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Freshman Neil Antrassian stepped up at 165 pounds in his first dual match for Penn wrestling against Army this weekend.

Credit: Alec Druggan

Penn wrestling was looking to break out of its slump this weekend, but a pair of dual meets against Binghamton and Army proved to be too much. 

The Quakers dropped both matches this weekend, first to Binghamton on Friday by a score of 24-12 and then to Army on Sunday,  28-10.

The Red and Blue (1-5, 0-4 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) came up short in Vestal, N.Y. in a close match that went back and forth on Friday night. It appeared to be either team’s match when the score was tied, 12-12, but Binghamton (2-3, 2-1) ran away in the final three bouts. 

Three of Penn’s wrestlers were able to walk away with a win on Friday night. Senior Patrik Garren won at 197 pounds by a score of 13-7. Additionally, freshmen Carmen Ferrante and Anthony Artalona came away victorious at 125 and 149 pounds, respectively. 

It seemed like déjà vu on Sunday against Army (5-2, 5-0) in the Palestra, as the match was kept close until halfway through. The two teams were tied, 10-10, but the Quakers were unable to register another team point in the match. However, Ferrante and Artalona were able to find success and came away with wins. 

Coach Roger Reina felt that his team did not perform to its potential on Friday night but thought his team did a better job against Army on Sunday. 

“I think we were really flat Friday night at Binghamton. It was a really disappointing performance," he said. "We talked about our mental preparation for competition, and this was a much tougher team here today, Army, than we faced up at Binghamton on Friday night. Regardless of the score, we came in to compete much better today."

Reina also felt promise for the future of #TheMovement with freshmen Neil Antrassian and Greg Bensley stepping in for starters Garren and sophomore Evan DeLuise during the Army meet. 

“We had a couple starters out," Reina said. "We had two freshmen step in there in Neil Antrassian and Greg Bensley at 165 and 197, respectively, and I thought they both did a really good job. They both wrestled national caliber opponents."

Ferrante continued to showcase excellence on the mat, as he defeated Binghamton’s Audey Ashkar by a score of 5-1 and Army’s Trey Chalifoux, who had to leave the match with an apparent hamstring injury midway through the second. At the time of the injury, Ferrante was leading, 7-0. 

“The coaching staff set me up with really good ways to have success, whether it be technique or the training regimen we are on," Ferrante said. "I think that they have really set us up to have success on the mat."

Artalona continued his success this weekend as well. On Friday, he defeated Binghamton’s Frankie Garcia by fall at the 4:15 mark after leading the match, 9-0. On Sunday, he defeated Army’s Noah Hanau by major decision and a score of 13-3. 

Coach Reina believes that both Ferrante’s and Artalona’s success is coming from the work that they are putting in, which is displaying itself in the matches. 

“They have a great competitive spirit, and to me they are guys who are really buying in to the technical priorities that we are working on," Reina said. "I would also say that they are guys that put in extra conditioning work, they put in extra technical work. They are putting in extra work consistently, and that is leading even better results.”

However, the Quakers didn't come away with any team wins this weekend, which Ferrante believes came down to the ability to fight on the mat. 

“I think that there has got to be a little bit more urgency and fight on the mat, to be honest. I really don’t think the technique is far off. I don’t think these guys are way better than us. I think it comes down to willingness to fight a little harder,” Ferrante said. 

The Quakers will now head into a two-week training period, when they will work harder and pick up their intensity as they open up Ivy play on Feb. 2 against Brown at the Palestra.