(from back left) Frick, Zinck, Strobel, Cooperman and Letters
Travis Frick didn’t need a Lehigh wrestling history lesson before enrolling here five years ago.
You see, Travis’ dad Mike was a two-time NCAA champion wrestler at Lehigh in the mid-1970s and NCAA champs merit wedding portrait-sized photos on a wall in the wrestling room. Frick’s uncle, Jim, wrestled at Lehigh, too. Plus, Frick attended nearby Nazareth High School, a wrestling juggernaut that sent Travis Doto ’00, Chris Vitale ’02, and Rob Rohn ’02 (yep, Rohn, a 2002 national champ, is on the wall too) to Lehigh just before Frick.
“I knew Lehigh’s wrestling history and was hoping to help build on that proud history,” Frick says.
Frick and fellow senior wrestlers Troy Letters, Cory Cooperman, and Derek Zinck have definitely done that. With just weeks left in their college careers, the quartet—dubbed the “Fab Four” by The Allentown Morning Call as freshmen—have combined to win one national title, seven individual All-American honors, and seven individual EIWA titles.
Off the mat, they’ve been quite successful, too. Frick owns an industrial engineering degree and will earn a masters degree in management sciences this summer. Zinck is law school-bound in the fall, while Letters and Cooperman have graduate school on the horizon.
“The tradition of both academic and wrestling excellence pushes you to excel,” Zinck says. “You don’t want to be the guys who let the program slip.”
To ensure that doesn’t happen, Letters and Cooperman will stay in Lehigh’s always balmy wrestling room a little longer as graduate assistant coaches.
“I’ll continue my education as well as work on pursuing my dream of wrestling in an Olympics,” Letters says. “I’ll continue to be coached by the nation’s best coach in Greg Strobel and can help him push younger Lehigh wrestlers to reach their full potential.”
No one pushes around Letters these days. Aiming to become only the school’s third four-time All-American, the 165-pound Letters won a national title in 2004 and finished third last year.
“Troy’s the best collegiate wrestler in his weight class,” Strobel says. “If he performs to his capabilities, he’ll be an NCAA champ again.”
He’s not the only senior with realistic hopes of winning an NCAA title. Cooperman, an Easton native who attended the University of Minnesota for one semester before transferring home to Lehigh, is a two-time All-American at 141 pounds and was third at last year’s NCAAs. Frick was an All-American in 2004 and likely would have been last season, too, if he hadn’t broken his nose in a second-round NCAA Championships match. Zinck has qualified for the NCAAs in each of his first three years and is hungry to return for a fourth time.
“Our goals are to win national titles in our respective weight classes and to capture a team national title,” Zinck says. “Some might say that winning a team national title is impossible for a school the size of Lehigh, but I don’t believe it.
“If we all perform well during those three days at nationals and others step up, anything’s possible.”
Lehigh Alumni Bulletin Online
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006