The transition from high school to college sports takes some time for most athletes. Luckily for the Quakers, Anthony Artalona was ready from the first whistle.
The freshman was the only Penn wrestler to place in the top four of his weight class at Saturday’s Michigan State Open, winning all four of his matches to take home first place at 149 pounds.
On a successful day for Penn’s rookies where all nine freshmen competing won at least one match, Artalona led the way and showed signs of a bright future ahead.
The four-time state champion from Seffner, Fla. is just one piece of coach Roger Reina’s highly-coveted recruiting class this year, and he wasted no time making an impact on the mat.
Competing in the tougher Open Division against wrestlers from all four years, he came ready to hold his own against older opposition. In his first ever match for the Red and Blue, he defeated Breyden Bailey of Indiana 21-4 by technical fall. His offensive prowess continued in the second round, where he faced A.J. Jaffe of Harvard, a two-time All-Ivy wrestler, and won 9-3.
In the semifinals and finals, Artalona's opponents came closer but ultimately could not best him. He took down McCoy Kent of Northern Illinois 6-3 to advance to the final, where with everything on the line he held onto an early lead and beat Ben Lamantia of Michigan by the same 6-3 scoreline.
Despite wrestling three juniors to close out his path to the title, the freshman found a way not just to win, but win convincingly all four times. This week’s DP Sports Player of the Week is one more reason Penn wrestling has high hopes for the future.