Wrestling Sends Three to EIWA Finals; Team Sits Third
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PISCATAWAY - For the first time since the 2008 EIWA Championships, Penn will send three wrestlers to championship bouts as the No. 21 Quakers sit in third place after Day One of the 109th EIWA Championships.
No. 1 seed Micah Burak will wrestle in his fourth career EIWA finals, taking on No. 2 seed James Fox of Harvard. No. 2 seeded Mark Rappo will wrestle in his second career EIWA finals, taking on top-seeded Nahshon Garrett of Cornell at 125 pounds. No. 3 C.J. Cobb has made the most of his first EIWA Championships opportunity, advancing to the title bout at 141 where he will wrestle Franklin & Marshall's No. 5 seed Richard Durso.
The Quakers have nine wrestlers left in the tournament, sitting 17.5 points behind first-place Cornell. The Red and Blue are in a tight battle for second, trailing Navy by 2.5 points entering tomorrow. Both the Quakers and Midshipmen each have three finalists and six wrestlers competing in the wrestlebacks.
The Quakers sent five wrestlers to the semifinals, matching the number the Red and Blue sent to the final four last season.
The most exciting semifinal bout for the Quakers came at 141, the latest incarnation of the rivalry between C.J. Cobb and Steven Keith from Harvard. Cobb entered with a 1-4 record all-time against Keith, but came through when it mattered for a 6-3 decision. After a scoreless first period, Cobb found himself behind after a reversal from Keith in the second period. Cobb escaped to close the gap before the middle frame ran out, and escaped to start the third period to knot the bout. Cobb then finished the first takedown of the match with 30 seconds left, adding a final score at the buzzer.
Mark Rappo returned to the EIWA finals via a 7-3 decision over Billy Waterson of Brown. Rappo improved to 4-0 all-time against Waterson, breaking a scoreless tie at the 2:21 mark for a 2-1 lead after the first period. Waterson tied the match early in the second, but Rappo twice countered a Waterson attempt with a circle-behind for a pair of takedowns to separate the match. Rappo would escape in the third, staving off Waterson to give himself a chance at his first EIWA crown. He was runner-up to Cornell's Frank Perrelli in 2011, 6-4.
Micah Burak has had many classic battles with a Lehigh wrestler in his time, and his fourth trip to an EIWA final seemed destined to again go through the Mountain Hawks. Pitted against No. 5 John Bolich, Burak connected on the only takedown of the match at the 2:20 mark, and essentially secured the win with a full two-minute ride in the second period.
Ian Korb was very close to his first EIWA final at 174 pounds, but was edged by No. 1 seed Nate Brown of Lehigh, 3-1, on a close takedown on the edge in the third period. Korb still has work to do if he wants to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. A win tomorrow morning against Princeton's Ryan Callahan - a wrestler Korb defeated, 10-4, two weeks ago - will secure that automatic bid. Korb advanced to the semifinals with arguably his biggest career win, a 2-1 decision in a tiebreaker over No. 4 seed Stephen West of Columbia. Korb had not defeated West in two previous meetings.
Steven Graziano was another low-seeded Penn wrestler to make the semifinals, where he was defeated by No. 2 seed Blake Herrin, 8-4. Graziano held an early lead, but a four-point move from Herrin late in the second turned the tide. Herrin capped the win with a late takedown. Graziano reached the semis with a 5-3 decision over No. 3 seed Stryker Lane of Cornell via a third-period takedown.
Canaan Bethea will have a big match waiting for him to start Saturday's session. He went 3-1 on Day One, winning twice in the wrestlebacks after a tiebreaker loss in the quarterfinals. He will wrestle in the consolation semifinals tomorrow against No. 3 seed Daniel Rinaldi of Rutgers to secure an automatic qualifying spot to NCAAs. 184 pounds will qualify five wrestlers, leaving Bethea two chances for the win he needed.
No. 7 seed Jeff Canfora also went 3-1 in his first day of EIWA Championships competition, winning twice in wrestlebacks after a loss to No. 2 seed Randy Cruz in the quarterfinals. He will wrestle in the consolation semifinals to start Saturday's action.
Andrew Lenzi and Troy Hernandez round out Penn's wrestlers slated for action on Saturday. Both will wrestle for seventh place in the morning session.
125: #2 Mark Rappo
Quarterfinals: Def. Max Rogers (Princeton), 20-4 (4:46)
Semifinals: Def. #6 Billy Waterson (Brown), 7-3
133: #7 Jeff Canfora
First Round: Def. Esteban Gomez-Rivera (American), 3-2
Quarterfinals: Lost to #2 Randy Cruz (Lehigh), 0-5
Consolation Second Round: Def. Andrew Polidore (Sacred Heart), 10-2
Consolation Quarterfinals: Def. #3 Bricker Dixon (Cornell), 6-0
141: #3 C.J. Cobb
First Round: Def. David Barbar (Sacred Heart) FALL 2:10
Quarterfinals: Def. #6 Connor Hanafee (Army), 7-3
Semifinals: Def. #2 Steven Keith (Harvard), 6-3
149: #8 Andrew Lenzi
Quarterfinals: Lost to #1 Steve Santos (Columbia), FALL 4:06
Consolation Second Round: Def. Andrew Murano (F&M), 7-3
Consolation Quarterfinals: Lost to #5 Kevin Tao (American), 6-3
157: #8 Troy Hernandez
Quarterfinals: Lost to #1 Walter Peppelman (Harvard), 0-6
Consolation Second Round: Def. Vincent Favia (Bucknell), 10-3
Consolation Quarterfinals: Lost to #4 Scott Winston (Rutgers), 4-1
165: #3 Casey Kent
First Round: Lost to Giuseppi Lanzi (Brown), 9-3
Consolation Second Round: Lost to #4 Paul Hancock (Army), 5-1
174: #5 Ian Korb
Quarterfinals: def. #4 Stephen West (Columbia), 2-1 (TB)
Semifinals: Lost to #1 Nate Brown (Lehigh), 3-1
184: #5 Canaan Bethea
First Round: Def. Paul Allessandrini III (F&M), FALL 2:20
Quarterfinals: Lost to #4 Mason Bailey (Navy), 3-1 (TB2)
Consolation Second Round: Def. Josh Popple (Harvard), 8-2
Consolation Quarterfinals: Def. Robert Marchese (Bucknell), 4-1
197: #1 Micah Burak
First Round: Def. Augustus Marker (Brown), 9-0
Quarterfinals: Def. Dan Seidenberg (Rutgers), 5-2
Semifinals: Def. #5 John Bolich (Lehigh), 4-1
285: #6 Steven Graziano
First Round: Def. D.J. Ingham (Brown), 7-3
Quarterfinals: Def. #3 Stryker Lane (Cornell), 5-3
Semifinals: Lost to #2 Blake Herrin (American), 7-4