Wrestling duals are all about winning toss-up matches — just ask Penn coach Rob Eiter.
Going into Sunday’s bout against Iowa State (4-3), the No. 20 Quakers (4-2) knew that it wouldn’t be easy to knock off an evenly-matched Cyclones team that featured five ranked wrestlers.
And they were proven right, as Iowa State handed Penn its second loss of the season, 25-9.
“They came out ready to go. They’re obviously a much, much better team than what their record shows and we knew that going in,” Eiter said. “I’m a little disappointed in our efforts at some weights and I’m impressed at other weights.”
The day started off at 125 pounds, where senior Mark Rappo gave the Quakers a quick 3-0 lead with an 8-2 decision over No. 20 Ryak Finch. Rappo scored two takedowns in the first period and never looked back.
“I like when I go out there and score right away, build a good lead in the first,” Rappo said. “I think that the one thing that [stood] out is that they were winning their end of periods … that’s something that is really big in a match, even in the first or second period.”
The Cyclones’ John Meeks (133 pounds) then won against Geoffrey Bostany, 8-5, before No. 12 C.J. Cobb (141) gave the Red and Blue their last advantage of the day with an 8-2 victory over No. 20 Luke Goettl.
Iowa State then took over the lead for good with decisions by Max Mayfield (149) and Logan Molina (157) over Andrew Lenzi and Troy Hernandez, respectively. No. 20 Michael Moreno (165) then extended the Cyclones’ lead to 13-6 with a 11-3 major decision over Casey Kent.
The next bout didn’t even reach the second frame, as Iowa State’s Tanner Weatherman (174) pinned Penn’s Harrison Cook with 28 seconds left in the first period.
At 184 pounds, Penn junior Canaan Bethea took the bout to the fringe but surrendered a last-second takedown to Boaz Beard, essentially ending the match for the Quakers.
“Scoring in the ends of periods, that’s just effort, you got to know that there’s short time and that’s the most alarming and disappointing,” Rappo said. “It looked like, and I’m sure it wasn’t intentional — a lack of effort.”
No. 7 Micah Burak (197) then lost, 3-1, to No. 11 Kyven Gadson as the Cyclones’ redshirt sophomore managed to take him down in overtime.
“I’ve watched [Gadson] wrestle before, he’s very athletic obviously. [Iowa State] had Micah very well scouted and it’s hard to coach against an athletic kid cause he has so many different attributes that he can use,” Eiter said. “Micah’s just got to find another way to score besides his normal two-on-one.”
Emotion then took over during the heavyweight bout between Penn’s Kyle Cowan and No. 20 Matt Gibson. The match was interrupted twice due to injury timeouts by the Cyclones, but Cowan stayed cool and scored two near falls to notch the upset by a 7-3 margin.
“[Cowan]’s obviously a very emotional kid … He was able to maintain his composure for the most part and work his way back in,” Eiter said. “When you choose top in the third period [and] it’s your choice — that shows a lot of confidence.”
The Red and Blue will take next weekend off before heading to Ithaca, N.Y., for their much anticipated matchup against Ivy League and EIWA rival Cornell.
“We’re going to need 10 guys to wrestle 100 percent, for seven minutes in one of the best matches of the year,” Rappo said. “And actually we match up favorably with [the Big Red] if we get those toss-up matches, but the score could build up if we don’t.
“The team is real upset I think with their performance [against Iowa State]; they knew the opportunity that was here for them to really make a big statement,” Eiter said. “But we can’t keep our head down, we got to push forward and hopefully let it burn a little bit inside and use it as a motivation.”
A previous version of this article misidentified the photographed wrestler as Mark Rappo. The wrestler is in fact Kyle Cowan.