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The quakers wrestled poorly against Virginia this past Sunday Junior Bryan Ortenzio tied the match with a 7-1 decision over Matt Cubillos. Credit: Joe Ovelman

When it faces Pittsburgh and Clarion tomorrow on the road, the Penn wrestling team will see some familiar faces.

Against the No. 23 Panthers (11-1-1), the Quakers (4-3) will go up against many of the same wrestlers that they upset in a 20-16 victory last year when the Panthers were ranked 24th.

In fact, junior Bryan Ortenzio is slated to have a rematch against Pitt’s Jimmy Conroy, who was No. 17 in the 133-pound weightclass in 2009 when he defeated Ortenzio, 4-1. This time around, however, figures to be different according to the junior, especially since Conroy is not currently ranked.

“In this match, I’ll just … use my conditioning to my advantage, which is a lot better than it was last year, and really push the pace of the match and get him tired out,” Ortenzio said.

A new strategy, plus the added motivation of revenge, may be enough for Ortenzio, who is riding a hot streak of four-straight dual match victories along with a fourth-place finish in the Southern Scuffle.

Other notable matchups include another rematch from last year — between junior Zack Kemmerer and No. 18 Tyler Nauman at 141 — as well as a major test for Tyler Blakely who will face the nation’s No. 7 Ryan Tomei (285).

And despite the fact that freshman Micah Burak — ranked No. 19 in the 197-pound weightclass — wasn’t a part of last year’s event, he too will face a familiar foe in Pitt’s No. 18 Matt Wilps, whom he lost to about seven weeks ago in the Nittany Lion Open. Since dropping that match, Burak has gained experience, and just two weeks ago he defeated Rider’s No. 20 Tyler Smith. For Burak, doing the little things to help prepare himself will be important.

But missing the rematch against the Panthers will be some of Penn’s top wrestlers, including senior co-captains No. 12 Cesar Grajales (149) and No. 16 Matt Dragon (157), who will continue to be sidelined with injuries. While coach Rob Eiter hopes to have Grajales back for next weekend’s match against Hofstra, Dragon’s injury will most likely take more time.

In the second match tomorrow, it will be Eiter who is familiar with the opponent. He was an assistant coach at Clarion from 1993-98, before he moved on to a successful tenure as an assistant at Northwestern and eventually in Philadelphia.

For Eiter, the added bonus of reuniting with some old friends makes this match particularly intriguing.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “I’m excited and I’m glad we were able to schedule it.”

Even though the matches against the Golden Eagles (2-4)may not be as flashy as the ones against Pitt, they should not be overlooked by any stretch. Clarion recently gave No. 22 Edinboro a scare in a dual meet after taking four of the first five matches en route to a 13-3 lead before ultimately falling 25-13.

“My guys can’t take Pitt or Clarion lightly,” Eiter said.

And as a former coach of the Golden Eagles, he should know.

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