Hempstead, NY The Hofstra Wrestling team returns to action this weekend with three matches in Pennsylvania. The Pride will travel to Bethlehem, PA on Friday for a meeting with the 21st-ranked Mountain Hawks of Lehigh (2-1) at 7 p.m. On Sunday, Hofstra will travel to Philadelphia for two matches, facing the Penn Quakers (0-1) at 1 p.m. at the Palestra and CAA-rival, the Drexel Dragons (1-4) at 4 p.m. at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
The Pride will be facing their sixth top 25 opponent of the season when they take to the mat against Lehigh. Hofstra has already faced top-ranked Minnesota and former 25th-ranked Wisconsin, #10 Oklahoma, #11 Central Michigan and #23 Purdue earlier this season.
Hofstra is coming off a 0-4 day at the 10th Annual Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals in Troy, New York last Saturday. The Pride dropped decisions to Bloomsburg (24-10), #10 Oklahoma (36-6), #11 Central Michigan (24-9) and #23 Purdue (32-8). Hofstra is now 0-6 in dual matches this season.
Junior Luke Vaith (Hastings, MN) and senior Paul Snyder (Greensburg, PA) led the Pride with three victories each in four matches at the Northeast Duals. Vaith, ranked 10th at 141 pounds by InterMat, is now 8-3 on the season. Snyder, who had a win by forfeit in Hofstra's finale against Purdue. is 7-3 on the year.
Senior Steve Bonanno (Wantagh, NY), ranked 17th at 125 pounds by InterMat this week, was 2-2 in the Northeast Duals. Bonanno is now 5-4 on the year.
Senior Matt Spataro (Garfield, NJ) and sophomore Jermaine John (Brooklyn, NY) were the only other Pride members to record a victory on the day, each going 1-3. Spataro is now 8-8 at 149 pounds while John is 6-5 at 174 pounds.
The Pride and the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh will be meeting for the 14th time but the first time since a 25-11 victory in Bethlehem on February 8, 2008. Lehigh defeated Binghamton (23-16) and Bloomsburg (18-12) and dropped a 29-6 decision to Penn State. The Mountain Hawks, who are ranked 14th by InterMat and 21st in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I Coaches Poll, have five wrestlers ranked in the latest weekly individual poll by InterMat. Leading Lehigh is senior Robert Hamlin, who is ranked third at 184 pounds with a 1-1 record. Junior Joey Napoli is ranked fourth at 157 with a 3-0 record while red-shirt freshman Eric Hess is ranked 17th at 165 pounds with a 2-1 mark. Senior Shane Welsh (1-2) is 19th at 149 pounds while sophomore Nathaniel Brown (1-2) is 19th at 174 pounds.
Penn, which will face Lehigh Saturday in Bethlehem before hosting the Pride on Sunday, has one dual match under its belt, a 35-10 loss at #3 Oklahoma State. Hofstra is 7-3 against the Quakers in their last 10 meetings including a 23-13 win in Hempstead last January. Penn is led by senior Micah Burak, who is ranked ninth at 197 pounds with a 3-1 record. Classmate Mark Rappo is ranked 20th at 125 pounds with a 4-1 slate.
The Drexel Dragons, who will host VMI on Saturday before hosting the Pride on Sunday, are 1-4 with a win over Cal Poly (28-11) and losses to Cal State Bakersfield (25-18), Cornell (40-0), Columbia (26-9) and Bloomsburg (33-6). The Pride has won the last 14 meetings against the Dragons including a 19-15 victory on Long Island last season. The last time Drexel topped the Pride was in February, 1997, 39-7. The Dragons are led by senior Joe Booth, who is ranked 12th at 165 pounds.