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Freshman Carmen Ferrante was among three Penn wrestling freshmen to advance to the Round of 12 at this year's Midlands Championships.

Credit: Nicole Fridling

Penn wrestling will compete both on the road and at home in two tough matches to open its dual-meet season this weekend. 

The Quakers first travel to New Jersey on Thursday to compete against Rider at 7pm. Then, on Sunday, at 4pm, Penn welcomes Maryland to the Palestra for a second match.

After starting the year with strong results at the Michigan State Open and the Keystone Classic at home, Penn is looking to continue its momentum in the upcoming slate.

“[The home meet with Maryland] is a really big deal for our program right now. It’s a home opener with a lot of returning guys who are new to the starting lineup. And we’ve got a lot of freshman who are going to be in the starting lineup,” coach Roger Reina said. "I think that it’s going to be a very competitive meet on Sunday in the Palestra.”

In recent history, Penn has struggled against Rider, dropping its past four matches.

Freshman Anthony Artalona (8-1), Penn’s top-ranked wrestler at No. 20 in the nation according to Intermat, is set to compete against Evan Fidelibus (4-3) in the 149 lb class. Artalona grappled with some of the countries best wrestlers at the Keystone Classic, placing third overall on the heel of a first place finish at the Michigan State Open. 

“The mental preparation for this week is a little different,” Artalona said, “because you’re not preparing for a five or six match grind… you’re ready for one match, wrestle smart, no mistakes, and know when to score bonus points.”

Another match to watch is the 125-pound weight class between freshman Carmen Ferrante (7-3) and Rider's Jonathan Tropea (8-1). They faced off most recently at the Keystone Classic in a match Tropea ultimately won. But the two have a history of competing even before college. 

“I don’t think there’s more of an edge [having just wrestled Tropea] than any other match. Both guys are preparing for each other and they’re both going to be ready to wrestle. So I just have to have faith in my preparation, and just go out there and have some fun,” Ferrante said.

On Sunday, the team faces an old rival, Maryland, a team the Quakers haven’t competed against in five years. 

Another freshman from this year's stellar recruiting class, Grant Aronoff (3-2), wrestling in the 141-pound weight class, expects to face off against Maryland's Michael Doetsch (5-1). Aronoff was ranked No. 39 in the class of 2018 by Intermat, and in the Keystone classic, he defeated Rider's Travis Layton, who he'll likely compete against again in the two teams' dual meet. 

Aside from the freshmen mentioned above, six freshmen in total could start both of the Quaker's meets this week. With sophomore 165-pound wrestler Evan Deluise set to make his third and fourth career starts, many new faces will carry the Red and Blue forward as they begin dual meet season.