SHARE THIS STORY
PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY BY
ake a look at the national Top 20 in college wrestling, and you'll see many of the names you'd probably expect to see when it comes to big-time college athletics.
You'll see Penn State and Ohio State, Iowa and Oklahoma State, Michigan and Nebraska. You'll see blockbuster programs backed by multi-million dollar athletic departments. You’ll see some of the most lucrative brands in all of college sports.
And standing right alongside the rest of them, you’ll see the Lehigh Mountain Hawks.
Since the inception of the program all the way back in 1910, the wrestlers of Lehigh have stood toe-to-toe with some of the most powerful athletic departments in the nation. In all, Lehigh wrestlers have won 28 individual national championships and 214 individual league championships, and have earned All-America honors a total of 147 times. With decades of success and a proud legacy dating back more than 100 years, Lehigh enjoys a much-deserved reputation as one of the finest programs in the history of the sport.
In 2018, that reputation is shining as bright as ever before.
In early March, the Mountain Hawks traveled to Hofstra University to compete in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships, where they butted heads with their longtime wrestling rivals from Cornell. The Big Red had won 11 straight league crowns entering this year’s tournament, and had their sights set on a 12th. But this year’s Mountain Hawks would have none of it.
After two intense days of grappling, Lehigh saw its wrestlers claim five individual league titles en route to a resounding 164.5-146 team win over Cornell. It marked the first time since 2006 that the Mountain Hawks claimed the crown, and gave the program its 35th EIWA team title.
It was great achievement for a great program. But for this special group of Mountain Hawks, the work isn’t over. Indeed, the biggest and brightest stage on college wrestling still awaits.
“That was a great win [at EIWA’s], but we have to look forward,” Lehigh coach Pat Santoro says. “We want to be celebrating in two weeks with guys that are national champions and All-Americans. That’s the goal for us.”
That goal awaits them in Cleveland, Ohio. That’s where, from March 15-17, the most elite wrestlers in the nation will gather to compete in the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships—and when the wrestling begins on Thursday morning, Lehigh will have ten wrestlers competing. Only one other program—Ohio State—can say the same, and the achievement marks the first time since 1967 that Lehigh will send a full ten-man contingent to the nation’s top tournament.
By all accounts, the Mountain Hawks have a real opportunity to write a special ending to a storybook season--and add another chapter to the program’s great history.
To follow along with the Mountain Hawks as they prepare for Cleveland, and learn more about the program, visit the official home of Lehigh Wrestling. You can also follow the program on Facebook and Twitter.
Lehigh had ten wrestlers out of ten weight classes earn bids for the NCAA Championships this year. The championships will be hosted in Cleveland, Ohio, and will run from March 15-17. Senior Darian Cruz will be looking to win his second straight national title at 125 pounds.