ATHENS, Ohio — Behind two individual championships and a pair of finalists, Lock Haven University’s men’s wrestling team captured the program’s first Mid-American Conference tag team championship with 123.5 team points.
Tabbed in the preseason to finish 11th out of 13 teams, the Bald Eagles silenced doubters on their way to a dominating tag team title victory with 15.5 points to the nearest competition.
Anthony Noto and Ben Barton won the individual championships, while the Bald Eagles added three more automatic qualifiers to their roster that will qualify for the NCAA championships in two weeks.
Shortly after taking over the program, men’s wrestling head coach Scott Moore used the term “The climb” to outline his plans for the Bald Eagles program. The Bald Eagles wrote another chapter in that story by going from worst to first in the MAC and becoming the first new MAC tag team champion in over twenty years.
By winning the tag team title, Lock Haven became the first team to win a MAC wrestling title outside of Missouri or Central Michigan since Ohio won the title in 2001. The Bald Eagles have also won championships individuals at 125 and 157 pounds en route to the program’s second conference championship in four years.
Noto picked up his 27th straight victory with a sudden and thrilling 3-1 win over Clarion’s Joey Fischer in the 125-pound final.
After an early sensational period, Noto looked for a takedown in the final seconds of the first period, but the challenge was not in Noto’s favor as the fight went scoreless after a period of action. Fischer picked low to start the second period and got a quick breakout as Noto trailed 1-0 as the game headed into the final period.
Noto quickly returned the favor early in the third and drew the fight to a 1-1 stalemate with his own breakout with 1:25 remaining. The two wrestlers battled to the center of the mat for the rest of the settlement as the fight headed to an abrupt victory.
In the sudden victory period, the fight stayed center mat until Noto jumped in for a deep leg and wrapped around Fischer’s hips. Noto then used a lift and a mat return to score the out with 50 ticks remaining in the first extra session to claim his first MAC Championship and book his trip to the NCAA Championships in Detroit.
In the 157-pound final, Barton made it two-for-two for the Bald Eagles in the final with a hard-fought 2-1 win over top seed Johnny Lovett of Central Michigan.
After a scoreless first period, Barton deferred his pick to third and surrendered a quick second-period escape, but tied the game with a penalty point on a stalling call on Lovett as the fight moved into the third period in a stalemate 1-1. .
Barton picked down to start the third period and scored a quick breakout to take a 2-1 advantage with 1:47 to go. For the rest of the fight, the action stayed center mat as Barton upset the Chippewas’ top-seeded Lovett to earn his third trip to the NCAA Championships.
Ashton Eyler fell behind early in the title fight at 165 pounds, but used a breakout to bring the fight back to a 2-1 margin after three minutes of action.