The Penn men’s wrestling team dominated the Palestra hardwood — with mats on top, of course — in its final home matches of the season against Ivy League foe Princeton and Philadelphia rival Drexel this past weekend.
The No 23 Quakers (10-3, 4-1 Ivy) got off on the right foot with a dominating 31-8 performance over Princeton (2-11, 0-4 Ivy). Over the course of the Senior Day dual, the Quakers would earn five bonus-points, including two by seniors Mark Rappo and Micah Burak.
“Beating Princeton is always big. It’s a conference match, and we got to work on many things before we head into the post-season,” coach Rob Eiter said.
But the Red and Blue were just getting started, as they later took down Drexel in historic fashion.
The Quakers won all ten bouts en route to a 37-0 shutout against the Dragons (8-12, 3-3 CAA) on Sunday. The win made coach Rob Eiter the fastest Penn wrestling coach ever to reach 50 wins.
“[The Dragons] have a great young coaching staff, and they’re fighting, which is half the battle,” Eiter said. “But we had to go out there and act like it was day two of the EIWA Championships, not worrying about who the opponent was.”
It was the first time this year and the first time since 2011 that the Quakers held their opponents scoreless.
Nevertheless, Rappo, C.J. Cobb and Burak were seriously challenged by the Dragons. Rappo was on his way to a decisive win, jumping out to an 11-2 lead, but had to survive a late comeback attempt by Jacob Goodwin to hold on, 11-7. It was the 14th straight home dual meet win for Rappo.
Cobb and Burak’s bouts were the only two featuring solely ranked grapplers. No. 9 Cobb took care of No. 19 Frank Cimato, 4-1, relying on the match’s only takedown to come out on top. No. 8 Burak, was tied with No. 19 Brandon Palik for the majority of the match before earning a few key points in the third period.
“Everyone knows what Micah is going to do, but he wins anyway,” Eiter said.
It was an especially momentous occasion for senior and captain Troy Hernandez. The New Jersey native had been bitten by the injury bug a few times over the years, but was able to go 2-0 individually on the weekend in his final home meets.
“It’s always good to win in front of the home crowd,” Hernandez said. “It’s great to have that kind of big momentum heading into the postseason.
“To go 2-0 and do it for my friends and family and get two big team wins in my last time here had to be one of my favorite memories ever.”
The wrestling team will be back in action in two weeks when they head to East Brunswick, N.J. for the EIWA Championships.
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