It’s finally showtime for Penn wrestling.
The deep and talented Quakers squad, which is surrounded by high expectations, will kick off the 2013 season this weekend.
Penn will take on a tough Maryland team for an early duel on Friday before hosting the 19th annual Keystone Classic on Sunday at the Palestra.
Maryland, which had been ranked No. 22, recently fell out of the top 25 after a loss to Stanford.
The Quakers last faced the Terps in 2011, a matchup that Penn lost, 15-21.
Maryland is especially strong in the higher weight classes this season. The Terps’ wrestlers at the top three classes are all ranked in the top ten within their respective divisions.
Perhaps the most interesting weight class for Penn entering the season is the 141-pound division.
There is exciting competition at the spot, which features two juniors who made a name for themselves last season, C.J. Cobb and Jeff Canfora .
Cobb, a captain, won the Keystone and was a runner-up at the EIWA championships in the 141-pound weight class last season, while Canfora, who is looking to move up a class, was named first team All-Ivy in the 133-pound bracket.
Cobb is currently making his way back from a knee injury, so Canfora, who finished 5th at the ESU Open, will be the man for the Quakers in the 141-pound class against Maryland on Friday.
Another intriguing Friday matchup comes in the 184-pound division, as 11th-ranked Penn junior Lorenzo Thomas faces All-American senior Jimmy Sheptock , who is ranked second in his class.
“The big match on paper [is] at 184 pounds,” coach Rob Eiter said. “That’s gonna be a huge test for Lorenzo.”
The Red and Blue are also looking for their freshmen to make an early impact, as three first-year wrestlers are slated for this weekend’s lineup.
“The young guys had an awesome preseason,” Eiter said. “As a staff, we’re super impressed with our freshmen.”
The 125 pound class features a competition between Penn freshmen Caleb Richardson and Jeremy Schwartz .
Rounding out the newcomers will be Ken Bade at 133 pounds and Frank Mattiace at 197 pounds.
After what is sure to be a competitive and intense duel at College Park on Friday, Penn will quickly turn around and set its sights on the Keystone Classic.
Eight teams will join Penn at the event on Sunday at the Palestra, including No. 13 Pittsburgh, No. 18 Northwestern and No. 22 Rider.
The Quakers, who finished second as a team in the tournament last year, will look to compete early on with some of the top programs in the nation.
“This is probably the toughest preseason tournament in the country right now,” Eiter said. “We actually have some matchups that could be NCAA finals. This is a good way to measure where we’re at.
“If you want to be the best, you’ve got to wrestle the best.”
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