PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/9/2013 – The University of Pennsylvania wrestling team knew they could not win the Ivy League title as Cornell clinched the sport in the national duals. However, there was still much to wrestle for this season. The Red and Blue showed how much by defeating Harvard in a dual meet earlier in the morning 24 – 6. In the afternoon Penn easily defeated Brown 35 – 4 at the Palestra to improve their season record to 7 – 3 and 2 – 1 in conference. The performance showed the team still has the focus to be a good team, and each wrestler knows there are individual titles at stake.
“With us losing to Harvard last year it was a little bittersweet taking second place, and Cornell clinching it this year is a little bittersweet.” Penn Coach Rob Eiter said about the importance of the dual meet sweep. “That’s over and done with. We can work on winning the EIWA Tournament now.”
In the match against Brown 125 pounder Mark Rappo, ranked #20, got the Red and Blue off to a good start winning 8 – 3 over Billy Watterson. Rappo is now 16 – 4 as an individual wrestler. He had not been wrestling well of late, but Eiter saw his win over a quality opponent as a good sign as a starting point.”Rappo didn’t have a good weekend, he knows it , he felt it, and he beat a Brown kid (Watterson) who was in the conference finals two years ago,” Eiter said about his 125 pound wrestler. “That was a good match even though he didn’t wrestle well.”
The Quakers won the next two matches by majority wins as Jeff Canfora (133 pounds) and #9 C.J. Cobb (141 pounds) to give Penn a commanding 11 – 0 lead. Canfora posted his first two Ivy dual wins. Andrew Lenzi won his 149 pound match by injury fall. Troy Hernandez took a 6 – 1 decision over Phil Marano at 157 giving Penn a 20 – 0 lead, and set the stage for the meet clinching match.
Casey Kent wrestled at 165 pounds for Penn meeting Giuseppi Lanzi of Brown. Lanzi got off to a 1 – 0 lead early in the first period. Kent erased that lead with a takedown seconds later. As the period progressed Kent turned Lanzi to his back, then finished the match with a pin in the first period. The victory clinched the team win for the Quakers at 26 – 0 with four matched remaining. Kent improves his individual record to 18 – 10.
“Casey wrestled well,” said Eiter. “He didn’t get flustered against the Brown kid.”
Penn’s Ian Korb won his 174 pound match 10 – 4. Brown would get their only individual win at 184 pounds when Ophir Bernstein defeated Harrison Cook 14 – 3 earning Brown their 3 team points. Penn finished the meet as 9th ranked Micah Burak won 7 – 2 over Gus Marker, and Steven Graziano took a 5 – 2 decision over DJ Ingham of Brown.
“It was good to see Graziano step up and wrestle as we know he can wrestle,” said Eiter.
The Red and Blue has two more Ivy dual meets competing against Columbia and Princeton before meeting Drexel in the wrestling Battle of 33rd Street. Once the dual meet season is completed the Quaker grapplers turn their attention to the EIWA Championships, then on to the NCAA Championships.
“Harvard was an important match for us taking back a win that they got from us last year,” said Eiter about the importance of the dual meet sweep. “It was important for a number of different reasons. The competition, getting back after an hour and a half break, and getting us used to a tournament setting.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian