Dec. 4, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — When Lehigh squares off against the University of Iowa on Thursday in a nonconference wrestling dual inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, top 8-ranked competitors will meet in the 157 and 184-pound weight classes.
At 157, Iowa’s top-ranked Derek St. John (6-0) will take on Mountain Hawk junior Joey Napoli, who is 5-0 and ranked fourth. At 184, third-ranked Robert Hamlin of Lehigh (3-1) will go against No. 8 Ethen Lofthouse (6-0).
“It’s another steppingstone to getting to the top of the podium, where you want to be,” St. John said.
One of Napoli’s victories this season is 4-2 against No. 3 Dylan Alton of Penn State.
“I’m sure (Napoli) looks at this as an opportunity and we have to be ready,” UI head coach Tom Brands said. “That’s what competitors do. They see the No. 1 guy in America and you’re going to come after him.”
Lofthouse secured a win against Hamlin in freestyle in the spring, now he looks to pull an upset in folkstyle. Hamlin’s only loss to date is 11-9 against Ed Ruth of Penn State.
“I’m looking forward to it. I knew there were a lot of good guys in this weight class and Hamlin is one of them. He wrestles hard and I have to go out and execute my holds and move my feet.”
UI 184-pound wrestler
“I’m looking forward to it. I knew there were a lot of good guys in this weight class and Hamlin is one of them,” Lofthouse said. “He wrestles hard and I have to go out and execute my holds and move my feet.”
Hamlin placed fourth at the 2012 NCAA Championships at 184, and he owns an 84-19 career record. Twelve of those losses came during his redshirt freshman season.
“(Ethen) has a big test coming in with Hamlin,” Brands said. “We wrestled him in freestyle, now we have to wrestle him on the mat, too. We know what we can do with him on his feet; now we have to be able to wrestle on the bottom and on the top against him in a seven-minute match.”
Lehigh, one of the traditional powers in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association, is located in Bethlehem, Pa. The relationship between Brands and Mountain Hawk head coach Pat Santoro is a big reason the teams will compete in a home-home series the next two years.
“Pat Santoro is one of the coaches in Division I wrestling that I respect the most,” Brands said. “We’re glad they’re coming. They have guys that wrestle a unique style, a style we’re going to see — crab rides, claw, spiral riding. We have to be ready for that.”
Iowa (6-0) is ranked fifth in the latest NWCA/USA Today Division I Coaches Poll, Lehigh (3-2) is 23rd. The meet will begin at 4 p.m. (CT) .
The Hawkeyes have won all 23 meetings in the series, and a 24th consecutive win against Lehigh will be No. 200 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The teams competed in 2002, with Iowa winning, 25-13.