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Senior Carmen Ferrante grapples with UNC's Lachlan McNeil during the team's meet in the Palestra on Jan. 7.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Penn wrestling entered the 2023 NCAA Division I Championships in Tulsa, Okla. with high hopes. Not all of those hopes were fulfilled in this year’s competition, but the team’s performance as a whole has shown that the program is trending in the right direction.

As the 19th ranked team in the country, Penn had eight of its 10 starters compete at the championships — the most out of all Ivy League and Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) teams. This marked the second year in a row in which Penn sent eight wrestlers to the championships. 

The eight Quakers who represented the Red and Blue this year were senior Anthony Artalona, senior Ben Goldin, senior Carmen Ferrante, senior Doug Zapf, junior Michael Colaiocco, junior Cole Urbas, sophomore Ryan Miller, and sophomore Nick Incontrera.

Of these eight, only Colaiocco won his first match where he managed to pin Missouri’s Connor Brown just 38 seconds into the first period. Despite losing their first matches, Goldin, Zapf, and Miller would also move on to Friday’s wrestling matches while Artalona, Ferrante, Urbas, and Incontrera’s seasons came to a close. 

“This is a tournament where the margins are very slim,” said coach Roger Reina. “We won some really gritty, tough matches and we lost some very close, winnable matches that kept us from going deeper into the tournament.”

Miller and Goldin both suffered close losses in the second consolation round to Michigan’s Jack Medley and SIU Edwardsville’s Colton McKiernan, respectively. Overall, the Quakers ended the tournament with 9.5 team points.

Zapf would start off his campaign in the consolation bracket on a very successful note, defeating the fifth-seed Iowa State’s Paniro Johnson in a 3-2 decision. However, Zapf also saw his year, and his Penn career, come to a close in the third consolation round, where he found himself on the wrong end of a 3-2 decision against Virginia Tech’s Caleb Henson. 

Colaiocco’s hunt to achieve All-American status came to an end on Friday with a loss to Lucas Byrd of Illinois in the third championship round and then a loss to Northern Iowa’s Kyle Biscoglia in the third consolation round. Despite this disappointment, Colaiocco walked away from the championships with a solid performance — earning 5.5 team points while also notching two wins by falls.

“I'm very proud of these guys,” said Reina. “We didn't hit all of our goals this year, but there's a great deal to be proud of.”

After two consecutive seasons where the Penn wrestling team has performed at a nationally competitive level, Reina is eager to see how the program will continue to develop. Key to the program’s success next year is the return of four of this year’s championship wrestlers — including Colaiocco, who will be hungry for more in his final season as a Quaker. Now that Penn has established itself as a competitor in the regular season, the team will be eager to achieve more postseason success as well. 

“We’re really appreciative of these seniors that have led the way thus far,” said Reina. “But now there's an opportunity for younger guys to step in and lead the next wave of the program. We are very excited about our future and our continued national climb.”