Finishing second in a sporting event is often difficult to accept. But, when one is runner-up in a field of 12 highly competitive teams -- including a team ranked No. 10 in the nation -- it is a little easier to endure. And when that team's bridesmaid finish includes four out of a possible 10 individual champions, that finish is even sweeter. This was the nature of the Quakers' second-place finish to Harvard at last weekend's EIWA Championships. And while the Quakers could not come out on top, they managed to defeat No.10 Lehigh. Although the regular season is now over for the Quakers, five Penn wrestlers will don the red and blue at the upcoming NCAA National Championships. Penn coach Roger Reina is optimistic about his wrestlers' chances in the biggest wrestling tournament of the year. "We've got five guys going out who can all put a lot of points on the board," Reina said. "It's time to refocus and prepare for key opponents we'll be facing." The five grapplers Penn will send are seniors Yoshi Nakamura, Mike Fickell and Tim Ortman, freshman Mason Lenhard and junior Joe Henson. At 157 pounds, 1999 and 2001 EIWA Champion Nakamura will represent the Red and Blue. The eight-time national judo champion is currently ranked third in the nation and holds an intimidating 24-1 record this season. Nakamura faced No. 12 Leo Urbinelli of Cornell in the EIWA finals last Sunday. In the match, Urbinelli seemed to be attempting to avoid Nakamura -- he was eventually cited for a stalling violation -- and Nakamura won a 6-2 decision. Nakamura is widely regarded as having a chance to win the entire championship, and recognizes this. "My goal is to be at the top of the podium by the end of nationals," he said. EIWA Champion Fickell will also be heading to Iowa to compete in the national championships. Fickell, who holds a 20-3 record on the season, soundly defeated last season's EIWA 197-pound champion Corey Anderson with an 11-3 major decision. Another Penn EIWA champion, Lenhard defeated Lehigh's Mario Stuart at 125 to gain his EIWA Championship last Sunday. Following a first period that saw no scoring, Lenhard picked up the pace and eventually won a 9-7 decision. In his first collegiate season, Lenhard will be grappling for the Quakers on March 15-17, and is excited about the opportunity to capture an All-America title. "Being an All-American, I'm not looking at it as a learning experience, but as a freshman, there's no pressure on me," Lenhard said. The winner at 165 at last weekend's EIWAs, Ortman is also heading to nationals. Ortman won a hotly contested 3-2 victory over Brian Bonfiglio of Princeton to capture his first EIWA championship. The senior is now eagerly anticipating the NCAAS. "I've set my goals high at the beginning of the season, and my goal stands at top four," Ortman said. "I've never lost by more than two points all season, so I have high goals." The fifth and final wrestler headed to Iowa is Henson, who grapples at 149. After placing third this weekend, Henson was selected to compete in NCAAs as a wild-card. Although the regular match season has come to an end for this year's Penn team, these five potential national champions look to continue their wrestling dominance.Comments powered by Disqus
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