A trip to Bethlehem didn’t go as Penn wrestling would have liked, but more than one star emerged.
The Red and the Blue lost decisively to No. 11 Lehigh on Saturday in Bethlehem, as the Mountain Hawks emerged with a 31-6 victory at home.
Lehigh, who entered Saturday’s match with a 5-1 record, were favorites to come out on top in the annual matchup. Penn was missing some of its top wrestlers — including injured senior Lorenzo Thomas — which did little to improve the Quakers’ prospects.
“We knew it was going to be a tall order,” coach Alex Tirapelle said, recognizing the recent strong form of the Mountain Hawks, whose only loss this season came at the hands of No. 5 Penn State.
Tirapelle lamented the loss but nonetheless found delight in some of the individual performances.
“We finished on a high note,” Tirapelle explained, as the Quakers went down by a startling 25-0 deficit before salvaging the 31-6 final score.
After a difficult start, senior C.J. Cobb managed to overpower and take down Lehigh’s Drew Longo at 149 pounds for Penn’s first bout win.
Another of the highlights came from freshman Joe Heyob, who managed to turn around and come out on top at 174 pounds against Lehigh’s fifth-year senior Marshall Peppelman in the final bout of the day.
With a 7-4 score and a win for Heyob against a more experienced opponent, the result meant a second-bout win as well as encouragement for the relatively young Penn squad.
“It was a little bit intimidating,” Heyob said, recalling how he felt in the moments before the bout, held in the middle of a gym filled with Lehigh fans.
“You’ve got to focus and block out the distractions,” he continued, explaining how he successfully managed to build momentum after a crucial turnaround in his bout.
Tirapelle also praised the performance of sophomore Caleb Richardson, who, despite his 3-2 loss, had an impressive showing against Lehigh’s sixth-ranked Mason Beckman at 133 pounds.
With the wins from Cobb and Heyob, the Red and the Blue ended with two wins out of a total of ten bouts .
The seemingly bleak outcome of Saturday’s match against Lehigh does not do the squad performance justice, commented Heyob, who said that the team is still improving.
Even though a win might have seemed unlikely, Tirapelle urged the importance of not overlooking any loss — including this one.
“As a whole, we’ve got some work to do.”
The Quakers are recharging as they look ahead to the Midlands Championships at the end of the month.
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