Cornell may have already claimed the Ivy League title, but there’s still a lot at stake for the Penn wrestling team.
The Quakers (5-6, 1-2 Ivy) face Columbia (4-3, 0-1) at the Palestra this Saturday before traveling to Lewisburg, Pa., to compete against Bucknell (3-15) Sunday.
“This is when the matches really start to matter,” explained senior Erich Smith. “Everybody feels that way, it’s important for seeding in [the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association] and trying to get to nationals.”
The Columbia match will prove doubly important, being both an Ivy League and an EIWA matchup.
“The Columbia match is more important because it’s an Ivy League school also,” coach Rob Eiter said. “We just have to make sure we knock them down. But Bucknell is important for seeding in our conference [the EIWA]. This is our second year against their program, and now they’re a top-five team in our conference.”
Columbia will wrestle the Tigers at Princeton on Friday night before arriving in Philadelphia for an afternoon tilt Saturday against the Quakers. The remaining Ivy League activity has now become a race for second, but the seniors will have extra motivation against the Lions, wrestling for pride on Senior Day.
“Since my family is from Michigan, it’s going to be awesome having them here,” Smith said. “[My parents] were at the Midlands Tournament. That was the first time they got to see me wrestle [for Penn], and I could tell the difference in having [my] family there. I definitely wrestle better.”
On the other hand, the Bison will host the Quakers for their own Senior Day on Sunday. This is Bucknell’s last regular season weekend before the EIWA Championships in March, and they’ll be looking to improve their seeding as well. The Red and Blue hope to avenge their 24-11 loss to Bucknell a year ago.
This weekend is a chance for Penn to return to their usual lineup — including All-American Zack Kemmerer in the 141-pound weightclass — as the team aims to get back on track with the postseason fast approaching.