The Red and Blue faced three conference opponents in Bucknell, Binghamton, and Franklin & Marshall on Saturday, going 2-1 on the day. The three matches serve as a nice tune up for the fast-approaching conference tournament.
Experience certainly reigned supreme for Penn wrestling in their first conference dual against Army on Sunday, as Penn's senior wrestlers — Joe Olivia, Joe Velliquette, May Bethea, and Frank Mattiace — led the Quakers to their 19-18 victory on criteria.
Coming off a busy but successful winter break, the Quakers will look to keep improving as they head into the midpoint of their season. This weekend will be another wild one for the Quakers, as they have a tournament and back-to-back away meets over the course of two days.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Is Stat So?, a compilation of some of the most interesting stats to come out of Penn Athletics from the week. Each week, we'll highlight a few different numbers that go beyond the box score, and give deeper insight behind Penn's biggest wins and losses.
Penn wrestling's Frank Mattiace had himself an extremely successful winter break. Highlighted by his takedown of No. 6 Nate Robert, Mattiace's efforts were enough to earn him DP Sports Player of the Break.
The Quakers started their slate of matches before the new year when they travelled down to Illinois for the prestigious Ken Kraft Midlands Championships, where they finished with their best team score in 16 years. A week later, Penn travelled to the west coast for a dual meet double-header against Cal Poly and Stanford. There, they dominated Cal Poly 32-13 but lost a nail bitter to Stanford 21-20.
Injuries proved too much for Penn to overcome, as in just about every weight class of Sunday’s match, the Quakers were stymied by No. 5 Lehigh and fell by a score of 41-6. Although the Red and Blue (3-2) briefly held the lead at 6-5 after two bouts, Lehigh (5-1) scored 36 unanswered points to close out the match.
You could call them the Superior Six.
Seniors May Bethea, Joe Heyob, Marc Mastropietro, Frank Mattiace, Joe Oliva, and Joe Velliquette might not look like the most uniform group of guys. Their weights vary from 140 to 200 pounds and everywhere in between — and yet their uniformly strong leadership elevates them above the rest.
Another top-five team is set to enter the Palestra, and the Quakers are ready.
This Sunday at 1 P.M., Penn wrestling will host No. 5 Lehigh, a match that will test how well the Red and Blue can perform against a top-notch team, both on the individual and team level.
Coach Roger Reina has continuously spoken highly of the freshmen members of the team and their development throughout the early stages of the season and sees the potential for greatness in the upcoming years.
Because of these new wrestlers, as well as the returners from last year, the roster is filled with talent, as evidenced by the team’s three wins in the Hofstra Duals. While this plezthora of strong wrestlers is clearly a plus for Penn, it also means that difficult decisions must be made regarding the team’s starting personnel, as only one wrestler per weight class can compete in each dual.
Roger Reina, Penn wrestling’s winningest coach, returned to the program this season after a 12-year hiatus. Before stepping down as head coach in 2005, Reina spent 25 consecutive years with the program as a wrestler, assistant coach and head coach. In fact, he was named head coach only two years after graduating from Penn, making him the youngest coach in Division I wrestling at the time.
New head coach, no problem. In Roger Reina’s first competition in charge of the Quakers since 2005, Penn wrestling put up a strong showing in the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open at Binghamton University this past Sunday, with eight of its fourteen wrestlers placing in their respective weight classes.
After graduating from Penn and coaching the wrestling team from 1986-2005, Penn Athletic Director Grace Calhoun announced Wednesday that Reina would be returning to his position as head coach. The news comes two weeks after Calhoun announced that former head coach Alex Tirapelle had resigned.