After a long day of wrestling at the Palestra, the Quakers ended up in second place after a thrilling finish to the Keystone Classic.
With three wrestlers in the finals, Penn had a chance to make up for a disappointing finish to last weekend’s Binghamton Open. All three title bouts went into overtime.
“You’d like to get some of these losses turned into a win, but overall I think the kids did a lot better than they did last weekend,” coach Rob Eiter said. “A little bit more confidence, more aggressiveness is what we were asking for, and I think that they showed it to us today.”
Senior Mark Rappo, weighing in at 125 pounds and ranked No. 13 in the nation, lost in the final by a 6-4 count in overtime against Domenic Malone, a freshman from Northwestern.
The Wildcats, with four winners among seven finalists, easily won the Keystone Classic, finishing more than 50 points ahead of the Quakers.
At 141 pounds, sophomore C.J. Cobb beat the No. 1 seed, Steven Keith of Harvard, in the semifinals before defeating Jameson Oster of Northwestern, 4-2, in the final to get his first collegiate tournament title.
After two scoreless periods, it seemed that Cobb had taken the upper hand in the match with a takedown in the third period, but Oster came right back with a reversal to tie the bout.
“I kept getting my shots but I was having trouble finishing — it was really long and he kept frustrating me,” Cobb said. “When stuff like that happens it’s really easy to lose focus.”
But Cobb persisted and won yet another overtime match with a takedown near the boundary line.
“I tried to switch to a double really fast to let him cut the corner like he usually does … When we went to go out of bounds, I couldn’t drive too far because we were near the line,” Cobb said. “We hit in a weird way, he rolled, went on top and almost scored — I just kind of hipped out, was conscious of where I was and really wanted that takedown.”
Finally, in the 184-pound weight class, junior Canaan Bethea faced Harvard’s Cameron Croy in the finals. And for the second year in a row, Croy lost the final, this time to Penn’s junior grappler. Once again, the bout went to overtime after a tense three periods ended in a 1-1 tie.
“It was really hard to push my strategy and stop his at the same time,” Bethea said. “You get two guys who know each other’s style so it’s hard to score.”
Bethea managed to overcome his initial struggles to score a takedown that ensured a 3-1 victory.
“I tried to reach in and catch his legs but I kind of snapped his head down,” Bethea said. “As soon as he popped back, up I saw his legs open up and went for the takedown.”
The next big challenge for the Red and Blue awaits next weekend, when they will face No. 3 Oklahoma State in their first dual meet of the season.
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