You can’t achieve greatness without a bit of humility, and Penn wrestling picked up its fair share of the latter this weekend.
In their opening dual meet of the season, the undermanned Quakers were outmatched by a strong Rider team, losing seven of ten individual matches en route to a thorough 32-10 defeat at the hands of the Broncs.
The afternoon got off to an ominous start for the Red and Blue (0-1), as defending EIWA quarterfinalist Jeremy Schwartz was unable to go in the 125-pound weight class, resulting in a forfeiture and an immediate six-point deficit which Penn couldn’t overcome.
Defending NCAA Championships qualifier Caleb Richardson was also unavailable for Penn at 133 pounds, leading to a Penn personnel slightly different than the one ranked 23rd nationally by InterMat entering the contest.
But despite the injury concerns, there were certainly some bright spots in the loss, perhaps none more notable than the continued emergence of junior Joe Oliva. After only winning six total matches in 2015-16, Oliva broke out with a 3-0 performance at last week’s Journeyman Tussle, and he continued his stellar season with an 8-2 win over Rider’s Jesse Rodgers to secure Penn’s first win of the contest.
When defending NCAAs qualifier May Bethea took care of business at 157 pounds, Penn had cut the deficit to only nine points, but the unranked Rider (2-0) squad would proceed to take back the momentum and clinch the upset by winning each of the next two weight classes.
With the overall result of the match already settled, though, there was still time for 2016 All-American Casey Kent to make his mark individually, and the senior came through with a 1-0 win at 184 pounds in what was only his second meet of the season. Having eased into competition shape after recovering from an offseason injury, Kent is now 4-0 on the year.
Perhaps the most anticipated match of the afternoon followed immediately afterwards, with a pair of nationally ranked grapplers going at it in No. 12 Ryan Wolfe of Rider and No. 17 Frank Mattiace of Penn in the 197-pound weight class. But unfortunately for the Red and Blue, the chalk would hold in that high-profile matchup, with Wolfe taking a 5-2 decision to drop Mattiace to 10-4 on the year.
With final exams and the holiday season coming up, Penn will get a much-needed three-week break to recover, with the team’s next competition coming on New Year’s Day at the Southern Scuffle in Tennessee.
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