BETHLEHEM, PA. – It’s probably hyperbolic to say that Penn wrestling went into EIWAs – its conference championship meet – this weekend with a supercilious attitude, but it’s likely that the Red and Blue left the meet feeling a bit humbled.
Penn entered day two with three grapplers still in play in the semifinal round but left the day with only one finalist and without an individual champion.
Perhaps the most disappointing turn of events of the day for the Quakers came in Penn’s first semifinal matchup – star 147-pounder C.J. Cobb against sixth-seeded underdog Chris Perez of Princeton.
Cobb notched what looked to be a crucial takedown of Perez in the match’s third period, but a video review led to the takedown being overturned, denying Cobb of two important points in a close match. The decision ended up being the difference in the match, as Cobb ended up being defeated, 3-2.
Cobb, who was dominant in his day one match, was expected to advance to the finals of the tournament, so his early exit was a clear surprise.
Going into the meet,184-pounder Lorenzo Thomas was generally thought to be Penn’s second-best bet for an individual conference champion, behind only Cobb.
Much like Cobb, Thomas was impressive in his first two matches of the tournament on Friday, but he ran into a buzzsaw on Saturday.
In the semifinals, Thomas faced No. 1 nationally-ranked Gabe Dean, his longtime nemesis. Thomas fought hard, but Dean was ultimately too much, and Thomas had to settle for a third-place finish.
The Quakers did have their fair share of positive results too, though.
Caanan Bethea went to the finals in the 197-pound bracket off the strength of a hard-fought victory over No. 1-seed Abram Ayala of Princeton in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Brook Martino did enough over the course of the tournament to earn an automatic qualifying bid for NCAAs later this month.
He will be joined for sure by Thomas and Bethea, who also have earned automatic bids.
Meanwhile, the season is over for those who do not get at-large bids to NCAAs, and the Quakers – who had six All-Ivy performers on the season – go out with a fifth-place overall finish at EIWAs.
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