After the first day of the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships, it looked as if the Penn wrestling team was in place to recapture the team title after a one-year hiatus. The Quakers, however, came up a little short for the second straight year, as Harvard claimed its first-ever EIWA championship. What's interesting, however, is that the narrow nine-point margin by which Harvard (123 points) ousted Penn (114) cannot be entirely attributed to the Quakers' achilles' heel -- bonus points. Instead, Penn's problems this past weekend at the Palestra were mainly the result of sub-par performances in the consolation rounds. "A big factor that kept us from winning the team title was the consolation semifinal round wasn't as strong as it needed to be," Penn coach Roger Reina said. Of the four Penn wrestlers that reached the consolation semifinals, only junior Joe Henson was able to come away with a victory. The other three wrestlers -- freshmen Mike Faust and Marcus Schontube and junior Josh Henson -- took fifth, sixth and sixth, respectively. "I'm a little upset that I placed so low," Schontube said. "I came in and I thought I had a really good chance to make the finals." Another contributing factor was the untimely loss of Penn freshman Doug McGraw two weeks ago when he reinjured his knee against Matt Goldstein of Lehigh. * Many Penn wrestling alumni returned to the Palestra to participate in the weekend festivities. Making one of the longer treks was 1943 Penn graduate Dick DiBatista, a three-time NCAA wrestling champion. "I came up from Florida just for [the EIWAs]," DiBatista said. "I enjoyed the activities very much, and I only wish that Penn could've won the thing." Other notables included former EIWA champions Brett and Clint Matter, Andrei Rodzianko and Brandon Slay, all of whom presented trophies on Sunday. "It's been a lot of fun to see all my friends," Clint said. "It's a testimony to the close knit nature of the team. It's fun to see the tradition continue with so many great performances this year." * The most memorable match of the weekend was the championship bout at 133 pounds, which pitted Harvard senior No. 1 Matt Picarsic against Princeton junior No. 2 Juan Venturi. With a minute remaining, Picarsic had a 7-5 lead on Venturi. The Princeton junior then went on an offensive flurry, scoring on two double-leg shots in 30 seconds to give him a one-point lead. With the score standing at 9-8, Venturi had to decide between attempting to ride Picarsic out for the win or giving up a free escape and going for another takedown. Venturi formed a triangle with his hands -- indicating that he opted for the latter route. The crowd roared in support of his choice. "The fans like to see good wrestling and a lot of effort, and I think the Princeton kid did a great job coming from behind," Reina said. Venturi did the unimaginable, scoring yet another takedown against the Crimson grappler, putting himself up 11-9. Picarsic managed to escape, cutting the lead to one with just four seconds left. Just as it appeared Venturi had the match locked up, he was hit with a very controversial stalling violation at the buzzer, tying the score at 11. What ensued was two full minutes of booing and swearing from the Penn home crowd. "I thought I had won when I was called back to wrestle the OT period," Venturi said afterwards. "The call was bad, but still, I should have cut Picarsic sooner and avoided the penalty point." That penalty point proved to be devastating, as Picarsic would score a takedown 30 seconds into the overtime period to claim victory, 13-11. Venturi received a standing ovation as he left the mat. He pumped his fist in the air in appreciation of the crowd's support and was unable to hold back the tears as his coach and assistant coach came to his side. "Leaving the mat while the crowd was giving me a standing ovation was exciting, but very emotional," Venturi said. Venturi was given another standing ovation later on as he received his runner-up trophy.Comments powered by Disqus
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