| No. 4 Brian Realbuto (right) earned a pin over No. 6 Ryan Preisch.
Photo: Lehigh Athletics
That swing in bonus points changed the dynamic for both Lehigh and Cornell, as the No. 9 Big Red knocked off No. 7 Lehigh 21-20 in front of 2,001 fans at Lehigh’s Grace Hall on Saturday afternoon.
“We got in that squirrelly position and I was able to hold him there,” said Realbuto (12-1). Those scramble positions are where I make my living … I grabbed his wrist and pulled it tight and knew he couldn’t move. I saw the ref go look and I knew from there it was just inches and I just held it.”
Preisch (16-2) brought the crowd to fever pitch with a stunningly quick takedown to open the match, and escaped in the third to tie it before Realbuto shot in on an ankle pick that turned into the fatal scramble.
“I was just trying to finish out the match and score,” the Lehigh sophomore said. “Just try and score again. There were definitely opportunities earlier in the match where I could have scored more and not let it come to that situation.”
Lehigh coach Pat Santoro was somewhat stoic about the turn of events at 174.
“I think he was fighting to win and he definitely wanted that takedown,” Santoro said. “With short time, it’s one of those things you can stalemate and get back on your feet, but he’s trying to win.”
“Minus that, it would have been crazy coming down to heavyweight,” agreed Cornell coach Rob Koll. “I was a little concerned at that point. I was hoping to win that match. I didn’t count on a pin there. It’s a heck of a rivalry, but it’s pretty friendly. They’ve got a great group of kids. They need to get their 33-pounder back and we need to get our 49-pounder back. Last year they came to Cornell and beat us, so what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
Realbuto’s stunning pin helped bring Cornell (6-2, 3-0 EIWA) come back from a 17-3 deficit at the midway point. Two-time NCAA champion Gabe Dean (184) added his 14th pin of the season to give Cornell the lead for good at 18-17.
“It was awesome for the bench,” Dean said of Realbuto’s pin. “Brian’s a tough kid. He’s a competitor and you can’t ask anything more from him. It’s a great team win to come in here and wrestle Lehigh with all these fans here. It’s a pleasure.”
Cornell sophomore Ben Honis, who pinned Lehigh’s Ben Haas at the Southern Scuffle, earned a hard-fought 2-1 decision at 197 to hand it over to heavyweight Jeramy Sweany, who did his job by not giving up bonus points in a 3-1 loss in sudden victory to No. 18 Doug Vollaro.
The buzz from the partisan crowd hit high levels in the packed Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall even before the match began.
Darian Cruz, ranked No. 8 at 125, opened the action with a takedown on Noah Baughman less than 20 seconds into the afternoon. Cruz secured 1:08 in riding time before letting the Cornell wrestler escape. Cruz missed on a barrel roll but got a takedown and earned a stall warning before rallying with two sets of four nearfall to end the period up 12-1. An escape and takedown and two nearfall locked up the 17-1 technical fall in 4:02 for a 5-0 Lehigh lead.
At 133, Cornell senior Mark Grey, No. 19 at 133, went through a hard first-period battle with Lehigh freshman Joe Lobeck before hitting a relatively easy ankle pick for a takedown with 17 seconds left in the period. Lobeck escaped in the second period, but couldn’t get through Grey’s counters and trailed 2-1 with Grey choosing neutral to start the final period. It paid off on a takedown with less than a minute remaining as Grey earned riding time. Lobeck escaped, then capitalized on a shrug attempt by Grey for a takedown. Lobeck immediately cut Grey loose with 13 seconds left, but couldn’t get in on another shot as Grey earned the 6-4 decision to put Cornell on the board, down 5-3.
Will Koll, the son of Cornell coach Rob Koll, gave No. 11 Randy Cruz a tussle at 141. Koll chose neutral to start the second period, and once again he and Cruz engaged in a battle of blocking techniques until Cruz picked up a stall warning with 17 seconds left in another scoreless period. Cruz chose bottom to start the final period and earned a quick escape. He shot in deep on a single that quickly turned into a funk situation before stalemate was called with 60 seconds left. Cruz again hit a deep single that Koll tuned into a funk. Koll nearly came out on top once, but Cruz scrunched to a stronger position and ended with the 1-0 decision.
