EIWA Conference Preview

By Craig Sesker | Oct. 18, 2001, 12 a.m. (ET)
It was not the kind of finish Lehigh envisioned. But Lehigh's 13th-place finish last March at the NCAA Championships was understandable after it lost talented freshman Jon Trenge to a late-season eye injury. Trenge, expected to contend for a national title at 197 pounds, suffered a detached retina that caused him to miss the conference and NCAA meets. With Trenge back, along with All-Americans Mario Stuart (fifth at 125) and Chris Vitale (seventh at 165), expect Lehigh to contend for a top-10 national finish this year. Lehigh is strong in the upper weight classes with Brad Dillon (174), Rob Rohn (184) and Shawn Laughlin (heavyweight) also expected to contribute. "We were disappointed with 13th place last year, but pleased with three All-Americans," Lehigh coach Greg Strobel said. "We have a team that can win the Easterns and place in the Top 10 nationally. We have some potential All-Americans and a few guys that could make the NCAA finals." Fellow EIWA power Pennsylvania, 20th in last year's NCAA tournament, returns one of the nation's most talented athletes in Yoshi Nakamura at 157. Nakamura was seventh at the NCAA meet. Rick Springman (174) also is back for Penn. Springman was fifth in the 2000 NCAA meet before taking a year off last season. The Quakers expect to contend for the league title with Mason Lenhard (125), Joe Henson (149), Josh Henson (165) and Mike Faust (197) also making key contributions. Defending league champion Harvard will look to repeat with national qualifiers Jesse Jantzen (133), Pat O'Donnell (165) and Dawid Rechul (heavyweight) back from last year. Harvard will be looking to replace three national qualifiers from last season. Senior Jim Stanec will lead the way for Cornell after he finished seventh in the NCAAs at 174. Cornell also features one of the nation's most promising newcomers in true freshman Travis Lee (125), a double Junior National Champion from Hawaii. Rutgers had a record-breaking season last year by placing fifth in the EIWA, its highest finish in 40 years. The Scarlet Knights are hoping to build on that performance this year. Rutgers is led by 184-pounder Tom Tanis, the school's first league champion since 1978. Princeton will try to build on the momentum of last season's 12-8 dual-meet season. The Tigers will rely on national qualifiers Juan Venturi (141) and Greg Parker (174) this season. Navy returns one of the nation's top wrestlers in defending league champion Mark Conley, who placed fifth in the NCAA tournament at 141 last year. Brown, eighth in the EIWA last season, welcomes back NCAA qualifier Bronson Lingamfelter at heavyweight. Army, which lost NCAA runner-up Maurice Worthy (174), is hoping to improve on last year's ninth-place finish in the EIWA. Eric Miller (149) is the team's only returning league placewinner. East Stroudsburg is looking to better its 11th-place league finish. Brad Kleckner (141) and Dan Roy (174) both won 20 matches last season. Columbia, 12th in last year's EIWA Championships, is led by sophomore Erik Norgaard at 149. National qualifier Marc Hoffer (149) is the best All-American candidate for American University. Franklin & Marshall placed last in the league, but does return plenty of experience with seven starters back.