The Quakers will face stiff competition from Lehigh and Cornell at Navy. The 15th-ranked Penn wrestling team is traveling down to Annapolis, Md., in search of an unprecedented fifth consecutive title, as the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championship starts today. The Quakers (9-5, 5-1 EIWA) are in a position to become the only five-time repeat EIWA team champions in the modern wrestling era. In fact, you would have to go all the way back to before World War II to locate another dynasty that tallied four in a row. "[Winning at Easterns] has become a tradition for the last four years," Penn junior 197-pounder Mike Fickell said. Based on individual seedings, the teams to beat in the 14-team field look to be perennial EIWA powers No. 12 Lehigh, No. 17 Cornell and Penn. Harvard, meanwhile, has an outside chance to sneak into the top three. The Crimson are led by 2000 All-American contenders Ed Mosley and Joey Killar. The Quakers, though, like their chances of bringing home another EIWA title. "I think if we wrestle to our potential, it won't even be a close team race," Penn senior Brett Matter said. Lehigh -- the last team to capture a team title before Penn's current streak began -- leads all schools with seeded wrestlers in nine out of ten weight classes. Penn, Cornell and Harvard each look to field eight seeded competitors. Lehigh will have the top team seeding in the tournament, by virtue of narrowly defeating Penn earlier this season. The February 20 loss at the Palestra will no doubt be on the minds of the Quakers. "It stings to lose [to Lehigh]," Matter said. "We want to wrestle hard and prove that we're the best team in the EIWA by far." Besides crowning the overall team champion, the tournament also serves as a qualifier for the NCAA Championships. The top two wrestlers in each weight class, along with six wild cards, will head to the Kiel Center in St. Louis on March 16-18. "We should have the ability to have 10 semifinalists and send all ten guys to Nationals," Matter said. This weekend's action, to be held at Navy's Alumni Hall, kicks off at 11 a.m. today with the preliminaries. Here is what to expect in each weight class. 125 National No. 13 Jeremy Sluyter of East Stroudsburg looks to be the favorite again. Perhaps the most interesting match will be between Lehigh's Bruce Kelly and Cornell's Aaron Taylor in the semifinals, as this match could have big implications in the team race. Penn's Kevin Rucci, who may return to action for the Quakers, dropped from the EIWA rankings after he sustained a hand injury. 133 The action here looks to be relatively weak as none of the competitors are nationally ranked. Brown's Livio DiRubbo should be the top seed. His main competition will come from Penn senior Jason Nagle and Harvard's Matt Picarsic. 141 Lehigh's Matt Goldstein was a slight favorite to grab the top seed until Penn freshman Jody Giuricich knocked him off at the Palestra, 3-2. 149 Lehigh's Dave Esposito should be a lock at the No. 1 seed, but there is parity among the rest of the competitors. Penn's Jon Gough may be able to grab a No. 2 or 3 seed. 157 All-American and national No. 2 Matter has never lost a match in the EIWA tournament and looks to become the first Quakers four-time EIWA champion. Leo Urbinelli of Cornell is probably a lock at the second seed. With these two wrestlers hailing from two of the top three teams, this weight class is vital in the race for the team championship. 165 There will likely be a showdown between Lehigh's Travis Doto and All-American Joey Killar of Harvard. Penn senior Tim Ortman has been emerging of late. 174 National No. 2 Rick Springman of Penn is the favorite to beat No. 4 Ed Mosley of Harvard in the finals, but defending EIWA champion Joe Tucceri of Cornell could also be a factor at the three seed. 184 Lehigh's Rob Rohn and Cornell's Rost Aizenberg should vie for the title, but Penn's Mike Gadsby has the ability to be dangerous. 197 Fickell has held the highest national ranking, and he will be a lock to win if he is at his best this weekend. Heavyweight National No. 5 Bandele Adeniyi-Bada of Penn is a definite top seed. He has defeated last year's champion, Seth Charles of Cornell, in dual meets the last two years.Comments powered by Disqus
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