On its first Ivy road trip of the season, Penn found success at Harvard but struggled to find its bearings at Brown.
The Quakers won six bouts en route to a comfortable 23-12 win over the Crimson on Friday before the Bears upset them with some late heroics from the following afternoon, 18-16. The loss was the Quakers’ first to Brown in their last 22 meetings.
“Friday night was great,” coach Rob Eiter said. “Saturday, not so much.”
No. 13 Lorenzo Thomas, No. 17 Casey Kent and captain Andrew Lenzi were Penn’s (5-6, 1-2 Ivy) repeat winners on the trip.
After starting slowly in their two previous matches against Army and Cornell, the Red and Blue kicked off their Harvard (3-5, 0-3) dual with wins from freshmen Jeremy Schwartz and Ken Bade at 125 and 133 pounds, respectively.
Bade pinned his opponent, sophomore Jeff Ott, 1:28 into the bout, earning his third technical fall of the season and giving the Quakers a quick 9-0 lead.
The Red and Blue then strung together a sequence of three straight wins through the middle weights, which was capped off at 165 pounds by a dominating performance from Kent, who earned a fall in his 16-0 win over an inexperienced Brennan Smith. The victory marked Kent’s first against an Ivy League foe this season.
Up 20-3 after Kent’s victory, the Quakers held on for a 23-12 victory in Boston despite dropping three of the final four bouts.
Lorenzo Thomas, the lone late winner against Harvard, made the biggest statement for the Quakers the following day in a back-and-forth dual with Brown (2-6, 1-1)
Thomas, Penn’s highest-ranked wrestler, finally seized his first match against a ranked opponent, gutting out an 8-5 decision over No. 9 Ophir Bernstein.
“Lorenzo really wrestled well on Saturday, so that was real nice to see,” Eiter said. “It was a fun match to watch.”
Thomas’ triumph gave the Red and Blue a 16-9 lead over the Bears with two matches left, but this time, the Quakers could not hold on.
Penn’s 197-pound freshman Frank Mattiace was pinned the following match, cutting the Quakers’ lead to just one. Mattiace, who had won 10 of his first 12 bouts, is just 4-8 in his last 12 matches and has lost three straight.
The dual came down to the final period of the last match, where Ryan Cavey of Brown used a late surge against Penn heavyweight senior Steve Graziano to seize the match, 7-2, and the meet, 18-16.
With the exception of Thomas, Penn struggled in the upper weights. The Red and Blue failed to earn a victory at 174, 197 and 274 pounds over the weekend.
Penn’s best wrestlers, Kent and Thomas, submitted performances that proved the worthiness of their rankings. Their strong efforts should establish critical momentum for the final stretch before championship season.
Additionally, captain Andrew Lenzi, who struggled during the middle portion of the season, is a strong 3-1 since coming back from a knee injury in late January.
“This was a good weekend for [Andrew],” Eiter said. “He’s coming along, and he’ll hit his stride here in the next couple weeks.”
The Quakers will return to the Palestra on Saturday, Feb. 15, when they are set to take on Columbia.
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