Penn Wrestling seems to love a good road trip.
The Quakers will hit the road not just once, but twice in the span of a single day to face Brown in Providence at 1 p.m. and Harvard in Boston at 6 p.m. this coming Saturday. Though the Red and Blue are coming off of two tough losses to Princeton and Rider last weekend, they look to utilize this weekend to rebound in a series of Ancient Eight matchups as the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships in March begin to loom large.
“It wont be that bad," senior 174-pounder Casey Kent said of the three-hour trek.
"We did a similar travel schedule earlier in the year, and at tournaments you have to wrestle six or seven matches in a day, so two matches will be easier to handle. We'll have a long break in between matches, so everyone will be ready to go. We should beat both teams [Harvard and Brown].”
Some old rivalries will resurface, as sophomore May Bethea, has faced Brown's 20th-ranked Justin Staudenmayer previously. Though the 157-pounder fell to Staudenmayer in their last matchup, as well as dropping a match to Princeton's Adam Krop last weekend, the sophomore is confident and will look to forget about his past shortcomings this weekend.
“It'll be interesting to wrestle against them again," he said. “I know a little bit more about their style, and hopefully I'll be able to use that to my advantage. I expect that Harvard and Brown will wrestle hard, but I think we can beat them and I think that we're the better team.”
Harvard does boast a strong squad, with several members of the Crimson nationally ranked, including No. 9 Todd Preston at 141 pounds and No. 20 Devon Gobbo at 165. However, history is known to repeat itself — and Penn not only won the very first wrestling match in between these two programs in 1924, but also has topped Harvard in 24 out of 25 of their last matches. Last year's contest resulted in a comfortable 26-13 win for the Quakers, and the team is looking to extend their nearly hundred years of superiority.
For the Quakers' part, they have a number of their own grapplers ranked nationally. Some of that strength will stem from Penn's experienced seniors like No. 15 Casey Kent as well C.J Cobb and Lorenzo Thomas, who are both ranked 12th — the three wrestlers took away five matches between them across both duals last weekend.
“I think we can score points all along the lineup. Lorenzo Thomas has been doing a great job of scoring a lot of points, and Casey has been doing a great job getting bonus points," Bethea said of his teammates.
“Guys have been working hard in the room and pushing each other every day. We'll be working on re-attacks this week and escaping from legs, as that may have effected our outcome this past weekend.”
Though it's important to learn from the past, Penn wrestling certainly won't dwell on it. The squad is looking towards their more ultimate goal of bringing down No. 15 Cornell, whose grapplers have reigned supreme over the Ivy League in recent years.
“Cornell has won the Ivy league for almost the last 15 years. Its important to us to beat them — we kind of consider them rivals. They're the team to beat.”
If the Red and Blue can hit the road without hitting the mat this weekend, it'll bode well for a possible Quaker takedown of the big red at Ivies. For now, the team seems confident that they'll be able to forget their past woes against Princeton and bring home the win from both Providence and Beantown.
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