Following a narrow defeat against Stanford last week, Penn men's wrestling went head-to-head with Columbia this week, where the team triumphed with an overwhelming 31-3 victory.
The day began with the Red and Blue trailing 3-0 in the 125-pound category. However, in the subsequent 133-pound match, senior Michael Colaiocco delivered a spectacular performance. Colaiocco took control of the match where he consistently shot at his opponent, resulting in numerous takedowns. Colaiocco dominated with an impressive 19-5 major decision victory, propelling the Quakers to a 5-3 lead. This performance ultimately shifted the momentum in favor of the Quakers for the rest of the meet.
“Momentum is big, and in wrestling, I think it’s really tough to reverse that momentum,” said sophomore Kaya Sement. “I think we did a good job of keeping it. The energy from the bench, the energy from our guys behind our bench was really high, which is definitely a factor that keeps that momentum going.”
With the lead in hand, the Red and Blue capitalized with consecutive victories in the 141, 149, 157, and 165-pound classes. In a particularly narrow match, sophomore Andy Troczynski pulled out a stellar performance, especially in the final period. Dominating in the last 45 seconds with multiple takedowns, he clinched a major decision victory. Senior Lucas Revano continued this trend of dominance, securing a win by a major decision in his match.
“We all came out on the mat and stepped on the gas and kept the gas pedal down. We showed that in the third period, especially today across the lineup. We were pushing the pace,” said senior Cole Urbas.
Following the intermission, the Quakers maintained their relentless pace, coming out victorious in the 165, 174, 184-, 197, and 285-pound classes. These matches were intense but the Quakers consistently overpowered the Lions, notching takedown after takedown after takedown. Notably, Columbia managed only a single takedown, which came early in the 285-pound match. However, senior John Stout responded immediately with a takedown of his own, and in the final period, he secured the Red and Blue's victory over the Lions with yet another takedown, extending the narrow decision to a major decision victory.
Sement reflects on last week’s defeat to Stanford. “Coming off the loss from Stanford, we had high expectations for that [meet], but it was kind of a salty finish to the dual, but I think we did a good job of channeling that towards this week,” Sement said. He added, “[w]e got physical in the room, training hard. We competed with grit, and I think we smelled blood with that team. They were tough in the first period, but we did a good job of wrestling the match.”
Urbas echoed these sentiments, saying, “[i]t’s just focusing on the task ahead of you. I know we’ve been bringing the intensity all season, especially this week. We were raising the intensity in the practice room and we’re on a mission right now, just focusing on the next match, and bringing everything we have to reach our full potential.”