BETHLEHEM – Revenge was sweet for Army standout Matt Kyler of Clearfield in the 106th Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association finals Sunday afternoon at Lehigh’s Stabler Arena.
The senior 149-pounder, who was seeded third, atoned for one of his three losses this season by taking down Bucknell’s No. 1 seed Kevin LeValley twice for a 5-3 win that made him a two-time EIWA champion.
Head coach Chuck Barbee praised the Black Knight co-captain’s effort that also meant a fourth consecutive season of at least 30 wins and a fourth trip to the NCAA Division I Championships.
“Matt wrestled in a brutal weight class,” Barbee was quoted on the Army wrestling website, “He prepared his whole career for this and came out and executed. He worked very had for this, and I was very proud of the way he wrestled.”
Kyler, ranked No. 9 nationally by Amateur Wrestling News and No. 10 by InterMat and Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine, beat Cornell’s No. 6 seed Hicks Manson 5-3 and Penn’s No. 7 seed Cesar Grajales 9-4 to earn his rematch with LeValley.
The Bucknell junior, ranked seventh by InterMat, beat Kyler 8-6 in overtime back on Nov. 24 when he was ranked No. 13 and the Black Knight was No. 7.
This time, Kyler (30-3) got the upper hand with a takedown with one minute gone and never trailed.
LeValley (37-6) escaped and then tied the bout with another breakaway in the second period before Kyler answered with his second takedown for the winning move.
Another LeValley escaped made it 4-3 going to the third period, when Kyler chose down and escaped with 16 seconds left to claim Army’s 30th EIWA individual title.
A two-time runner-up, Kyler finishes 11-2 in EIWA tourneys.
Also, he prevented LeValley from becoming Bucknell’s first EIWA champion.
That honor went to senior Andy Rendos (28-4) of Brockway later in the finals.
The four-time NCAA qualifier was seeded No. 1 and outscored four opponents 33-4, capping his historic performance with a convincing 9-2 decision over Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchett.
Army senior 197-pounder Richard Starks also qualified for the nationals March 18-20 at Omaha, Neb., by placing third.
The Black Knights had six placewinners to finish tied 65 points, tying Columbia for eighth place in the 13-team tourney.
Cornell (160.5) won the team title for the fourth year in a row. Penn (113) was second with Lehigh (109.5) third and Bucknell (103.5) fourth without a 125-pounder.