When senior wrestler Scott Giffin returned to the mat this past weekend, the All-American showed he still has it.
“I wanted to prove to [my teammates] ... that I’m still here,” he said. “I’m still part of the team and going to finish out strong.”
Giffin — who last wrestled against Rider on Dec. 12 — had a triumphant return from injury, taking his first two bouts via major decision victories and picking up a forfeit win against Princeton.
The Quakers (9-4, 3-0 Ivy) shared his success, topping Princeton (4-9, 1-2 Ivy) on Sunday, 37-10, after easily handling Brown (0-9, 0-2) and Harvard (2-10, 1-1) the day before.
Penn did not drop a single match to Brown in the 35-0 shutout and beat Harvard, 35-7.
“This is a good weekend for us to prepare for a pretty tough end of the season,” coach Rob Eiter said.
But Eiter also thought the team left some points on the mat despite their huge margins of victory.
Still, Eiter was pleased with Giffin’s performance in his return.
“These past few weeks, I’ve been really antsy and wanted to get back out there,” Giffin said. “And finally, it felt good to let things loose again.”
He showed no lingering effects from the time off besides a large brace on his left shoulder.
“These are good matches where he can work on technique and figure out what he can and can’t do,” Eiter said. “His conditioning is improving every time. It’s not the best right now, but from a confidence standpoint, he feels pretty strong right now.”
“I wanted to come back strong,” Giffin added. “And I think a lot of the guys wanted to see that I still had it, and I was still one of their captains and one of their leaders.”
No. 19 junior Mark Rappo had a huge win over Princeton’s No. 17 sophomore Garrett Frey at 125 pounds, 5-3.
Frey was also the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association’s top-ranked grappler at 125 heading into the match.
“[The win] is big in terms of seedings and standings, and he made nationals last year and I came up a bit short,” Rappo said.
“It’s good to see my improvement from last year to this year.
“I just wanted to go out and control the match, control the pace, and for the first two periods I did a good job doing that,” he continued. “Third period I kind of let up a little bit because I was up, but it’s a good win.”
No. 18 senior Gabe Burak and freshman Kyle Cowan scored pins against Princeton at 165 and heavyweight, respectively.
A day earlier, both Burak brothers scored pins for the Red and Blue against the Crimson.
Gabe was especially impressive as he fell behind early in the first period, 5-2, in what would have been the upset of the weekend. But he recovered in time to pin Harvard’s Bryan Panzano at 2:17 in the first.
After a relatively non-competitive weekend, the Quakers will be tested when they head to Ithaca for a meet this Friday against No. 1 Cornell.
“We’re going to be wrestling a top team in the country, so what else is there to lose?” Giffin said. “I know our guys are young but that doesn’t mean anything.”
“Fifth-year seniors all the way down to freshmen, we still have to go out and just wrestle,” he added. “We still put on our shoes the same way they do, and we’re the underdogs so we don’t have anything to lose.”
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