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Cornell is looking to continue its 11-year stranglehold over the team title at the EIWA Championships this weekend in Hempstead, New York, but its quest for another conference crown will not go unchallenged.
As the EIWA's lone national champion in 2017, Lehigh's Darian Cruz is in the hunt to not only win another individual conference title but also do his part to break the Big Red's streak.
Cruz and teammate Jordan Kutler are pre-seeded No. 1 at the 125- and 174-pound weight classes, respectively, headlining a stout Mountain Hawks lineup. Meanwhile, this year's Cornell team is led by a pair of rising freshman stars and top EIWA pre-seeds in Yianni Diakomihalis at 141 pounds and Ben Darmstadt at 197.
Drexel freshman Austin DeSanto has also lit up the scene this year and is the favorite to win the 133-pound conference title. At 149, Jared Prince, the returning EIWA runner-up and NCAA qualifier, will get the nod for Navy and look to keep the conference bid.
Date: March 3-4 | Time: 10 AM CT | Where: Hempstead, NY
Broadcast Info: WATCH LIVE HERE
125 Pounds (1 AQ)
Commentary: As the returning NCAA champion, Darian Cruz is naturally the man to beat here. Zach Fuentes is the only guy in the field that Cruz hasn’t recorded a bonus-point win over this season — Cruz won 3-2 when they met earlier in the year. It’s going to be tough to stop Cruz as he eyes his third straight conference title.
|2||Trey Chalifoux||Army West Point|
133 Pounds (3 AQs)
Commentary: This will be a very competitive weight to watch, with Austin DeSanto, Scott Parker, and Josh Terao among the top contenders. DeSanto and Terao had a thrilling 12-10 overtime match earlier this year, so expect more fireworks should they meet again. Parker had been out for part of the year with an injury but is looking strong in his return. During the time he was sidelined, he missed duals against Drexel and Cornell. Judging by the stare DeSanto shot Parker’s way after collecting a high-paced first-period technical fall over Parker’s replacement, it’s safe to say that there could be some tension should they meet.
|5||Lane Peters||Army West Point|
141 Pounds (4 AQs)
Commentary: All eyes will be on true freshman two-time Cadet world champ Yianni Diakomihalis here. Yianni D has bonused every single guy in the conference and will be very hard to slow down. Luke Karam and AJ Jaffe are the only guys in the bracket to go the distance with him, but even those ended with the scoreboard looking lopsided with a major decision for Diakomihalis.
|8||Austin Harry||Army West Point|
|10||Brett Kulp||Franklin & Marshall|
149 Pounds (4 AQs)
Commentary: Last year’s final could end up being a semifinal, as Kolodzik and Prince are on the same side of the bracket this year. It wasn’t until recently that Prince was named as the entry for Navy at this year’s tournament. Thankfully, no matter whom the Midshipmen go with, Prince or Corey Wilding, the allocation bid stays with the conference here. A contender to make the final is Cortlandt Schuyler, who owns a win over Prince this season.
157 Pounds (6 AQs)
Commentary: Mike D’Angelo is the top dog at 157, but Fredy Stroker is right on his heels. Stroker had a late start to the season, so it will be interesting to see if he’s made the adjustments and gotten to peak form for this time of the year. He and D’Angelo wrestled to a 4-0 final during the dual. Though D’Angelo has proved to be above the pack, it’s really anyone’s game when it comes to the opposite side of the bracket. We’ve seen Joe Velliquette in top form at the Keystone Classic, where he was the runner-up to Jason Nolf.
|8||Lucas Weiland||Army West Point|
|10||Paul Klee||Sacred Heart|
165 Pounds (6 AQs)
Commentary: So Jon Jay Chavez, the top seed, has a win over May Bethea; however, he and Jonathan Schleifer have never met. On the other side, Bethea and Schleifer have split matches this year. The match to watch here is a potential rematch between Schleifer and Bethea in the semis.
|1||Jon Jay Chavez||Cornell|
|7||Andrew Mendel||Army West Point|
174 Pounds (5 AQs)
Commentary: Missed opportunities could be the theme at 174. Last year, Kutler missed weight and wasn’t able to compete in the tournament. Now this year, he comes in as the top seed again, looking to accomplish what escaped him last season. The other missed opportunity was in the dual between Lehigh and Navy. Kutler and the second-seeded Jadaen Bernstein, a returning NCAA qualifier, did not meet.
|3||Ben Harvey||Army West Point|
|11||Josh Young||Franklin & Marshall|
184 Pounds (7 AQs)
Commentary: Cornell and Lehigh will be the focal points here, as Ryan Preisch and Max Dean are the front-runners. Preisch, who missed the dual against the Big Red due to injury, is champing at the bit to help power the Mountain Hawks to a win. Dean has been lighting things up this year and is looking to keep his family's grip on the conference title.
|9||Noah Stewart||Army West Point|
197 Pounds (6 AQs)
Commentary: Cornell’s other dominant freshman, Ben Darmstadt, has ascended to not only the top of the conference but also the nation by running his own pin parade. His lone loss of the season, which he avenged, came against Frank Mattiace, last year’s EIWA champ at 197. Mattiace will look to get back to the top, but he will also need to get by Patrick Brucki, whom he lost to earlier this season. Darmstadt will be a major player when it comes to Cornell’s team title hopes, as he will have to keep up with his bonus-point trend.
|7||Rocco Caywood||Army West Point|
285 Pounds (5 AQs)
Commentary: Despite being in the same place twice this year, top two seeds Mike Hughes and Jordan Wood have yet to meet. Hughes is a giant terror, but Wood has battled with the best of ‘em this season.
|6||Antonio Pelusi||Franklin & Marshall|
|11||Robert Heald||Army West Point|