Much is made of the ever-present Penn-Princeton athletic feud.
But there is another Ivy League foe with whom the Quakers wrestling team has an even bigger beef.
In recent years, Cornell has dominated the Ivy League wrestling landscape, and the boys from Ithaca have become the largest obstacle standing between the Red and Blue and league supremacy.
This season’s match will be no different when Penn (9-4, 3-0 Ivy) travels to upstate New York to battle the No. 1 Big Red (9-1, 1-0) tonight.
The Quakers roll in on a three-match winning streak, looking to avenge previous losses at the hands of Cornell.
“This is a good measure of where we stand in the conference and in the NCAA,” senior Rollie Peterkin said. “We both have many ranked guys, so it will show how well we can fare against the highest competition.”
The native of Wellesley, Mass., is certainly right about the number of ranked wrestlers on each squad — Penn has five and Cornell has eight.
But among all the stellar matchups in the works, one stands out.
Peterkin, who is ranked No. 5 nationally at 133 pounds and boasts a 22-2 season record, will face No. 6 Mike Grey, who has been hampered by injury and has competed in just four — albeit victorious — matches so far this year.
But, as Peterkin points out, lack of season experience means little to nothing when considering a wrestler of Grey’s caliber.
“He is a tough competitor, and I will have to wrestle hard no matter what,” Peterkin said.
And Peterkin certainly knows about tough competitors from Cornell.
Former national champion Troy Nickerson was a perennial barrier between Peterkin and an Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association crown.
Nickerson may be gone, but the Big Red are just as fierce.
“I think it’s awesome to have a team that good so close to us in the conference and the league,” Peterkin said.
“The season has gone well, but that doesn’t matter come nationals,” he added. “It is almost a whole new season starting now.”
That new season starts Friday and continues Saturday afternoon when the Red and Blue look to take a bite out of the Big Apple as they head to Columbia, (6-5, 0-1).
The Lions are hardly as intimidating as the Big Red but are an important stepping stone nonetheless.
And yet, it is hard not to notice the elephant that is the NCAA championships, which will be held in Philadelphia this year.
“I expect Penn to do much better than people expect us to, and I think we have made huge strides as a team,” Peterkin said.
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