Studying engineering at a school like Penn is no easy feat by itself, but a select group of wrestlers somehow makes it work every year along with their time on the mat.
Penn wrestling has historically been closely tied to the School of Engineering and Applied Science, with a significant number of team members drawn to the rigorous yet well-renowned programs it offers.
Presently, the Red and Blue have 11 engineers out of a roster of 38, a much greater fraction than most other Penn teams. These student-athletes are not limited to a certain year either, with four freshmen, three sophomores, and four seniors — including Adam Kirsh, in a dual-degree program with Wharton — comprising wrestling's engineering contingent.
Some of the most talented members of the team happen to be among this group, including sophomore Anthony Artalona, who just last week was ranked No. 13 for the 157-pound weight class in the NCAA Division I Coaches Panel.
"The main part of balancing it is just enjoying the work," Artalona said. "I don't mind working many hours in the week to finish the work I need to do because I enjoy it."
Other engineers who have seen notable recent success for the Red and Blue are freshman Jake Stefanowicz and sophomore Jake Hendricks, each of whom picked up wins in Penn's most recent set of dual matches.
Brothers and teammates Carl and Neil Antrassian, a senior and sophomore, respectively, are also engineers on the team and bring a unique bond that helps bring the whole group closer.
"When I was a freshman, other members of the team were able to help me with my classes, so it's really great to have teammates that you can rely on to help," Neil said.
"It's nice to have people around you doing the hard stuff, too," Artalona agreed. "When you're working extra hard, you know they are as well, so it's nice to know you're not the only one."
The Penn wrestling-engineering connection is by no means a recent one. Program greats such as Class of 1999 graduate Andrei Rodzianko — in a dual-degree program with Wharton — and Class of 2002 graduate Rick Springman were also engineering students during their undergraduate careers.
In addition to being Penn's first-ever title winner at the Midlands Championship and an NCAA All-American, Rodzianko also received the Dr. Harry Fields Award for academic achievement in three of his four years, showcasing his dominance both inside and out of the classroom.
Springman will likewise be remembered for his success on and off the mat, as he captured an EIWA title in 2000 while also contributing to the Philadelphia spoken word scene during his time at Penn.
The tradition has continued to the present day, where the wrestling mat still remains a special place on campus for the tight-knit group bound by their academic passion.
But like all other student-athletes, how wrestling engineers balance their priorities all comes down to being organized with their schedules.
"One thing our coach stresses when we're freshmen and new to Penn is being efficient with your time," Neil said. "We don't have as much free time as other students because we have to come in here, watch film, and be on the road a lot, so you really have to make your time count."
While many aspects of the Penn wrestling roster have changed over the years — including the 2005 departure of coach Roger Reina before he returned three years ago — the consistent and impactful engineering class won't likely be shrinking anytime soon.
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