It was definitely worth the wait.
In Penn wrestling's opening weekend with duals, the Quakers finished 3-1 with wins over Campbell, The Citadel, and Hofstra, while suffering a loss against Rider.
The Quakers (3-1) fell 15-9 to Rider on Friday in the Palestra, before responding to beat Campbell, 16-15, The Citadel, 35-10, and Hofstra, 34-8, on Sunday in the Hofstra Duals in Hempstead, New York.
In the first dual of the season for the Quakers, coach Roger Reina needed a strong team performance against Rider, who came in as the No. 21 team in the country.
“I thought we had a good overall team performance on Friday night. We knew we needed to get some upsets to put us in a position to win, and we got a couple of those,” Reina said.
Rider came in after defeating Iowa State last Sunday and extended their winning streak in Philadelphia, despite an impressive performance from Penn.
“I think everybody wrestled really hard. Rider is a very balanced team up and down the lineup and has a lot of veterans in the lineup,” Reina added.
Penn came out on top of each dual on Sunday, defeating Campbell, The Citadel, and Hofstra in succession. The fully packed weekend tested the team’s endurance and focus.
“I think it is good preparation for the tournaments that we have coming up like the Midlands Championships at the end of December," the winningest head coach in Penn wrestling history said. "This kind of a weekend is really good preparation for those multi-day events and being able to handle multiple matches in one day. I thought our guys responded well to that.”
Freshman Khamari Whimper, senior Joe Olivia, senior Joe Heyob, senior Frank Mattiace, and sophomore Jake Lizak were undefeated on Sunday.
The Quaker freshmen continued to improve and stand out this weekend. Gianni Ghione, Daniel Planta, and Khamari Whimper performed at a high level. On Friday, Ghione had a first period pin, his fourth of the season, against Hofstra's Jonathon Tropea.
“I thought Gianni Ghionne also posted a good win today against a Hofstra opponent. And Khamari Whimper had three wins, and I think had really good steps forward in his progress,” Reina added.
“It is really building important experience for them as they move into this role as a freshman starter,” Reina continued.
The Quakers will look to take continue this momentum against Lehigh next Sunday at home and at the Midlands Championships the last weekend of December.
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