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Penn Wrestling beats Harvard Crimson at the Palestra. 141 Credit: Katie Rubin

For Penn’s wrestling team, the final exam period may actually be a time of relief.

The Quakers, who have competed in seven events over the past five weeks, will receive a much needed two-week break after falling 32-6 to No. 7 Maryland in College Park, Md., Friday night.

Juniors Brian Ortenzio and Zack Kemmerer won the only two matches on the day for Penn — at the 133- and 141-pound weight classes respectively — and even those victories seemed a bit unsatisfying.

Ortenzio was set to face off against the Terrapins’ No. 8 Steven Bell, while Kemmerer was looking forward to a matchhup against No. 12 Alex Krom, but the Quakers’ duo learned at the weigh-in that the two talented Terps were given the night off.

“We feel … a little bit cheated,” Ortenzio said. “We really wanted to wrestle their All-Americans.”

Kemmerer was also disappointed. “It was just a little anti-climactic,” he said. “We had that hyped feeling all week long.”

For the rest of the Quakers though, the Terrapins proved to be a bit too much. Penn started the meet behind after forfeiting the 285-pound weight class and struggled to find success in the other weight classes.

Maryland’s No. 3 Hudson Taylor (197) took just 49 seconds to pin freshman standout Micah Burak. Burak’s older brother Gabe (165), who entered the competition with a 18-2 record, was defeated by Maryland redshirt-freshman Josh Asper, 12-7. And in one of the marquee matchups of the day, No. 18 Penn junior Scott Giffin (174), dropped his match 7-4 to No. 6 Mike Letts.

“We were aggressive … in every match,” Coach Eiter said. “We just didn’t close out some of them.”

The Quakers will have to put these matches in the rearview mirror before they travel to Greensboro, N.C. on December 29-30 for the Southern Scuffle tournament.

The Scuffle will present a unique challenge to the Quakers, giving them the opportunity to wrestle against teams they usually do not face, including three teams from the Big Ten Conference (Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota).

“The Big Ten Conference is very physical,” he added. “[We’re] looking forward to … get a feel for that.”

Ten days later, Penn will welcome both Binghamton and Rider to the Palestra.

“I think they’re great teams to wrestle right after the Scuffle,” Eiter added. “We’re very evenly matched.”

In the end, the Quakers will have to maintain their focus and training over the holiday break, a time when some wrestlers see the opportunity to make great strides.

“I look at the holiday as an opportunity to train harder,” Ortenzio said. “I feel like I can gain ground on a lot of the competition.”

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