Cornell sent out Dylan Realbuto to take on No. 11 Laike Gardner at 149. Gardner hit a takedown off a scramble and earned 2:21 riding time in the opening period, narrowly missing on a pair of tilts. Gardner reversed to start the second period and allowed an escape. Gardner hit a big dump for a takedown and added four nearfall for a 10-1 lead heading into the final period. He added a takedown and four nearfall for the 17-1 technical fall in 6:09 and a 13-3 Lehigh lead.
Lehigh freshman Jordan Kutler looked like a No. 5 in the country, hitting a single leg takedown on Taylor Simaz to open the scoring at 157, and led 2-0 with 1:21 riding time heading into the second period. Kutler reversed to start the second, then let Simaz escape on a restart, scoring another takedown while Simaz was getting warned for stalling. Kutler hit a high crotch for a third-period takedown, but gave up a penalty point trying to work an arm bar. Kutler received a stalling point before hitting a takedown and getting another stalling point in a 13-4 major that gave Lehigh a 17-3 at halftime.
At 165, Lehigh sent out freshman Cole Walter instead of No. 11 Mitch Minotti to take on senior Dylan Palacio, who is ranked No. 4 at 157. Palacio tried to soften the freshman up with numerous foot sweeps in the opening period with no success. Palacio chose defense to start the second period and earned the bout’s first point with an escape. He tried an inside trip and knocked down Walter, who quickly bounded away and squared up. Walter went on defense to start the third and quickly escaped to tie the score with no riding time factor. Palacio got in deep on a single fought off with a whizzer and turned into a funk before Palacio finally came out on top. Walter earned as escape with about 30 seconds left and Palacio got warned for stalling before the pair went into a scoreless scramble to end the match with Palacio getting the 3-2 decision. Cornell trailed 17-6.
Preisch scored the opening takedown on, who escaped trying to bring when Preisch tried to bring him down hard. Realbuto scored on a single. Preisch nearly reversed before escaping after both wrestlers nearly pinned each other on a roll. Cornell coaches asked for a review for nearfall points, but review confirmed no nearfall points. Realbuto started the second period on defense and escaped for a 4-3 lead. The pair hit a scoreless sprawl that went to stalemate. Preisch started the third period on the bottom and escaped before giving up riding time to tie the bout 4-4. Palacio slipped in an ankle pick that turned into a scramble for a neutral position pin in 6:15 that put Cornell in the hunt, down 17-12 and heavily favored in two of the next three.
Dean (20-0) scored five takedowns and four nearfall in the opening period against Andrew Price before picking up the fall at 4:22 to put Cornell on top 18-17.
Lehigh’s Ben Haas, who got pinned by Cornell’s Ben Honis at the Southern Scuffle, missed on a fireman’s carry in a scoreless first period. Honis forced a stall warning on Haas hanging onithe ankle before escaping for the bout’s first point. Honis picked up a stalling point for Haas going out of bounds and led 2-0 late in the first period. Haas escaped to start the final period, faked a move and got a high single that Honis successfully fought off by bouncing back and forth the length of the circle. Haas forced a stall warning with 30 seconds to go, but Honis fought him off for a 2-1 decision and a 21-17 Cornell lead.
In a battle of heavyweights, Lehigh No. 18 Doug Vollaro needed a technical fall or a pin against Jeramy Sweany because a major decision would have resulted in a Cornell win on criteria. In a typical low-scoring heavyweight bout, however,
No. 9 Cornell 21 , No. 7 Lehigh 20
125 – No. 8 Darian Cruz (L) tech fall Noah Bauman 17-1, 4:02; 133 – No. 19 Mark Grey (Cor) dec. Joe Lobeck 6-4; 141 – No. 11 Randy Cruz (L) dec. Will Koll 1-0; 149 – No. 11 Laike Gardner (L) tech fall Dylan Realbuto 17-1, 6:09; 157 – No. 5 Jordan Kutler (L) maj. dec. Taylor Simaz 13-4; 165 – No. 5 (157) Dylan Palacio (Cor) dec. Cole Walter 3-2; 174 – No. 4 Brian Realbuto (Cor) pin No. 6 Ryan Preisch 6:15; 184 – No. 1 Gabe Dean (Cor) pinned Andrew Price 4:22; 197 – Ben Honis (Cor) dec. Ben Haas 2-1; 285 – No. 18 Doug Vollaro (L) dec. Jeramy Sweany 3-1 sv.. Referees: Nathan Chatman, Michael Millward. Attendance: 2,001.