For one of the few times this season, Penn’s wrestling team will enter a dual with the healthier squad.
The Quakers will travel to Hempstead, N.Y., Sunday to take on a hobbled Hofstra team that has seen its 125- and 149-pound starters go down with season-ending injuries. On top of that, Pride junior Ryan Patrovich (174) has sat out his last eight matches due to injury after compiling a 16-7 record.
The Quakers, on the other hand, are hoping for the return of one of their injured senior co-captains, Cesar Grajales (149), with coach Rob Eiter giving his comeback 70-30 odds.
Fellow captain Matt Dragon, who has been in and out of the lineup with a recurring shoulder problem, will not wrestle. Dragon gave it a go last week against Pittsburgh but eventually had to forfeit his match because his injury flared up again.
While the decision of when to bring Dragon back has been difficult for Eiter all season, the prospect of the senior being matched-up with Hofstra’s Jonny Bonilla-Bowman made his choice a little easier.
Ranked No. 16 in the country, Bonilla-Bowman is an aggressive wrestler. Just last week he posted a major decision over Missouri’s Patrick Wright, 21-10. In other words, he’s not exactly the guy you want to line up against when injured.
“You’re prone to get hurt as you get tired … and Bonilla-Bowman is going to get you tired no matter what,” Eiter said.
Although his injury has sidelined him for a chunk of his senior year, Dragon has prepared himself enough mentally to deal with frustration.
“I can only control for the variables that I can control for,” Dragon said. “I can’t control for any more injuries.”
And despite the fact that a forfeit at the 157-pound weightclass will put the Quakers in an early hole, Eiter said there will be a number of winnable matches.
The amount of injuries to the Pride has shaken up their lineup, and some of their wrestlers have struggled in new roles. Junior No. 20 Scott Giffin (174) should be able to control his match against Patrovich’s replacement, Jon Rothman, who is just 2-11 this season.
Meanwhile, junior Bryan Ortenzio (133) and freshman Micah Burak (197) are also slated for favorable matchups, as their opponents have a paltry combined 9-29 record this season.
Things will be tougher for Burak’s older brother Gabe (165), who is set for a rematch against the Pride’s P.J. Gillespie. The two squared off in the seventh-place match at the Southern Scuffle earlier this season, with Gabe edging Gillespie in a low-scoring 3-1 affair.
While Gillespie will be sure to make some adjustments this time around, the elder Burak has been working on a few technical aspects of his own.
Ever the strategist, Gabe was unwilling to divulge just exactly what he has been working on.
“I’d rather not say,” he replied with a smile.
It looks like Hofstra will be first to find out what tricks the Penn wrestler has up his sleeve.Comments powered by Disqus
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