It may have been freezing this weekend, but the Quakers are heating up.
Penn wrestling earned a hard-fought 19-13 victory in its first dual of the year against a veteran Maryland squad in College Park on Friday night, and the team followed that performance up with a fourth-place effort at the 19th iteration of the Keystone Classic on Sunday at the Palestra.
Without last year’s pair of Keystone champions — Canaan Bethea and C.J. Cobb — the Quakers had six wrestlers place, two reach the finals and one earn a championship.
Penn junior Lorenzo Thomas won a thrilling match, 5-2, over Indiana’s Lucas Sheridan to take the Classic title at 184 pounds. The bout, which featured the top two seeds in the 184-pound class, was tight throughout, with Thomas using a late takedown to cement his championship.
The triumph came after a loss in Friday’s dual match.
“It feels good to bounce back,” Thomas said. “I knew I had to clear my head after the loss on Friday. It was good to get some wins today.”
Thomas was in the minority for Penn, however, as the young squad won six out of their 10 matches against the Terps.
Freshman Caleb Richardson started off the match — and his collegiate dual career — on a positive note, winning his bout 10-5 to give the Quakers an early 3-0 lead.
The squads split the next four matches, and Penn led the dual, 9-7, going into halftime.
After a back-and-forth first half, Penn took control of the dual.
Sophomore Casey Kent methodically earned a 6-0 win over Maryland senior Danny Orem in the 165-pound division to give the Quakers a 12-7 lead coming out of the break.
Penn senior Brad Wukie then added another victory in the 174-pound match to extend the Quakers’ lead to eight.
After Lorenzo Thomas dropped his match to No. 2 Jimmy Sheptock to make the lead a more precarious five points, freshman Frank Mattiace came through to seal the deal for the Quakers.
The 197-pounder triumphed over 10th-ranked fifth-year senior Christian Boley, 12-4, to extend the Quakers’ lead to 19-10 with only one match remaining.
Although he thought the team could have wrestled better on Friday, Penn coach Rob Eiter was happy with the play of his young wrestlers as well.
“We have such a young team, and we weren’t quite sure how they were going to handle a big match like that,” Eiter said. “I was real impressed with our freshmen, [especially] Frank Mattiace. It’s good to see a freshman go up against a fifth-year senior and do well.”
The youthful vigor continued on Sunday for the Quakers. After losing in the semifinals of the Keystone Classic, Penn Richardson and Mattiace clawed back and placed fourth in their weightclasses, 125 and 197 pounds, respectively.
Penn’s Steve Robertson took fifth-place at 157, and Casey Kent finished sixth in the 165-pound class after a medical forfeit.
“Tournaments are hard because you have so many ups and downs throughout the whole day,” Eiter said. “There were a lot of missed opportunities for our guys, but it’s only November. It’s a good learning experience.”
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