BETHLEHEM, PA. - Penn wrestling went into the first day of EIWAs at Lehigh with some of the highest expectations in the program’s recent history, taking six All-Ivy performers into the conference championship meet.
The Quakers won’t be sending all six to them semi-finals, but they certainly held their own against some of the East Coast’s top grapplers.
"We did OK," said coach Alex Tirapelle with a shrug. "It's in-between an average and good performance right now."
The meet got off to a bit of an inauspicious start for the Red and Blue, as 174-pounder Brad Wukie was defeated in a tight early match, 5-3.
In another unfortunate turn of events for the Quakers, standout sophomore Caleb Richardson – who had previously won his first match – sustained an apparent ankle injury in his second match and was eventually narrowly defeated, 6-4.
Just as Richardson got edged, 141-pounder Jeff Canfora got edged on a nearby mat. Amongst the hectic, controlled-chaos of Stabler Arena, the Penn wrestling coaching staff – including head coach Alex Tirapelle – was visibly upset.
Just as things were starting to look down for Penn, however, the Quakers’ two stars broke through.
149-pounder CJ Cobb was dominant is his 15-6, semifinal-clinching victory. Just a half-hour later, 2014 All-American clinched a semifinal appearance in equally impressive fashion. Both look to be in strong form as they eye individual conference titles.
"My last match, I felt really fast," Cobb said. "I felt like I could do whatever I wanted."
"My expectations tomorrow are ... just do what I've been working on the past year," Thomas added after his second win.
Caanan Bethea also earned a day two semifinal appearance, helping to turn the tides for the Red and Blue. All three will continue on in the elimination-style tournament.
"As long as your alive on the front side, you've got a chance to win it," Tirapelle said of his team's aspirations for individual titles.
Semifinals and individual finals will take place on Saturday morning and night, respectively, once again hosted by Lehigh at Stabler Arena.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.