Penn wrestling had a chance to assert its prowess facing two top fifteen opponents before heading into winter break.
But after falling to No. 10 Lehigh last week, experience was Penn’s achilles heel this week, as No. 15 Maryland triumphed over the Quakers, 21-15.
The Red and Blue (3-3) now head into the break with two consecutive losses, but they remain optimistic moving forward.
“[Maryland] didn’t do anything special,” Penn coach Rob Eiter explained. “They didn’t have to get out of their comfort zone too much … I don’t really think we got outwrestled, I think it’s just about being experienced.”
The dual began with Maryland’s Shane Gentry defeating sophomore Geoffrey Bostany in a 5-4 decision. But the Quakers were quickly able to turn the tables when senior Brian Ortenzio defeated freshman Geoffrey Alexander, 4-0. All-American senior Zack Kemmerer followed suit with 4-1 win against Terrapin sophomore Frank Goodwin, affording Penn a 6-3 team lead.
Against Maryland sophomore Ben Dorsay, freshman Steve Robertson showed heart and confidence, coming back from a 3-2 deficit to emerge with the 5-3 decision.
“The first period he caught me with a quick takedown,” Robertson said. “I just knew that if I kept pushing it … I would end up scoring in the second and third period, so I just had to keep pushing the pace, and I was able to get a takedown at the very end.”
But the experience factor began to turn against Penn when five of the six remaining matches pitted the Red and Blue against older opponents.
Maryland senior Kyle John decisively defeated junior Troy Hernandez, 15-2. Maryland junior Josh Asper, No. 2 in tge 165-pound weight class, followed up with a 5-1 win over Quakers freshman Lorenzo Thomas, tying the team score at 9.
Terrapins sophomore Jimmy Sheptock was then able to shutout freshman Ian Korb, 15-0. And Maryland sophomore Ty Snook kept the momentum going with a 7-6 win over senior Erich Smith, putting the Terrapins ahead, 18-9.
The Red and Blue would not go down without a fight. Penn junior Micah Burak notched a fall against senior Corey Peltier, earning six points and giving Penn the potential to tie in the final match.
“I really just wanted the win,” Burak said afterward. “I was able to go for the pin, and I was able to get it so that was a blessing.”
Maryland, however, would smother Penn’s hopes when sophomore Spencer Myers closed the deal with a 10-3 defeat over freshman Anthony DiLonardo.
Despite a second consecutive loss, Eiter kept a bright outlook, noting that experience is the key and while his team currently lacks it — four freshmen started Sunday — the rookies are quickly gaining it.
“We have to take both experiences from this weekend and last weekend and use them to drive us,” he said.
“This is where real champions will step forward, win or lose, from today.”