PHILADELPHIA – Penn ventures to Lincoln, Neb. this weekend to take on No. 8 Nebraska (7 p.m. EST) in its first dual of 2014. The Quakers enter the weekend with a 2-2 record in dual meets, while the Cornhuskers are 6-0 overall in duals.
The ‘Huskers are the third ranked opponent for the Red and Blue in a row during dual competition, the first time Penn has challenged a trio of ranked teams in succession since the end of the 2008-09 season. That stretch of ranked opponents was the second such run of that season as the Quakers took on a total of nine Top-25 opponents in head coach Rob Eiter’s first season as skipper of the Red and Blue.
2008-09 was also the last time Penn and Nebraska met in a dual, Penn coming close to knocking off the ‘Huskers in Lincoln, but ultimately falling by a 23-14 score. The Quakers won four bouts in the dual and led, 14-9, after seven matches before bonus points in the final three bouts secured the win for host Nebraska. Trey McLean had the big win for the Quakers in the dual, knocking off No. 16 Tucker Lane at heavyweight. Rollie Peterkin, Rick Rappo and Cesar Grajales also had wins for the Red and Blue. Grajales’ 12-11 win at 149 pounds gave Penn a 14-9 lead with three bouts left, but the Huskers rallied with wins from No. 3 Jordan Burroughs (by forfeit at 157), No. 5 Stephen Dwyer and No. 2 Brendan Browne.
The last meeting between Penn and Nebraska featured a total of eight ranked wrestlers between the two schools and this Saturday’s will be one better with nine grapplers in this week’s Amateur Wrestling News Top-20 Rankings. The Cornhuskers will carry the bulk of those ranked wrestlers, with seven, and Penn lining up No. 10 Lorenzo Thomas (184) and No. 19 Casey Kent (165.
For a Penn squad which is looking to wash away a loss to No. 23 Lehigh in early December and a 19th-plae finish at the Southern Scuffle last week, the chance to tangle with ranked wrestlers and capture a signature win to truly open 2014 is a welcomed sight.
Caleb Richardson is fresh off an eighth place finish at the Southern Scuffle, with a 3-3 record and a big win over Central Michigan’s No. 7 Corey Keener. He is right back in the fray this weekend, with No. 11 Tim Lambert his probable opponent. A redshirt freshman, Lambert was 19-3 in his redshirt season and is 14-5 this year, with three losses to Top-10 opponents.
For No. 19 Casey Kent, his looming bout with No. 16 Austin Wilson at 165 pounds could be pivotal to Penn’s hopes for a win. Kent is 9-4 this season, and coming off a 2-2 performance at the Southern Scuffle. Last season, Kent suffered a 6-3 loss to Wilson at Midlands in the only previous meeting between the two. This season, Wilson is 15-5 overall, including a 9-8 win over No. 12 Dylan Palacio of Cornell. An NCAA qualifier last season, Wilson went 3-2 at his first national championships.
The other bout featuring a pair of ranked wrestlers is set for 184 pounds where No. 10 Lorenzo Thomas will put his 14-5 record to the test against No. 13 T.J. Dudley. Thomas is coming off a sixth place run at the Southern Scuffle, while Dudley has recently taken second at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Dudley is 6-0 in duals, with five of those wins coming with bonus points. Thomas, meanwhile, has a team-leading seven pins this season.
Ray Bethea is second on the team with 12 wins in 2013-14, and he will take on his biggest challenge as a collegiate wrestler in No. 3 James Green at 157 pounds. A two-time All-American who has finished seventh at the past two NCAA Championships, Green is 19-0 this season with 11 wins with bonus points.
All-time, Penn is 0-1-1 in just two meetings with Nebraska. In addition to the loss in Lincoln in 2009, Penn tied the ‘Huskers, 17-17, at The Palestra in the 2006-07 season. All-time against the Big Ten, Penn is 7-43-1 in 51 duals against Big Ten opponents.
Penn’s Probable Lineup vs. #8 Nebraska
125; Caleb Richardson, Fr. (9-6)
133: Ken Bade, Fr. (4-8)
141: Jeff Canfora, Jr. (10-8)
149: Andrew Lenzi, Sr. (8-6)
157: Ray Bethea, So. (12-5) or Steve Robertson, Jr. (10-5)
165: No. 19 Casey Kent, So. (9-4)
174: Zach Agostino, Sr. (6-6)
184: No. 10 Lorenzo Thomas, Jr. (14-5)
197: Frank Mattiace, Fr. (11-6)
285: Steven Graziano, Sr. (6-8)
#8 Nebraska Probable Lineup
125: No. 11 Tim Lambert, RFr. (14-5)
133: Colton McCrystal, Fr. (11-5) or Ben Morgan, RFr. (13-7)
141: Adam Joseph, Sr. (7-6)
149: No. 4 Jake Sueflohn, Jr. (19-3)
157: No. 3 James Green, Jr. (19-0)
165: No. 17 Austin Wilson, So. (15-5)
174: No. 4 Robert Kokesh, Jr. (21-1) or Micah Barnes, RFr. (5-1)
184: No. 13 T.J. Dudley, Fr. (18-3)
197: Spencer Johnson, Jr. (21-7) or Caleb Kolb, Sr. (5-1) or Aaron Studebaker, RFr. (19-5)
285: Collin Jensen, RFr. (15-6)