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Tigers take down NL

Story first appeared in The Northwestern Press on Jan. 27, 2016.

It has been a long-time coming for the Northwestern Lehigh wrestling program to climb back to the top of the Colonial League. The Tigers battled low numbers, injuries, illnesses and other obstacles over the years, but finally, the 2015-16 season could be their time.

The grapplers capped off their regular season in emphatic fashion with a big 42-24 victory against Northern Lehigh to finish 15-4 overall and 7-1 in the Colonial League. The win also clinches the division title and the second seed at the Colonial League Duals at Catasauqua High School. (The duals were after deadline for this issue, check next week’s issue of The Press for coverage.)

“We are going to see them again next week at league duals, so I told my guys it is important to not just win the match, but to make a statement,” Northwestern head coach Jim Moll said after last week’s win over Northern Lehigh. “[We wanted] to set the tone for how we wrestle them so that they remember how we wrestle them come next week.”

If a first impression was part of the tone Moll wanted his Tigers to set, they provided a strong one as the match started at 195 pounds with a pin in just 40 seconds from Andrew Sorenson.

“It was big,” Moll said of that opening match. “Andrew came out, did his job, set the tone, and got the ball rolling for us.”

It continued for the rest of the night as Northern Lehigh never led in the Mountain Road Rivalry match at Northwestern Lehigh High School last Wednesday.

Down 9-0 thanks to a 5-1 decision in favor of Northwestern’s Jacob Murray at 220 pounds, the Bulldogs earned their first points of the night courtesy of senior multi-sport athlete Cameron Kates. He picked up points in the first two periods before earning the win by fall with just 11.4 seconds left in the bout.

The pin made it 9-6 in favor of the Tigers, but that was the closest the score got as it was Northwestern’s night to shine.

Following a forfeit for Northern Lehigh at 106 pounds, Matt Peters put the Tigers in the lead 18-6 with a 3-1 decision at 113 pounds. The victory improved Peters’ season record to 13-1.

At 126 pounds, Quentin Bernhard earned his 99th career win against Northern Lehigh’s Ezra Neff, putting the senior just one victory away from being the 10th member of Northwestern Lehigh wrestling’s 100 win club.

Northwestern won three of the next four bouts, all three by fall, including at 152 pounds, where Caleb Clymer moved to 7-0 this season as his pin clinched the match win for the Tigers.

“We know what we are capable of if they go out and wrestle well,” Moll said. “They have been wrestling really well over these last few weeks. So I told them to just keep doing what they have been doing and we will be fine.”

The Tigers battled at the league duals as the second seed and Northern Lehigh qualified as a wildcard, taking the third seed in the tournament. Saucon Valley, who finished its league schedule with an unblemished record, was the top seed for the league duals.

Northwestern did not face Saucon Valley this season and lost to No. 4 seed Pen Argyl, 39-24, back on Dec. 23.

The Colonial League duals wrap up the league season, but Northwestern’s campaign continues at the district duals, which begin on Feb. 4.

However, Moll wasn’t looking that far ahead after Friday’s win. He was focused on beating Northern Lehigh, again, a match he aptly said was going to be, “a dog fight.”

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