalizingly close 23-12 dual to start the season. Next up for the Bison will be Franklin & Marshall as they look to even their record in the EIWA.