Syracuse, the team that had the least distance to travel -- other than host Cornell -- took command of the team race with 39.25 points and seven semifinalists, Navy was next with 36.5 and six in the semis and Army and Brown each had five semifinalists and 32.5 and 30.5 points, respectively.
Lehigh and East Stroudsburg both came into the tournament hoping to have a say in the team race -- Lehigh hoping to have its best finish in five years and the Cavaliers their best finish ever.
But the two teams were
only able to get two men each into the semifinals -- Brian
Cipollone and Rick Hepp for Lehigh
and Dave DiSora and Steve Elicker for ESU. Lehigh was in seventh place after the quarterfinals with 16.75 points and ESU was a half point behind in eighth place.
Ed Moore of Franklin & Marshall and Phillipsburg High was the only one of four other wrestlers who did their high school wrestling in the Lehigh Valley -- all of whom were seeded -- to make it to the semis.
That comes to a total of only five of 24 wrestlers with local connections who beat both the blizzard and yesterday's opponents.
"You have to set your goals high if you're going to go forward with your program," ESU coach Dom DiGioacchino said, while noting he wasn't totally discouraged with his team's performance. "I didn't put pressure on the kids, though. I told them to just go out and go as far as they could."
DiGioacchino said he figured he'd need perhaps four semifinalists if his team was going to better than a fifth place finish, the best an East Stroudsburg has ever done in this tournament.
And even though he had several wrestlers left in consolations late last night -- as did Lehigh -- it didn't look as if either team was going to be near the top of the well-balanced team race.
"I figured if we got three or four wrestlers to nationals (the NCAA Tournament), it would be a successful tournament for us no matter what happened," Lehigh coach Tom Hutchinson said.
But he admitted the day was kind of a microcosm of his season -- one in which he has had more than half his expected starters sidelined by injuries. A case in point: His 142 pounder Chris O'Byrne spent all week on crutches with a sprained ankle, but somewhat miraculously healed in time for the tournament. But in his preliminary round win over Princeton's Brian Duckworth, he apparently caught a finger in the eye, tore his eyelid and underwent plastic surgery to repair a torn tear duct last night after forfeiting his quarterfinal bout.