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Juniors Steve Santos and Jake O'Hara and senior captain Kevin Lester punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships on Sunday.
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Stephen K. Lee

Santos, O'Hara, Lester Earn NCAA Auto-Bids At EIWA Championships

Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
          Release: 03/04/2012
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PRINCETON, N.J. -- Juniors Steve Santos and Jake O'Hara and senior captain Kevin Lester punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships on Sunday by earning NCAA auto-bids at the EIWA Championships in Jadwin Gymnasium. With 76.5 team points, Columbia finished in sixth place.

Cornell won the team title with a score of 151.5 -- just enough to edge Lehigh (149).

The Lions placed at seven weight classes, including:
133: Kyle Gilchrist, 6th Place
141: Matt Bystol, 7th Place
149: Steve Santos, 4th Place
157: Jake O'Hara, 5th Place
165: Eren Civan, 8th Place
174: Stephen West, 5th Place
285: Kevin Lester, 3rd Place

"Steve, Jake and Kevin wrestled a great tournament and they are guys that should be in the NCAA Tournament," Andrew F. Barth Head Coach of Wrestling Carl Fronhofer said. "They got it done this weekend so they don't have to wait around for the qualifying process. I'm proud of them and I'm proud of the whole team."


Junior Steve Santos is heading to the NCAAs at 149 pounds. (Columbia University Athletics/Stephen K. Lee)

At 149 pounds, the top six wrestlers earned the NCAA auto-bids and Santos (23-9)  took fourth place after Harvard's Corey Jantzen withdrew in the consolation semifinals due to medical forfeit. Cornell's Chris Villalonga edged Santos, 4-3, in the third-place bout. Santos will be making his first trip to the NCAAs.


Junior Jake O'Hara is heading to the NCAAs at 157 pounds. (Columbia University Athletics/Stephen K. Lee)

At 157 pounds, the top six earned the NCAA auto-bids and O'Hara (28-14) placed fifth. O'Hara had a 4-3 lead over Princeton's Daniel Kolodzik in the consolation semis, but Kolodizik came back to take a 7-4 win. In the fifth-place bout, O'Hara used late takedown in the third period to edge Lehigh's Biran Tanen, 6-5. O'Hara will be making his first trip to the NCAAs.


Senior Kevin Lester is heading to the NCAAs at 285 pounds. (Columbia University Athletics/Stephen K. Lee)

Lester (31-11) had the smallest room for error heading into Sunday as the top three heavyweights earned NCAA auto-bids. He opened the day with a 1:34 pin over Penn's Steven Graziano to advance to the third-place bout. The victory marked the 100th win of Lester's outstanding Lions career. Lester jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Navy's Daniel Miller with a takedown and a two-point near fall in the first period. He held on for the 6-4 win, earning his second-straight ticket to the NCAAs.


Columbia at the 2012 EIWA Championships (Columbia University Athletics/Stephen K. Lee)
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