Lehigh Senior’s 285-pounder Jordan Wood (above) is the Mountain Hawks’ most seasoned wrestler to compete in the NCAA tournament this weekend. Sam Janicki | EIWA
The 285-pound senior Lehigh senior in his fifth year will be competing in his third NCAA Division I championship (he’s a four-time qualifier that counts in 2020) when the tournament is held on Thursday morning (11 a.m. ET) at the Enterprise Center begins in St. Louis.
This experience makes Wood a rare figure among Lehigh’s 10 qualifiers. Senior Jake Jakobsen (197) was with two nationals. None of the other Mountain Hawks made the trip, even though 149-pounder JImmy Hoffman was a 2020 qualifier before COVID-19 wiped out the tournament.
In other words, Wood, a two-time All-American, has more NCAA -Experience as the entire Lehigh team going to St. Louis.
“The biggest thing I can tell people is wrestling with who is in front of you,” said Wood, who is number 8 at 285 is (Lehigh’s highest seed among the 10 qualifiers) and will compete against Nathan Traxler of Stanford with the number 25 in his first round fight. “Someone is going to find out what will happen when you dig deeper and who to wrestle with. not for me. I’m wrestling (Traxler), first lap, that’s it. “
Wood, having learned in March last year that the wrestlers had torn away from the wrestlers just a week earlier, is just delighted with the competition.
” I didn’t believe that NCAAs would happen there for a while, “he said.” Once we got the team together, good things happened and it was a rewarding experience. All the while I was focused on what I was doing and what I could control. “
Wood was originally not supposed to be here at all as he had opted for an Olympic red shirt that focused on freestyle, but once it became clear that the pandemic would wipe out international competition, Wood returned to Lehigh.
“I wrestled with some of the best in the world in freestyle and took a few lumps,” he said. “But it became clear that I might have one more opportunity to wrestle for Lehigh. I’ve used it and am doing what I love again.
The Mountain Hawks love to have it back. Wood plays a key role in such a young team.
“His leadership,” said Jakobsen when asked what Wood meant to Lehigh. “He’s been my roommate for five years and I definitely see another side of him now. He sets a good example – he’s such a great person. Nobody ever has a mean word to say about Jordan. He’s like a big teddy bear. He’s like a big teddy bear.” (as a person) even though he’s so physically on the mat. He’ll talk to everyone about how they can improve. Jordan has been my best friend for five years. “
Wood made a noticeable difference in Lehigh’s run fourth EIWA championship in a row and got the ‘perfect 10’, with the entire team making it to St. Louis.
“It’s very special when we all go ten,” said Wood. “We have it managed to hold out all 10 at EIWAs – that’s really hard to do in wrestling – and we celebrated our fourth straight title on the team. “We had people who either matched their seeds or outdid them, which meant they got the right ones Did things. Now it goes back to business. We are all working towards the same goal now. “
Lehigh’s head coach Pat Santoro said Wood could show his less experienced teammates how to do the work to achieve those goals.
” Jordan is fun to watch, “said Santoro. “He’s going to fight every seven minutes. His lead comes from the way other wrestlers feed on him. Jordan takes the time, he’s a wrestler 24/7/365. That rubs off on his teammates.” Lehigh fans can hope that some of Wood’s remarkable NCAA experience rubs off on the Mountain Hawk fledglings – and turns them into tested veterans in time to apply for NCAA hardware.
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