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Penn wrestling beats Hofstra at the Palestra on Saturday No. 17 Jonny Bonilla-Bowman (HU) def. Gabriel Burak (Penn) Credit: Katie Rubin

Although the Quakers went 2-1 this weekend, four Penn wrestlers completed the Northeast Duals without losing a bout.

The tournament took place Saturday at the Hudson Valley Community College, where Penn defeated Sacred Heart (46-9) and Appalachian State (22-12) but was unable to bring down Michigan (19-12) after losing the last three matches.

“The [wrestlers] that stood out were [juniors] Gabe Burak and Scott Giffin,” coach Rob Eiter said.

Burak defeated Michigan’s Aaron Hynes, who is ranked 19th in the nation in the 165-pound weightclass. At 175, Giffin had an impressive victory over Appalachian State’s Austin Trotman, who is ranked in the top 25 nationally.

“One thing I have been emphasizing,” said Eiter, “is wrestling the full seven minutes.”

And sophomore Mark Rappo (125) wrestled to the bitter end, as he defeated his Michigan opponent in the last two seconds of the match, 3-2.

Rappo and junior Zack Kemmerer (141) both earned a 2-0 record on Saturday.

“We want to win as a team,” Eiter said, “and if each individual takes care of their own business, then the team score will take care of itself.”

Micah Burak did just that. The freshman 197-pounder defeated his Sacred Heart and Appalachian State opponents, but lost to Michigan junior Anthony Biondo, 1-0, who ranked 14th in his weight class.

“If we [got] scored on, we made them work for it,” Eiter said.

That hard work paid off, as Penn proved to be the dominant force over Sacred Heart, defeating the Pioneers in all but the 157 and 285 weightclasses.

A similar scenario arose against Appalachian State. The Mountaineers won at 133 and 157, but Penn was able to crush the competition in all the other weightclasses. Once again, Rappo led the Quakers by defeating Tony Gravely, 19-5.

Against Michigan there was more of a problem. Rappo, Kemmerer, Giffin and Gabe Burak were the only Penn wrestlers to emerge victorious, while Penn was defeated in the remaining weightclasses.

Perhaps lack of experience was a factor. Freshman Troy Hernandez (149) and junior Jake Hunter (157) were forced to fill the void left by three top senior wrestlers who were arrested Nov. 16 for alleged aggravated assault. Eiter, however, is looking to move forward with his squad.

“No one is going to feel sorry for those three kids, myself or the team,” Eiter said. “When it comes right down to it, when we walk out on that mat, someone has got to get their hand raised.”

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