Penn State Wrestling

Looking back on the most memorable wrestling duals between Penn State, Lehigh

Penn State’s Josh Moore, seen here in 2003, had the lone win in the Nittany Lions’ 32-6 loss to Lehigh in 2002. Penn State’s 26-point setback is the largest it has had against the Mountain Hawks.
Penn State’s Josh Moore, seen here in 2003, had the lone win in the Nittany Lions’ 32-6 loss to Lehigh in 2002. Penn State’s 26-point setback is the largest it has had against the Mountain Hawks. Centre Daily Times, file

The first-ever college wrestling dual took place in 1903.

Eight years later, Penn State and Lehigh began their series — a 5-2 win for the Nittany Lions.

Since then, it has been a pretty one-sided affair as Penn State holds a 68-34-3 record and has won seven of the last eight duals. Still, it’s been an intriguing rivalry as both teams have been ranked when they wrestled one another each time over the past nine years.

Sunday’s matchup will be the 106th time the Nittany Lions and Mountain Hawks tangle on the mat, so let’s take a look back the top-5 memorable duals.

No. 5: Jan. 7, 1961 — Lehigh 24, Penn State 8

This dual began a stretch in the series that wasn’t very friendly for the Nittany Lions. Penn State not only lost this dual but went on to lose the next five — the worst span in the series for the blue and white. Still, Denny Slattery got the dual off to a hot start for Penn State with a 10-2 major-decision victory, but it went down hill from there. The Engineers won six of the next seven bouts — and two were by pin. Dan Johnston had a 6-6 tie to break up the stretch of losses for the Nittany Lions at 137 pounds. The dual finished up with John Oberly picking up a 2-0 win for Penn State in the unlimited weight class.

No. 4: Jan. 23, 1982 — Penn State 26, Lehigh 12

This was the first win in the series for the Nittany Lions since 1977. It also began a stretch of 12 straight Penn State victories in the series. Bill Marino grabbed a 9-8 win at 134 pounds, as Penn State took four straight bouts. Eric Childs finished off the string of victories with a 16-6 major decision over the Engineers’ Tom Bold. Following another Lehigh victory, Penn State’s John Hanrahan cruised past Kevin Mulligan 17-4. The dual was finished off with a 17-0 rout by the Nittany Lions’ Steve Sefter over Pat Brown.

No. 3: Feb. 13, 1993 — Penn State 39, Lehigh 0

This dual highlighted a stacked Nittany Lions’ lineup with the likes of Sanshiro Abe, Cary Kolat and Kerry McCoy. They finished the year unbeaten with a 22-0-1 record. (The tie was against Iowa.) This was the first shutout in the series and also the largest margin of victory. Penn State earned four bonus-point victories — two pins, a major decision and a technical fall. Shawn Nelson (118 pounds) and Matt White (177) had the falls. Josh Robbins had the 12-3 major decision at 158 pounds, and Greg Troxell ended the dual with the 20-5 tech fall at 275 pounds. As for Abe, Kolat and McCoy, they all had decision wins with Kolat’s being the closest at 10-9. Earlier in the day, Penn State had also beaten Lock Haven 31-6.

No. 2: Jan. 6, 2002 — Lehigh 32, Penn State 6

Penn State never stood a chance; it was the worst loss by the Nittany Lions in the series. The Mountain Hawks, who had five ranked wrestlers in the lineup, won nine of the 10 bouts. No. 12 Rob Rohn opened the dual with a 6-5 upset of No. 9 Mark Becks for Penn State, which only added fuel to the sold-out crowd of 2,680 fans. Lehigh’s No. 2 Jon Trenge pinned Pete Mielnik in 2:30 and the rout was on. Lehigh’s Shawn Laughlin used a third-period takedown to edge Pat Cummins at heavyweight. The lone win for the Nittany Lions came from No. 11 Josh Moore with a pin in 2:13 at 133 pounds. It was short-lived celebration as Tristan Boyd pulled off another upset for Lehigh — over No. 17 Scott Moore (12-8). The Mountain Hawks went on cruise control. The Nittany Lions fell to 1-4 in a season that ended with a 6-12 record.

No. 1: Feb. 15, 1975 — Penn State 16, Lehigh 16

This became the last tie to occur in the series. It also was a big draw for the Nittany Lions as the Mountain Hawks entered the dual 14-2-1. There were two draws in bouts. Penn State’s Wayne Packer had a 6-6 tie with Lance Leonhardt at 118 pounds, while teammate Dennis Sciabica used a tough figure-four ride to tie Mike Frick 4-4 at 142 pounds. Jerry Villecco had one of the four wins for the Nittany Lions in the dual after overcoming a four-point deficit to top Mark Lieberman 6-5 at 167 pounds. John Fritz (126 pounds), Dave Becker (158) and Jerry White (190) were other victors for Penn State. The Nittany Lions finished the year 7-4-1.

Nate Cobler: 814-231-4609, @ncoblercdt

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