Wrestling Rekindles Rivalries with Lehigh and Hofstra
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PHILADELPHIA - After a trip to Oklahoma and a non-traditional foe in Oklahoma State, Penn settles into a more familiar stretch of dual matches this weekend. On Saturday, the Quakers head to Bethlehem for a dual with No. 21 Lehigh before returning to The Palestra on Sunday for the home-opener against Hofstra. Both matches against two of Penn's fiercest wrestling rivals start at 1 p.m.
The Red and Blue (0-1) will look to take down a ranked opponent on the road for the first time since Feb. 20, 2009 (No. 24 Penn State) in Leeman-Turner Arena on Saturday, also setting out to snap a four-match losing streak to the Mountain Hawks. Penn's last win against Lehigh came on Feb. 24, 2008 - a 24-15 win at The Palestra. The year before marks the last time Penn was victorious in Grace Hall, a 21-15 win on Feb. 10, 2007.
After years of familiar faces competing for Penn and Lehigh, the 2012 dual should usher in a new era in the rivalry. Of the 20 wrestlers who competed last season in the dual, just four return as probable starters this weekend. Only one bout from the 2011 dual is a scheduled rematch - the 174-pound tilt between Ian Korb and Nathaniel Brown which saw Korb score a 6-4 win in overtime.
C.J. Cobb has won five matches in a row for the Quakers and is 8-2 overall this season competing at 141 pounds. Overall in his career, Cobb is 14-4, with seven of his wins coming by way of bonus points. He is on the cusp of breaking into the national rankings, and will take on redshirt junior Anthony Salupo for Lehigh. Salupo is 2-1 this season, and was 16-8 last season competing at 149 pounds.
No. 20 Mark Rappo is the only ranked wrestler in the lineup for Penn this weekend with Micah Burak out with injury. Rappo is 4-1 overall and coming off a 9-2 win at Oklahoma State last weekend. He is 3-1 in his career against Lehigh wrestlers.
The Mountain Hawks have graduated some of their big guns in former national champion Zach Rey and national runner-up Brandon Hatchett, but still boast one of the nation's top 184-pounders in No. 3 Robert Hamlin. The two-time All-American and national runner-up in 2011 has won a pair of EIWA championships and enters the weekend with an 81-19 overall record. In addition, Joey Napoli has risen to No. 4 at 157 pounds after a pair of big wins over No. 2 Dylan Alton and No. 7 Frank Hickman two weeks ago. No. 17 Eric Hess (165), No. 19 Nathaniel Brown (174) and No. 19 Shane Welsh (149) round out the quintet of ranked wrestlers for Lehigh in the lineup this weekend.
On Sunday, Penn makes its Palestra debut in a dual against Hofstra. The Pride enter the weekend at 0-6 overall in duals, with five of those duals coming against Top-25 opponents. All-time, Penn is 4-8-0 against the Pride, and on a two-match losing streak. Penn won back-to-back duals against Hofstra in 2009 and 2010, the 2009 win Penn's last against Hofstra in The Palestra.
The 125-pound matchup is expected to be the marquee bout of the dual, the only one pitting two ranked wrestlers against each other. Rappo will take on No. 17 Steve Bonnano, who enters the weekend with a 5-4 record. Bonnano was 2-2 at the Northeast Dual last weekend, both losses coming to unranked wrestlers and dropping him from No. 9 in the country. A three-time NCAA qualifier, Bonnano was eighth last year to earn All-American honors. In the 2010-11 season, Rappo defeated Bonnano - then ranked No. 15 - by a 4-3 decision at the Southern Scuffle.
Cobb will again be in a feature bout, taking on No. 10 Luke Vaith. Last year, Vaith defeated Penn's Zack Kemmerer in the dual before losing at NCAAs. Vaith is 7-4 this season. If Steven Graziano gets the nod at heavyweight, look for another close match with Paul Snyder. The two met twice last year - a 6-3 win for Snyder at the Binghamton Open and a 7-2 win for Graziano in the dual. Snyder is off to a 7-3 start this season while Graziano is 5-4 to begin the year.
Penn's Probable Lineup
125: #20 Mark Rappo, Sr. (4-1)
133: Geoffrey Bostany, Jr. (4-4)
141: C.J. Cobb, So. (8-2)
149: Andrew Lenzi, Jr. (7-4) or Mark Pinero, So. (2-3)
157: Troy Hernandez, Sr. (3-2)
165: Casey Kent, Fr. (7-5)
174: Ian Korb, So. (9-4)
184: Canaan Bethea, Jr. (6-3)
197: Mike Steltenkamp, Sr. (0-5)
285: Kyle Cowan, Jr. (4-3) or Steven Graziano, Jr. (5-4)
No. 21 Lehigh's Probable Lineup
125: Alex Abreu, Jr. (1-2)
133: Randy Cruz, Fr. (14-4) or Laike Gardiner, Fr. (1-2)
141: Anthony Salupo, So. (2-1)
149: #19 Shane Welsh, Sr. (1-2)
157: #4 Joey Napoli, Jr. (3-0)
165: #17 Eric Hess, Fr. (2-1)
174: Kevin Bailey, Sr. (4-1) or #19 Nathaniel Brown, So. (1-2)
184: #3 Robert Hamlin, Sr. (1-1)
197: Jon Bolich, Fr. (0-3)
285: Jack Delia, Fr. (2-1)
125: #17 Steve Bonnano, Sr. (5-4)
133: Jamie Franco, Jr. (5-6)
141: #10 Luke Vaith, Jr. (7-4)
149: Matt Spataro, Sr. (8-8) or Cody Ruggirello, So. (1-2)
157: Jay Lysne, Fr. (5-8)
165: Nick Terdick, So. (4-4)
174: Jermaine John, So. (6-5)
184: Taras Luzhnyy, Jr. (1-8)
197: Tim Murphy, Jr. (2-6) or Victor Pozsonyi, Fr. (0-2)
285: Paul Snyder, Sr. (7-3)