The future has never looked so bright for Penn wrestling.
The Quakers (3-1, 1-0 EIWA) have raced to a hot start this season after sweeping the competition in this past weekend's Hofstra Duals. Freshmen wrestlers have played a rather significant role in the team's early success this season and highlight the program's strong future.
Coach Roger Reina has continuously spoken highly of the freshmen members of the team and their development throughout the early stages of the season and sees the potential for greatness in the upcoming years.
Three freshmen - Khamari Whimper, Gianni Ghione, and Dan Planta – have already had a profound impact on the season and have seemingly solidified their positions in the lineup.
Wrestling in the 174-pound weight class, Khamari Whimper went undefeated (3-0) in his matches at the Hofstra Duals by besting Campbell's Andrew Morgan, The Citadel's Michael Lopuchanski, and Hofstra's Anthony Olivieri.
"Khamari has showed signs of brilliance early on and has proven that he is a more than capable competitor," Reina said.
Gianni Ghione, featured in the 133-pound weight class for the Red and Blue, placed sixth at the season's opening tournament in Binghamton in early November. As if that wasn't enough, Ghione has won four of his first seven matches this season by way of pin.
Ghione is already 4-1 against EIWA foes and 3-1 against Ivy opponents. In his dual debut against Rider, Ghione won with a fall just 50 seconds into the opening frame. That result, the first win of Penn's home-opening dual, had the Palestra crowd on its feet as Ghione celebrated the quick victory.
"Gianni has been doing a great job thus far in the season and has shown some signs of really great promise," Reina said.
Dan Planta, wrestling at 125 pounds, placed eighth at the Binghamton Open and contributed in the Quakers' victories at the Hofstra Duals last weekend with his defeat of Hofstra's Jacob Martin.
"Dan has been doing a really nice job in the early stages, especially in the two opening tournaments," Reina said.
Planta is currently 5-2 on the season and 2-1 against EIWA opponents. His only conference loss came against Rider, Planta's first dual appearance of the season.
"It's a really exciting opportunity for us to have two freshmen who are very capable of facing more experienced opponents in their respective weight classes," Reina said of Gianni Ghione and Dan Planta.
The Red and Blue's upperclassmen have mentored the younger wrestlers and have played a large role in the development and early successes of the freshmen.
Excitement has rapidly grown throughout the program with the freshmen's unforeseen early rise.
"I think the more experienced wrestlers have stepped into leadership roles," Reina said. "The freshmen have had some great performances and still have room to work toward their full potential."
"Throughout the season, we have continued to emphasize that the need for everyone, up and down the lineup, to step up and contribute," Reina continued.
The Quakers have also already made several splashes in the upcoming recruiting pool for the class of 2022 as the program continues to grow toward the future.
Penn wrestling is truly in good hands as the team charges ahead, led by strong veterans and eager rookies.
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