Coming off three straight January losses, the Lehigh wrestling squad was in danger of letting its season slip out of control.
Three takedowns later, junior All-American Zach Rey topped off a gritty team effort and put a resounding exclamation point on a victory over then-undefeated No. 1 Cornell.
The Jan. 20 win against the Big Red demonstrated Lehigh’s ability to win its favored matchups.
Nearly a month later, the No. 18 Penn wrestling team (10-5) can use a similar formula to turn the tables on the Mountain Hawks.
And the Quakers will need to display the same determination if they hope to pull off an upset Sunday afternoon against No. 10 Lehigh (14-6) in Leeman-Turner Arena.
Although coach Rob Eiter was “pleased with the effort” the Quakers exhibited in last weekend’s 28-9 loss to Cornell, the Red and Blue will have to do more to take down Lehigh.
The lack of consistent performances by the squad has hampered the team’s success. The Quakers have yet to put together a string of strong matches where every wrestler pulls his own weight.
“We’re kind of an up-and-down team, and we’ve talked about consistency the whole year,” Eiter said. “Hopefully [we will win] our match against Lehigh. We always wrestle them well. It’s been almost a week off so we’ve had plenty of time to recover and get back on our feet again.”
Consistency will be the mantra as the Quakers will need an all-around performance to topple a Mountain Hawks team that has thus far lost to only one unranked team and finished third in one of the nation’s premier tournaments, the Midlands Championships.
Leading the team is none other than Rey, who finished third last year at the NCAA tournament and third-year sophomore Robert Hamlin at 184 pounds.
But the match’s pivotal battles will come at opposite ends of the scale. No. 5 sophomore Micah Burak faces a particularly tricky ranked matchup against No. 19 Joe Kennedy at 197 pounds. Burak upset the Lehigh junior last year as a freshman.
The second bout of intrigue will be at 133 pounds, where true freshman Frank Cagnina — who is 15-3 this year — will take on Penn’s fifth-year senior Rollie Peterkin. Although Peterkin is the favorite, the freshman is only one spot behind Peterkin in the EIWA rankings.
In order to pull a similar upset, the Quakers need to replicate Lehigh’s magnificence against Cornell and win favored matches while scoring bonus points with a major decision or fall when possible.
The recipe worked to perfection for Lehigh as they split the 10 matches with Cornell but picked up two major decisions, which come with four points instead of the traditional three from a decision.
Penn has the depth to compete and will be favored on paper in six of the 10 matchups, as the team looks to close its final dual meet of the season on top.Comments powered by Disqus
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