The Columbia Lions were the latest wrestling squad to feel the wrath of the Red and Blue — and with that, Penn is officially on a hot streak.
Behind dominating victories by the core trio of sophomore Caleb Richardson, senior C.J. Cobb and senior Lorenzo Thomas, the Quakers tallied their fourth straight victory in a 25-10 defeat of their New York rivals.
Penn (7-4, 3-1 Ivy) has continued to feed on its inferior opponents since its hard-fought loss to Cornell. A huge factor in these recent wins has been the consistent performance by the Quakers’ star grapplers.
Richardson notched the first victory of the day for the Red and Blue in the 133-pound class, defeating Angelo Amenta, 6-3. From there, the Quakers never looked back, rallying to win six bouts over eight weight classes during their taming of the Lions on Saturday.
Senior Jeff Canfora added a major decision in the 141-pound class, 9-1, before junior captain Brooks Martino recorded a major decision of his own with a score of 9-0 at 157 pounds. Thomas and senior Brad Wukie added high scoring major decisions of their own at 184 and 174 pounds, respectively.
Thanks to yet another strong performance, the Quakers are climbing in the national rankings for the second straight week.
Now the 22nd ranked tournament team according to InterMat Wrestle, Penn is the third-highest ranked EIWA team behind Cornell and Lehigh, both of whom defeated Penn early in the season.
The Red and Blue have just two more regular season matches remaining, as the Quakers host Princeton and Drexel this upcoming Saturday. The odds may be in the the team’s favor — Penn is a perfect 4-0 on its home mats this season.
If the Quakers can secure wins against the Tigers and the Dragons, they may have a shot at catching Lehigh in the rankings and building momentum before the conference tournament commences on March 6.
The Columbia match was key for keeping the Quakers’ conference hopes alive as well as for Penn’s grapplers fighting for individual NCAA tournament bids.
Canfora, Martino, Wukie and senior Canaan Bethea added to their cases with convincing wins. All four wrestlers have shone in their matches during the calendar year, and their losses have been few and far between. With victories next weekend, the foursome should be close to ensuring their NCAA berths.
For Thomas, Cobb and Richardson, whose NCAA tickets have been all but punched, Sunday’s match brought more good news: All three wrestlers climbed in the NCAA Coaches Panel.
Richardson, who leads the team with 21 wins this season, moved from No. 22 to No. 18, giving Penn three top 20-ranked wrestlers.
Cobb also made a big jump, from 14th to ninth. Now, with Thomas ranked No. 5, the Red and Blue are one of just 24 programs to feature two top-10 wrestlers.
Cobb, who is riding a 10-match win streak after his win over Columbia’s Connor Sutton, is right in the middle of the All-American conversation at the 149-pound weight class.
Cobb and Richardson have been key to the Quakers’ resurgence in the second half of the season. With one final weekend of wrestling before the conference and national championships, the Red and Blue will be focused on achieving the most out of their stars.
Columbia provided a showcase for the Quakers. If they can continue this success, there’s no telling how far their group of grapplers can take them.
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