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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

While most students take winter break as an opportunity to relax, Penn's wrestlers kept up their work on the mats.

The Quakers traveled over 800 miles to Hoffman Estates, Ill. to compete in the Midlands Championships, one of the premier tournaments in collegiate wrestling. 

Three freshmen were in contention for a podium finish after the first day, as No. 10 seed Carmen Ferrante along with Doug Zapf and Jake Hendricks all moved on to the tournament's second day before falling in the Round of 12. 

Eleven of Penn’s 18 wrestlers secured at least one win, and four freshmen and four others grabbed their first career Midlands wins. Overall, the Red and Blue finished 17th out of a highly competitive 48 team field with 28 team points. 

Ferrante reached the quarterfinals with three wins in the first session. In the first and second rounds, Ferrante defeated both Robert Garcia of Fresno State and Nic Aguilar of Rutgers by an identical 10-3 score.

Competing at 125 pounds, he triumphed over Kyle Biscoglia of Northern Iowa by a score of 12-2 to advance to the quarterfinals, where he clashed with No. 2 seed Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern, ultimately falling 19-3. On the tournament's second day, Ferrante faced Elijah Oliver of Indiana in the Round of 12, but was taken down early and could not bounce back in a tight 3-2 loss.

Zapf started off day one with a first-round bye in the 133 pound bracket. He pulled off a pair of upsets in both the second and third rounds, beating both No. 7 seed Yoshi Funakoshi from Cal Poly and No. 10 seed Jen Lantz from Wisconsin by a pair of 3-1 results.

Like Ferrante, Zapf eventually fell short in the quarterfinals against his No.2 seed, this time Austin DeSanto of Iowa. Although he lost by a score of 13-3, he too advanced to the Round of 12, where he fell to No. 9 seed Josiah Kline of Arizona. Despite scoring first, Zapf could not keep up the offense and lost 10-2. 

Hendricks went 2-1 on the first day of the Midlands in the 174 pound bracket. After opening the day with a 10-1 loss to No.13 seed Clay Lautt of North Carolina, he made his way through the consolation bracket with wins over Central Michigan’s Colin Lieber and Chicago’s Kyle Peisker with a combined score of 15-10 to secure a match on the tournament's second day.

However, Hendricks would continue the trend of falling in the Round of 12. Similarly to Zapf, Hendricks had the early lead in his match after a takedown of No. 9 seed Willie Scott of Rutgers, but Scott roared back in the third period to clinch a 3-2 win.

Fellow freshman Anthony Artalona, already moving into the national rankings and coming into the tournament as the No. 7 seed, earned two early wins before falling in the third round to Brayton Lee of Minnesota by a 5-3 score. However, he was forced to forfeit his following match due to medical reasons.

Always looking to improve, the Red and Blue will seek another team win when they return to dual meets and face off against Duke on Sunday in Durham, N.C.