All winning streaks must come to an end, and Penn wrestling’s 13-meet string of victories over city rival Drexel came to an end Saturday night.
Despite strong performances late from the Red and Blue, a 17-0 advantage built up by the Dragons proved too much to over come, falling, 23-16, on the road.
It didn’t help the Quakers’ cause that a number of their mainstays were out of the lineup Saturday, including senior CJ Cobb, sophomore Marc Mastropietro and senior Frank Mattiace. Between the three of them is a combined 15-9 dual record.
Mattiace’s absence was particularly significant as the senior had just recently come off of an injury to rattle off wins in three straight matches. Still, Penn coach Alex Tirapelle thinks even guys who don’t normally start should be coming in to any situation prepared.
“They know what they’ve got to do,” he said. “They know they’ve got to execute, and they’ve been doing it in practice”
The struggles for the Red and Blue came early, as junior Jeremy Schwartz lost at 125 pounds on a fall before a 4-1 decision went against classmate Caleb Richardson.
Although the 9-0 hole for the Quakers was bad, the deficit only grew larger as freshman AJ Vindici stepped into the rotation for Mastropietro at 141 pounds because of injury. Vindici lost his bout via major decision to Kevin Devoy to bring the match to 13-0.
Senior Eric Friedman, wrestling in only his second dual meet of the season, was also brought into the starting lineup in the absence of Cobb. Going up against No. 11 Matt Cimato, the 149-pounder was handed a 10-2 major decision as Drexel extended their advantage even further to 17-0.
Those were the last points the Dragons would get for awhile, however.
Sophomore 157-pounder May Bethea continued his breakout campaign, netting his squad six points with a fall, before senior Brooks Martino won a 5-3 decision at 165 pounds for three more points.
Penn then turned to its big guns with seniors Casey Kent and Lorenzo Thomas, ranked 15th nationally at 174 and 184 pounds, respectively. The duo brought in nine more points as Kent secured a 9-1 major decision over Nick Elmer and Thomas scored three points with an 8-3 decision over Stephen Loiseau.
With the Red and Blue down just a single point at 17-16, the meet came down to the final two matches. It was there that the Quakers’ rally would end.
Stepping in for the injured Mattiace at 197 pounds, sophomore Joe Heyob found himself on the wrong end of a 3-1 decision and sophomore Pat Garren dropped the final match of the night, 2-0, at 285 pounds as Penn’s fate was sealed.
"[Drexel] competed hard,” Tirapelle noted. “Their guys really wanted to win. They saw the opportunity, and they capitalized on it. Sure, we had guys out, but I think that if we competed to our best ability, we still win that match”
Beyond Saturday’s dual, however, remain concerns about the injuries that hampered the Red and Blue having an effect as the team looks to the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Associataion Championships in two weeks.
“The plan is to have them back,” Tirapelle said, “but you can’t really know. ... It’s nice to have a weekend off and let the guys get healthy.”
If nothing else, some of the guys the Quakers may have to turn to come EIWAs got some needed experience this weekend.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.