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Shane Onufer (Wyoming) def. Scott Giffin during round 3 of the 2009 NCAA Championships in St Louis, Missouri. Credit: Andrew Gardner

After entering the year ranked No. 24 in the preseason Intermat rankings, the Penn wrestling team has been fighting an uphill battle of late.

Battling injuries and the suspension of its top three wrestlers ­— seniors Rollie Peterkin, Cesar Grajales and Matt Dragon, who entered the preseason at No. 6, No. 7 and No. 17 respectively — the Quakers have struggled to fill all of the spots in their lineup and have fallen out of the rankings.

Unfortunately for Penn, the competition won’t be letting up anytime soon.

Tomorrow, the team will head to College Park, Md., where it will battle the No. 7 Terrapins.

“These will be some interesting matches,” said Coach Rob Eiter “a lot of swing matches and a lot of matches that could go either way.”

With top 20 wrestlers in six of ten weight classes, Maryland has proven why it deserves one of the top spots in the nation.

“Maryland has a pretty solid lineup top to bottom,” said Eiter.

Freshman Micah Burak, who is 9-3 in tournaments and 2-1 in duals, will be going up against No. 3 senior Hudson Taylor in the 197-pound weightclass.

“I just have to wrestle hard. He is pretty good top and bottom,” said freshman Micah Burak “ I would just have to beat him on my feet and at the neutral position.”

Taylor was named the Atlantic Coast Conference wrestler of the week after beating three nationally ranked wrestlers last weekend and becoming Maryland’s all-time leader in victories and pins.

The senior surpassed the previous record of 139 victories and is now at 140. He is 17-0 this season with 13 out of those coming from pins.

“Micah probably has the biggest challenge,” said Eiter.

No. 18 Scott Giffin, who is 8-1 at tournaments and 3-0 in duals at the 174-pound weightclass, is the only Penn wrestler ranked in the top twenty. He will be facing another nationally ranked opponent: No. 6 Maryland junior Mike Letts.

In the 141-pound weightclass, junior Zack Kemmerer will have to hold his own against No. 12 Alex Krom. The red-shirt senior, who is 5-0 in the ACC, leads the Terrapins along with Taylor, with an identical 17-0 record.

“They are training hard, and they know the task at hand,” said Eiter. “They are a little tired right now; we have been competing for four straight weeks.”

Despite the myriad of obstacles facing the Quakers, they have been able to hold their own thus far this season. Princeton is the only Ivy League team able to match their .667 winning percentage.

But the Quakers are confident in their ability to add another to the win column.

“I think we could win six matches,” Burak said. “And that’s all we would need to win the dual.”

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