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EIWA Newsletter - 2/27/24

EIWA Newsletter - 2/27/24

By Austin Sommer, EIWA Sports Information Director

Lehigh Crowned Unofficial EIWA Regular Season Champs

By Austin Sommer, EIWA Sports Information Director

The regular season has come to an end. As we head into the conference championships on March 8th and 9th at Bucknell, let’s recap the season to see how the top teams panned out.

No. 14 Lehigh finished the season undefeated against EIWA competition. The highlight win came against top-10-ranked Cornell at home in dramatic fashion in a 17-16 barn burner of a dual. Lehigh’s schedule was very competitive with losses to #24 Pittsburgh, #1 Penn State, and #2 Oklahoma State in the first semester. The final dual of the season was a loss to an up and down #17 Arizona State team.

Other EIWA wins include Binghamton, Penn, Navy, Army, Bucknell, and Princeton. To start the second semester, they won 7 straight until the loss to Arizona State. Some individual highlights include freshman Ryan Crookham’s undefeated 15-0 record. He remains the only undefeated wrestler in the conference as he is the top-ranked 133lbs wrestler in the nation. Michael Beard is currently #3 in the nation at 197lbs and is in the top-3 for technical falls across the country regardless of weight. This team will push Cornell to be at the top of the team race at EIWAs.

No. 8 Cornell was 12-4 during the season. With one of the toughest schedules in the country, they had losses to #5 Iowa State, #6 Ohio State, #7 NC State, and #14 Lehigh. Some marquee wins included victories over #9 Missouri, #12 Virginia Tech, #18 Penn, #24 Pitt, and #28 Appalachian State. They did this without Vito Arujau for much of the season, making the schedule much more difficult. The Big Red claimed another Ivy League title this year. They are battle tested, and ready to peak come EIWAs. They will look to three-peat as EIWA champions.

Army West Point entered the team rankings for the first time this week, sitting at #25. After a 7-4 season in dual meets, along with a 5-1 record against the EIWA, this team ended the second half with a 6-1 record. They have one EIWA loss to Lehigh, and almost won that one at home. A week ago, they won against their archrival in Navy by an 18-17 nail biter coming down to the last second. They are no strangers to tough competition either. They have losses to Campbell, Purdue and #7 NC State in the first month of the season. Army has steadily improved since November and are expected to have a handful of NCAA qualifiers.

No. 18 Penn suffered two EIWA losses to Lehigh and Cornell. These were their lone losses in the conference. The three out of conference losses came to #3 Iowa, #15 Rutgers, and #21 Stanford. They had a dominant win over #29 North Carolina, plus easily handled the rest of the Ivy League. This team has a few seniors, but they will reload with young talent next season. Be on the lookout at EIWAs for The Quakers to be in the mix and shake things up in the top-3 of the team race.

Binghamton’s three EIWA losses were very respectable. They included Lehigh, Army, and Cornell. #7 NC State was the Bearcats’ lone out of conference loss. They had a signature win over Northwestern – which was the first over a BigTen team since 2017. Currently, they have five nationally ranked wrestlers in the starting line-up. Former All-American, Lou DePrez, returned to the line-up in the second semester after receiving a medical hardship for a season ending injury last year. He seems to be a large part of this team’s second half surge. The Bearcats are another team that will look to be in the top 5 at EIWAs.

Navy was ranked as high as 15th in the nation after a hot start to the season. They began with wins over Illinois and #24 Pitt en route to a 6-0 start to end the first semester. Come second semester, they cooled off and began with a five match losing streak in January. They’ve been battling injuries the second half of the year, making their tough schedule much more arduous. With losses to #27 Oklahoma, #13 South Dakota State, #14 Lehigh, #29 North Carolina, #25 Army, and Binghamton – one can see the competition level both inside and outside the conference was top notch for Navy. If the team is healthy and focused, they will be battling it out for a top-5 finish at EIWAs on again.

There were other teams with signature wins over the course of the season. Columbia’s road win over #16 Northern Iowa really gave them a quality victory. They followed that up with a one-point loss to #23 West Virginia the following match. It’s been discussed at nauseum regarding the incredible strength of schedule The Lions had this season, which makes their 5-8 record seem worse than it is. They were 4-3 in the conference.
Harvard had an upset win over #29 North Carolina on the road. The major individual upset to help The Crimson occurred at 184lbs where Leo Tarantino was the winner over returning All-American, Gavin Kane. He was the sixth and final win for the team in the dual.

It was a big year for smaller schools in the EIWA. Franklin & Marshall has had three wrestlers in the national rankings for the first time in a long time – potentially maybe for the first time this century. They were 6-3 on the year, and 2-2 in the conference. They placed 12th at the Midlands with only five participants. Wrestling fans around the country are taking notice of this school’s progression. What makes their success more impressive is that they have zero scholarships due to the remainder of the athletic department classified as a Division 3 school. The biggest win on the year came in mid-February when they went on the road and knocked off Drexel. They are legitimately the David in a conference of many Goliaths.

Long Island University (LIU) has had a heck of a year as well. Last season, they were 3-10 on the season and 1-5 in the conference. This season, they were 8-8 on the year and 3-4 in the conference. This incredible turnaround should get special recognition. They had a big win over Buffalo early in the season. Buffalo has solid wins over Ohio, Clarion, and Lock Haven. LIU beat Sacred Heart twice this season, widening the gap the second time around by a significant margin. Since joining the conference in 2019, they have made steady improvement. This year’s team has made exponential growth. It will be exciting to see them improve in the coming years.

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