#25 Wrestling Falls to #15 Cornell, 19-15

PHILADELPHIA – The Quakers and Big red engaged in another closely contested battle at The Palestra on Saturday, with Cornell escaping with a 19-15 win and gaining inside track to a sixth consecutive Ivy crown in the process.

The two teams were evenly matched throughout the meet, with the largest lead for either team being six points (a 6-0 Penn lead after the first two matches) and Cornell not holding an advantage until the penultimate bout. Both squads won five matches and Cornell’s four-point win can be directly attributed to bonus points accrued in two pivotal bouts.

The first turning point in the dual was a pinfall win by Cornell’s Steve Anceravage at 174 pounds. Cornell was trailing by six points at that point, and a pin by the #10-ranked Anceravage over Scott Giffin at 4:14 evened the score.

After a Trey McLean decision at heavyweight gave Penn a 15-12 lead with two bouts to go, the Quakers appeared to have an advantage with #8 Rollie Peterkin next on the mat at 125 lbs. Cornell’s Mike Rodriguez was quick to take the advantage in the bout, scoring a takedown nearly one minute into the bout and adding three points on a near-fall. He added a point due to a penalty on Peterkin for a 6-1 lead after one period. Three more takedowns over the next two periods propelled him to a 14-4 major decision win, and Cornell’s fourth bonus point of the dual.

The final point differential was not lost on Penn head coach Zeke Jones.

“When you look at a match and both teams win five bouts, clearly the team with more bonus points will come out on top,” he said. “Today, we didn’t do that and the final score reflects so.”

Lost in the defeat are impressive wins from Rick Rappo (141 lbs.), Lior Zamir (184 lbs.) and McLean.

With the dual starting at 141, Rappo was first on the mat for the Red and Blue. He shot at the whistle and finally scored the takedown 50 seconds into the match. He added a three-point near-fall after tilting Nick Bridge for almost 80 seconds. He added another three back points at the end of the period for an 8-0 lead after one. Starting on bottom in the second period, he needed 13 seconds to reverse Bridge and score two. He added a point for an escape in the third and a 3:54 advantage in riding time gave him a 12-5 win and first blood in the bout for Penn.

Zamir took the mat immediately after Cornell tied the match with Anceravage’s pin, looking to restore momentum for Penn. His opponent was #11 Josh Arnone. Last season, Arnone pinned Zamir at 4:59 in a dual meet and 7-5 in a consolation semifinal match at EIWAs. Arnone was wrestling only his third match of the season since returning from a torn labrum. Neither man was able to score a point in the first period. Arnone accumulated two minutes of riding time by being on top for the entire second period, almost scoring back points until Zamir prevented the tilt. Arnone started on bottom in the third, and escaped 17 second in for the point. Zamir scored the first takedown of the match with two points at the 5:01 mark of the bout. Arnone escaped again with 43 seconds remaining in the bout to take what was a 3-2 lead including his riding time advantage. Zamir needed a takedown for the win and did just that, throwing Arnone to the mat with less than four seconds to go in the bout for a 12-9 Penn lead.

With the dual again tied, 12-12, McLean scored an upset of his own with a 13-6 win over #11 Zach Hammond at heavyweight. Hammond, a 2007 NCAA qualifier, scored the firs points of the match with a takedown early in the first period. McLean escaped and Hammond injured his elbow in the process. He was able to continue, but did not have the same strength the remainder of the bout. McLean added two takedowns in the first period, including one at the buzzer. In the third period, McLean added an escape point at the whistle and followed with a takedown and three points for a near-fall. The final score was 13-6.

In other matches on Saturday, #13 Cesar Grajales scored his second win over D.J. Meagher this season at 149 pounds with a 4-1 decision. Grajales took Meagher down with one minute to go in the first and added an escape point in the second to go with a riding time point for the win, his 26th of the season.

#17 Zack Shanaman won his bout at 165 pounds over Joey Hooker, 2-0. Shanaman defeated the two-time NCAA qualifier with an escape 20 seconds into the second period and 1:40 of riding time due to a complete third period on top for Shanaman.

Rob Hitschler gave #9 Jordan Leen everything he had at 157 before dropping a 4-0 decision to the 2007 All-American. Both men had chances for two points in the first period, but neither was able to score until Leen escaped early in the second. He added a takedown with 1:03 left in the bout and rode him out for the 4-0 win.

Thomas Shovlin and Justin Kerber had another in a series of close bouts on the day at 197 pounds. Shovlin scored first with a takedown with 32 seconds remaining in the first period. Kerber escaped a minute into the second and scored a takedown with 42 seconds left in the match for the win. The 42 seconds he was on top for at the end of the third erased Shovlin’s advantage in riding time that would have tied the match.

At 133 lbs., two freshmen did battle as Bryan Ortenzio met #2 Mike Grey. Five takedowns by Grey in the first two periods jumped him out to a 10-3 lead after two and forced Ortenzio to go on the aggressive in the final frame in an effort to win the bout and the match for the Red and Blue. Ortenzio was able to add four points in the final frame, but that was not enough as Grey took the bout, 14-7, and secure the dual for Cornell.

“This was a tough battle between two good teams,” Jones said. “There were some unusual matches out there today and guys stepped up on both sides.”

He was pleased with his team’s start.

“Rappo came out and attacked from the first whistle,” he followed. “You can’t ask for anything more. He really laid the groundwork for success early in the match. Cesar followed with a good win and Rob was right there with Leen the whole bout.”

He pointed to his team’s conditioning as big factors in Zamir and McLean’s wins.

“Those two guys (Zamir and McLean) showed why wrestling is about the work you put in all year to be in your best condition at the end of the season,” Jones said. “I feel like I say this all the time, but Lior is a tremendous leader and example for this team. McLean is peaking at the best time a wrestler can and will be a factor at EIWAs in a few weeks.”

Don’t forget Peterkin, he warned.

“I know Rollie will be upset about his result today and will have it fresh in his mind three weeks from now at Easterns. I hope this is a good motivational tool for him.”

Next weekend, Penn has a pair of duals – hosting Lehigh at The Palestra February 24 at 1 p.m. before traveling to Princeton for a dual with the Tigers at 6 p.m. the same day.

#15 Cornell (5-5) def. #25 Penn (11-5)

141 lbs. – Rick Rappo (Penn) def. Nick Bridge (Cornell), 12-5; Penn leads 3-0

149 lbs. - #13 Cesar Grajales (Penn)def. D.J. Meagher (Cornell), 4-1; Penn leads 6-0

157 lbs. - #9 Jordan Leen (Cornell) def. Rob Hitschler (Penn), 4-0; Penn leads 6-3

165 lbs. - #17 Zack Shanaman (Penn) def. Joey Hooker (Cornell), 2-0; Penn leads 9-3

174 lbs. - #10 Steve Anceravage (Cornell) def. Scott Giffin (Penn), Fall 4:14; Match tied 9-9

184 lbs. – Lior Zamir (Penn) def. #11 Josh Arnone (Cornell), 4-3; Penn leads 12-9

197 lbs. – Justin Kerber (Cornell) def. Thomas Shovlin (Penn), 3-2; Match tied 12-12

Hwt. – Trey McLean (Penn) def. #11 Zach Hammond (Cornell), 13-6: Penn leads 15-12

125 lbs. – Mike Rodriguez (Cornell) def. #8 Rollie Peterkin (Penn),14-4; Cornell leads 16-15

133 lbs. - #2 Mike Grey (Cornell) def. Bryan Ortenzio (Penn), 14-7; Cornell wins 19-15