Different year, same result.
For the second straight year at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships, the Quakers had two wrestlers make the finals. But as in 2010, neither could take home the title. As a team, Penn finished fifth at this weekend’s championships, hosted by Bucknell.
After sneaking by Princeton’s Garret Frey in the 125-pounds semifinals on Saturday afternoon, junior Mark Rappo faced a familiar foe in Cornell’s Frank Perelli. On Feb. 11 when the Quakers traveled to Ithaca, Rappo held a narrow lead going into the third period, but ultimately lost to Perelli.
On Sunday afternoon Rappo was up 4-3 late in the third, but with 37 seconds left Perelli managed a takedown that propelled him to a 6-4 win.
“I just pressed in too hard, I did feel [the move], but I didn’t react to it,” Rappo said. “He just ducked under me and came around.”
“I just pressed too hard and it backfired on me,” he added.
Penn’s second finalist, 197-pound Micah Burak, coasted through the first two rounds with 6-0 and 10-2 scores. After reaching the finals, Burak found himself facing national No. 1 Cam Simaz, also of Cornell.
A scoreless first and second period set up a winner-take-all showdown in the third. Simaz started down, and scored a quick escape, and although Burak came close to scoring on multiple occasions, Burak never managed to secure the match-tying point.
The two second-place finishes highlighted the weekend for the Red and Blue at Sojka Pavilion. Three other Quakers placed within the top five and guaranteed themselves a chance to wrestle in two weeks at the NCAA Championships at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.
Fifth-year senior Rollie Peterkin, who entered the tournament as the third seed, advanced to the semifinals where he met freshman Frank Cagnina of Lehigh.
The match proved to be one of the most entertaining of the tournament with Peterkin holding a 1-0 edge late into the third period before Cagnina scored a takedown. Peterkin held a minute of riding time advantage and the match entered overtime tied 2-2. In the sudden victory session, Cagnina scored a takedown and two back points to claim the match.
Peterkin bounced back to finish the tournament on a strong note defeating Princeton’s Tony Communale with a 19-3 technical fall, and claim an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
Another pair of third-place finishes by seniors Zach Kemmerer and Gabe Burak earned the pair automatic bids.
Penn’s only remaining question for the NCAA tournament is fifth-year senior Scott Giffin. Battling knee and shoulder injuries throughout the tournament, Giffin lost in the second round, but managed to secure two wins in wrestlebacks before bowing out in sixth place.
The NCAA has allotted the EIWA five automatic qualifying spots for the 174-pound weight class at the NCAA tournament, meaning that Giffin — who placed seventh at last year’s NCAA championships — would need to be selected by the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee.
The Committee, which announces its decision on Mar. 9, will base their decision on head-to-head competition, quality wins, results against common opponents, winning percentage, RPI, coaches ranking and the number of matches contested at that weight class
But for now the Quakers who know they will compete at the NCAA Championships must look ahead two weekends from now and prepare to face the best from across the country.
“At this point it’s just going into the matches confident,” Rappo said. “I have all the tools and if I have a perfect match I can beat anybody in the country.”
“A lot of my friends and family will be there. Being from Philadelphia I will have a lot of hometown support.”
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