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Injury turns Lehigh wrestler Welsh from NCAA competitor to spectator

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Thursday, March 21, 2013, 12:31 a.m.

Twisted and awkwardly positioned, Shane Welsh tried to go one way. His elbow went another.

The result was torn shoulder ligaments and the end of his college wrestling career.

“It was bad,” said Welsh, a senior 149-pounder at Lehigh and a Burrell graduate. “Trust me; if it was any less serious, I'd still be out there wrestling.”

Instead, Welsh is on site supporting his teammates Thursday through Saturday at the NCAA Division I national championships at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

Despite receiving an at-large bid to the tournament, Welsh had to withdraw. He was injured in the first round of the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association tournament when a second-period shot went awry. Despite horrendous pain, Welsh finished the match and defeated Franklin & Marshall's Andrew Murand, 5-2.

Welsh forfeited his quarterfinal and consolation-round matches and finished the season at 18-5.

“I have never dealt with any kind of injury like this,” said Welsh, ranked 17th in the country. “It was a freak thing. It's tough to have your career end that way.”

Welsh, who was 69-28 in four years at Lehigh, was a three-time WPIAL champion and one-time PIAA runner-up at 135 pounds.

“It's rough right now,” Welsh said. “But I feel like I will be able to look back and be happy with what I did. I proved to myself and the people close to me that I can compete at the top level. It would have been nice to finish on top. But it's more about the journey to get here.”

Welsh, a former Valley News Dispatch Athlete of the Year as a three-sport performer, won the EIWA title at 149 last season and wrestled two matches in the NCAA Tournament.

A chemical engineering major, Welsh has accepted a job with Hospira Pharmaceuticals and will start in June.

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