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ake a look at the national Top 20 in college wrestling most years, 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 150 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 shined 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.
A couple of weeks later, the team traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, to take part in the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships--with all ten of its wrestlers qualifying for the tournament. Only one other program--Ohio State—could say the same, and the achievement marked the first time since 1967 that Lehigh sent a full ten-man contingent to the nation’s top tournament.
By the time the tournament ended, Lehigh saw three wrestlers earn All-America honors--senior Darian Cruz, junior Scott Parker and sophomore Jordan Kutler. The team finished in 15th place overall, and now looks ahead to potentially even greater things next season; nine of ten of its national qualifiers return for the 2018-2019, which means the future looks bright for a program that also boasts a proud past.
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.