Penn wrestling gets its chance at retribution
With two bouts set for the weekend, No. 18 Penn seeks to avenge last year’s losses
December 2, 2011, 12:57 am·
In an action-packed weekend, Penn wrestling will have a chance to establish state supremacy as they face two local foes.
While Lehigh is an old rival, Bloomsburg is starting its own rivalry with the Quakers as Penn will face stiff challenges throughout the doubleheader this weekend.
Last year, the Red and Blue fell to both teams — 35-4 in a lopsided loss to the Mountain Hawks and 25-23 in an upset at home against the Huskies.
The task will be no easier this year, especially against No. 6 Lehigh, ranked 12 spots above Penn.
“It should be a fun dual because [Lehigh] brings many fans who will be yelling at me,” junior Micah Burak said.
Burak, who competes in the 197-pound weight class, is ranked at No. 6 in the nation and has been performing well recently. He won his three matches at the Northeast duals last weekend — his first action of the season.
For the third year in a row, Burak will be competing against No. 9 Joe Kennedy, who got the best of Burak last season, while it was the Penn grappler who took the bout two years ago. Both matches have been decided by one point.
“I’ve been thinking about that matchup a little bit more than the other ones. He’s a tough opponent … a good scrambler,” Burak said. “I know a few [moves] that work well against him.”
Senior Bryan Ortenzio, who is ranked No. 14 in the 133-pound weight class, will be looking for his first win against a Lehigh opponent.
“That match means a lot to me. I’ve come really close in the past — a couple of last-second losses to senior kids,” Ortenzio said.
“But this year they have an underclassman so the tables are turned a little bit, which I’m pretty happy about. Still, they have a tough kid in my way, so I’m looking forward to putting him in his place a little bit,” he added.
Last season, Penn was favored over Bloomsburg. Even though the Huskies are considered the underdogs again in tonight’s meeting, the Red and Blue will be sure to come in with a lot of intensity.
“[Lehigh] is a big rivalry but we’re not going to overlook Bloomsburg,” Ortenzio said. “There’s a lot of bad blood there, which makes it interesting.”
Coach Rob Eiter echoed that sentiment, callwing Bloomsburg a “blue-collar team.”
“Technically they’re pretty straightforward, nothing specific but they’re a very physical team,” he said.
Senior Zack Kemmerer, the Quakers’ top-ranked wrestler at No. 4 in the 141-pound weightclass, will wrestle for his 100th career collegiate win.
Barring a huge upset, Penn’s record holder for wins in a season should achieve this feat. He will square off against either sophomore Matt Hicks or freshman Matt Rappo, brother of senior Penn wrestler, Mark.
Eiter expects “hard matchups, seven-minute matches where you [have] to wrestle the whole time.”
“Those Bloombsburg guys, they’re going to come after you — win or lose, they’re still wrestling.”