Penn wrestling had a case of the Sunday blues.
The Quakers ended their dual meet season on Sunday in Bethlehem, Pa., hoping to steal a win away from No. 20 Lehigh. However, the Mountain Hawks proved too much for the Red and Blue and handed them a decisive 34-6 defeat.
Penn (5-9, 3-8 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) started out strong going back and forth with Lehigh (8-9, 5-1), the defending EIWA champion. It appeared to be either team’s match early on, as the two squads exchanged points in the opening bouts. The Mountain Hawks pulled away going into halftime with a 9-6 lead and never looked back as the Quakers were unable to register another team point.
Two of Penn's wrestlers were able to walk away with wins on Sunday. Freshmen sensations Carmen Ferrante and Anthony Artalona, who are ranked No. 29 and No. 15 in their weight classes, respectively, were able to find success at 125 and 149 pounds.
“I thought we went out there and, particularly in the first six weight [classes], competed exceptionally hard — we won two of them with Carmen Ferrante and Anthony Artalona," coach Roger Reina said. "Those guys in particular represented themselves really well."
Ferrante was able to seize a tight win against Lehigh freshman Luke Resnick. Resnick started the match with a quick takedown, but Ferrante was quickly able to escape. Ferrante then equaled Resnick with a takedown of his own, but similarly gave up an escape point. The match would stay tied at 3-3 until Ferrante was able to gain an extra point of riding time in the final period to secure a 4-3 victory. His win gave the Red and Blue an early 3-0 lead.
“In Carmen’s match, he needed to be more offensive on his feet today, and he needs to take that lesson into the conference tournament and make sure we're going out and scoring in the first 30 seconds of every match and really dictating the offense," Reina said.
The contest at 149 pounds was tight as well, with Artalona able to grab a win over No. 25 Cortlandt Schuyler in a tiebreaker. The match was special in that it was the only one of the day to feature two wrestlers ranked in the NCAA Coaches Poll.
After a scoreless first period, Artalona elected to start the second on the bottom, which allowed him to take a 1-0 lead from an escape point. Artalona was unable to keep the lead as Schuyler was able to secure a takedown and seize a 2-1 lead.
The freshman was able to escape with about 14 seconds left in the second period, tying the score at 2-2. Schuyler started the third period with an escape point to take a 3-2 lead, but it didn’t last long after a controversial takedown from Artalona to give him a 4-3 advantage. Schuyler was then able to escape within seconds to even the score at 4-4.
In the overtime, neither wrestler was able to convert, pushing the match to a tiebreaker, where Artalona was able to use an escape point to come up with a crucial 5-4 victory. His win evened the team score at six early in the meet.
“Anthony was in on several good attempts and good attacks early, and he missed some finishes on really good offensive attacks," Reina said. "I think in his case, working on finishing some of those shots [could] end up making that match not a close one. So we need to extend our margin of victory over those opponents."
After Artalona's win, the Quakers were unable to pick up another point. The Mountain Hawks went on a 28-0 run to come away victorious and picked up 18 points in the final three matches, all from pinning Penn wrestlers.
“I am really proud of our guys," Reina said. "Starting as many first-year starters as we did throughout the course of the season can be really challenging, but I think our guys have responded well and I think we have gained a tremendous amount of experience along the way."
The Quakers will now enter a two-week training stint, as they hope to break out of their Sunday blues for a better showing at the EIWA championships in Vestal, N.Y. starting on March 8.