Another top-five team is set to enter the Palestra, and the Quakers are ready.
This Sunday at 1 P.M., Penn wrestling will host No. 5 Lehigh, a match that will test how well the Red and Blue can perform against a top-notch team, both on the individual and team level.
The Quakers (3-1) are currently on a hot streak after last weekend, which began with a narrow 19-15 defeat to No. 22 Rider on Friday before ending on a high note with a three-match sweep at the Hofstra duals on Sunday.
Penn recorded wins over Campbell, The Citadel, and hosts Hofstra by a combined margin of 85-33, recording three pins in the process. Five Quakers also went undefeated on the day, a testament to the mental and physical stamina they must have to perform on such a level all day long.
On the other side of the mat, the Mountain Hawks (4-1) are a formidable opponent. They have already made waves this season, notching impressive wins over two ranked opponents in No. 9 Michigan and No. 23 Edinboro.
Their wins haven’t been too close, either. With an average margin of victory of nearly 20 points in their four victories, Lehigh has proven itself to be a consistent, powerful force on the national collegiate wrestling stage.
The only loss the Mountain Hawks have suffered so far came at the hands of No. 1 Penn State, a team whose wrestlers some Quakers faced earlier this season at the Keystone Classic. Even still, Lehigh pushed the Nittany Lions to the brink and nearly pulled off the upset, falling just short by a score of 23-19.
On Sunday, however, there are some marquee matchups to look out for.
At 133 pounds, Penn’s breakout freshman Gianni Ghione has transitioned seamlessly onto the college level, earning three pins already, the team’s second-highest total. He will likely face off against Lehigh’s Scott Parker, who pinned his Penn State opponent and is currently 8-0 on the season.
At 165 pounds, the Quakers have two options. Senior May Bethea has two top-three finishes at tournaments early this season under his belt, but in the Hofstra duals, senior Joe Velliquette stepped up and wrestled up from his usual 157 pounds in Bethea’s place, recording one pin and two losses.
Whoever head coach Roger Reina chooses to get the start here will probably wrestle Lehigh’s Gordon Wolf, another winner over Penn State's Bo Pipher.
At 197 pounds is Penn’s standout and Binghamton Open champion Frank Mattiace. After reaching the NCAA tournament last year, the senior has made light work of his opponents this season, registering a record of 8-1 and a team-high four pins.
He will most likely take on Lehigh’s Jake Jakobsen, who fell to Penn State’s Anthony Cassar in the dual meet. Cassar is the same wrestler who is responsible for Mattiace’s only loss this season, after a narrow 7-4 match in the 197-lb championship at the Keystone Classic.
While these are some of the top head-to-heads to look forward to this weekend, every match will have an impact on the final outcome.
When the Mountain Hawks come to Philadelphia, Penn will not go down without a fight.
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