Valley Sports Report
PRINCETON, N.J. — Athens grad A.J. Burkhart, a sophomore on the Lehigh University wrestling team, earned his first collegiate wins here Sunday at the Princeton Open, finishing the day with a 2-2 record.
Burkhart, who finished fifth at the PIAA Championships in 2018 at 126 pounds, opened the day against the top seed in the 157-pound weight class, fifth-year senior Jesse Dellavecchia of Rider, and dropped an 8-2 decision.
Dellavecchia, who finished in the top 16 at the NCAA Championships last year at 165 pounds, scored a takedown in the first period, and two more in the second period to build a 6-1 lead. He scored a fourth takedown in the third period to take an 8-1 lead.
After receiving his first collegiate win via a medical forfeit from Army’s Beau Guffey, Burkhart earned his first win on the mat with an 11-5 decision over Navy’s Jack Stanton-Taddeo.
Burkhart scored an early takedown, but Stanton-Taddeo countered with an escape and a takedown to take a 3-2 lead.
Just 11 seconds later, Burkhart recorded an escape to tie the score, then notched a takedown and rode the final 63 seconds of the period to take a 5-3 lead into the second period.
Burkhart escaped off the second-period whistle and then registered another takedown to stretch the lead to 8-3.
Stanton-Taddeo trimmed his deficit to 8-5 with a takedown with 37 seconds left in the bout, but Burkhart escaped with 18 seconds remaining. Stanton-Taddeo was banged for stalling just three second later to make it 10-5. Burkhart was awarded a point for riding time to provide the final score.
Stanton-Taddeo advanced to the match with Burkhart by beating former Newark Valley standout Benny Baker, 9-4.
Burkhart’s day came to an end one win shy of a top-8 finish with a 9-5 loss to Columbia’s Riley Jacops.
Jacops scored a takedown midway through the first period, and led 2-1 entering the second period. Jacops registered a reversal early in the second period, but was penalized for stalling to reduce his lead to 4-2.
Burkhart scored an escape with 54 seconds left in the second period, but Jacops worked a takedown with 13 seconds remaining to extend his lead to 6-3.
Jacops sealed the win with a third-period takedown, and also earned a riding-time point.
On Oct. 24, Burkhart wrestled off against Josh Humphreys for Lehigh’s starting 157-pound spot. Humphreys won a 9-0 major decision.
Humphreys, a four-time West Virginia state champ, became the first Lehigh true freshman to win an EIWA title since 1980 last year, and reached the All-American round-of-12 at the NCAA Championships.
Lehigh returns to action Sunday at the Journeymen Collegiate Classic in Troy, N.Y.
IN PHOTO: A.J. Burkhart.
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