The Penn wrestling team saw the Keystone Classic yesterday as an opportunity to defend its home court and last year’s team title.
But though the Quakers earned the most individual titles with four first-place finishes, the team could only muster a fourth-place finish in the nine-team tournament at the Palestra.
Part of the reason for this drop in the standings was the noticeable absence of three standout seniors, Rollie Peterkin (125 pounds) and co-captains Matt Dragon (157) and Cesar Grajales (149), who were all suspended for violating an Athletic Department policy.
Coach Rob Eiter declined to explain the violation or whether it was a one-time suspension.
The loss of the three — who have eight combined NCAA appearances — was clearly felt as the wrestlers who replaced the trio combined to go just 4-6 in their matches. Nevertheless, freshman Troy Hernandez filled in admirably for Grajales as he took fifth place in the 149-pound weightclass, defeating Boston University’s Nestor Taffur 6-4.
The regular starters also did well. The Burak brothers shined once again for the Quakers as junior Gabe and freshman Micah both earned first-place finishes in their respective weightclasses. Gabe won his second consecutive tournament of the year at 165 pounds, after defeating No. 1 Chard Porter from Liberty, while Micah claimed his title after pinning Duke’s John Barone in the final match.
In addition, junior Scott Giffin earned first place in the 174-pound weightclass. He attributed his success to his level of aggressiveness throughout the afternoon.
“I think last year, my better matches … were when I continued to score any chance I could,” he said. “I tried to carry that on … [by] scoring points the whole match, instead of just sitting back and waiting.”
Other highlights included the performances of juniors Zach Kemmerer and Bryan Ortenzio. Kemmerer, in his first season as a starter in the 141-pound weightclass, earned first place, building upon the success he had last week when he placed fifth in the Binghamton Open.
Despite being the No. 1 seed and sweeping all three of his matches, Kemmerer’s path to the final was all but easy. He suffered a gaping cut in his lip during his first match after he was inadvertently kicked in the mouth. The bleeding continued to bother Kemmerer, but he was able to persevere all the way to the finals, where he took down No. 2 seed Jordan Lipp of American. Meanwhile, Ortenzio placed second at 133 for the second consecutive week.
Eiter was thoroughly pleased with the performance of all of his wrestlers and thought his team improved upon last week, especially since it didn’t let up late points.
“They did a lot of things better this weekend, as far as wrestling through every position,” Eiter said. “They wrestled through, and actually came up with points instead [of letting opponents score] themselves.”Comments powered by Disqus
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