Wrestling for the first time since being named an All-American at March’s NCAA Championships, Penn’s Casey Kent coasted through Sunday’s Journeymen Tussle with a flawless 3-0 record. Six different members of the Red and Blue finished the day with winning records, as the tournament relied on round-robin matchups instead of the standard double elimination bracket.
“It’s just nicer to be at a tournament like this because you don’t have to wrestle all day,” Kent explained. “You don’t really approach it any differently — you just wrestle who you’ve got to wrestle.”
Joining Kent with a perfect 3-0 performance was junior Joe Velliquette, who won a pair of decisions at 165 pounds before finishing off the day with a fall against The Citadel’s Russ Hill.
“I think Joe did really well today,” Penn coach Alex Tirapelle said. “He’s been a guy who I think has the ability, has all the tools, it’s just a matter of putting it all together and believing in himself with consistency that he is that good.”
Junior Joe Oliva had the third and final perfect day for the Red and Blue, winning all three of his matches by decision.
No. 14 Frank Mattiace ended the day 2-1 at 197 pounds, winning 6-2 and 6-1 decisions before dropping his final match of the day, 7-6, to NC State’s Malik McDonald while Penn’s other remaining ranked grappler, No. 16 May Bethea, wrestled only twice, winning his first match 8-7 but losing in his second, 4-2.
Jalen Laughlin, a 197-pound freshman, came home with a 2-1 record, most impressively with an 8-0 decision over Brown’s Josh Durso-Finley, and 141-pounder AJ Vindici was the last of the Quakers’ winning records, going 2-1 on Sunday. He dropped only his first match of the day, 16-1, against No. 6 Kevin Jack of NC State.
Kent, ranked No. 3 at 174 pounds, returned to the mats after missing the Quakers’ first two tournaments of the year resting from nagging injuries. He was in good form right from the start, getting a fall against teammates Quinton Hiles in just 32 seconds. The reigning All-American didn’t concede a single point on the day, winning his remaining matches, 6-0 and 10-0, against Rutgers’ Jordan Pagano and Phil Bakuckas.
“I felt better than I thought I was going to feel,” Kent said. “I thought I was going to feel crappier, but I felt pretty good actually.”
“I think he did pretty well,” Tirapelle added. “Obviously not the best I’ve ever seen him wrestle, shaking off the rust a little bit ... but this was definitely a good first step in the right direction. He got some wins under his belt and I think the team benefits from his presence.”
Sunday marked the last tune-up for Penn before dual meet season heats up. First on tap for the Quakers is Rider, who the Red and Blue will pay a visit to this coming Saturday.
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