PHILADELPHIA - After waiting 91 days for a home match, Penn made up for lost time on Saturday by winning all three duals on the docket. The #25-ranked Quakers defeated the #21-ranked Maryland Terrapins (19-16), North Carolina (24-14) and Gloucester (30-22). With the wins over the Terps and Tar Heels, Penn can now be called the unofficial ACC champions. The Quakers are 4-0 against ACC teams this season, having already defeated Virginia Tech and Virginia in dual matches.
The first dual of the day saw the Quakers wrestle the defending NJCAA National Champions in Gloucester. The first bout saw Vincent Cina and Darren Carrero engage in a back and forth battle at 149 pounds. In the end, it was Cina who emerged victorious, jumping out to a 6-3 lead after two periods and using a late escape point to secure a 13-11 win.
After a win from Jake Hunter at 157 pounds (5-2 decision) and a loss by Zak Klinvex at 165 pounds (12-4 major decision), the match turned in the Quakers’ favor as the next three Penn grapplers pinned their opponent.
At 174 pounds, Scott Giffin took down Brian Collins early in the first period and then ten near-fall points, turning Collins on four occasions. The second period started in the neutral position and saw Giffin again score a takedown. This time, when Giffin turned Collins he completed the move and pinned him 36 seconds into the second period.
In the next bout, Colin Hitschler did not wait for the second period. He took Brandon Miller down eight seconds into the match and completed the pin :46 into the first period.
Dan Zander (197 pounds) completed the trifecta, needing 1:46 to pin Nicholas Stratis.
At high noon, Penn took on #21-ranked Maryland. What looked like an evenly-matched dual on paper stayed true to form. The Terps jumped out to a 9-0 lead off a Steven Bell decision at 133 pounds (11-6 over Bryan Ortenzio) and a pin by Jon Kohler at 141 pounds (2:26 over Andy Valenti). The Quakers fought back to tie the match with three straight decisions by #14 Cesar Grajales (8-2 at 149 pounds), Rob Hitschler (3-2 at 157 pounds) and #17 Zack Shanaman (8-2 at 165 pounds).
Maryland retook the lead with a major decision by #9 Mike Letts at 174 pounds over Jeff Zannetti, 14-4.
At 184 pounds, Lior Zamir wrestled #17 Joshua Haines in a physical battle. Zamir scored a takedown in the first period and then showed extreme toughness in the second period as Haines had top position and did everything he could to turn Zamir, but was not successful. The middle period took a lot out of Haines and he was not able to escape and score in the third, bringing Penn to within one point, trailing 13-12.
The 197 pound match between Thomas Shovlin and #7 Hudson Taylor was another intense bout. The two were scoreless entering the third frame after trading a series of shots and takedown attempts through five minutes. Haines started on bottom and managed a reversal to take the win, adding to Maryland’s lead.
Trailing 16-12 with two matches left, Penn needed wins in both bouts to take the dual. Trey McLean was up first at heavyweight. He took Patrick Gilmore down seven times in the match, including four in the first period. He added a three-point near-fall in the second period to win the bout, 17-7 via major decision, and tie the match at 16-16.
With one match remaining, Penn had its highest-ranked wrestler on the mat in 125-pounder #8 Rollie Peterkin. He did not disappoint, winning his match, 6-0, over Brendan Byrne.
After the match, head coach Zeke Jones talked about the importance of getting back in the win column with a win over a ranked opponent.
“We thought the match would be even the whole way through,” he said. “It is great to get back on the winning side of one of these, though. We have been working on putting together ten solid matches and the guys are starting to understand what it takes individually to win a match like this.”
The excitement of defeating the Terps would be quickly forgotten if the Quakers couldn’t bounce back immediately and complete the sweep by beating North Carolina.
Ortenzio continued the momentum from the previous dual with a 3-1 win over Danny Lopes at 133 pounds. He took Lopes down in the first period and accumulated 2:16 of advantage time for the win.
Nick Stabile won the 141 pound match with a 9-0 win over Phil Boyer.
At 149 pounds, Grajales and Vincent Ramirez engaged in a tight battle. Each man was able to score one point with an escape in regulation before heading to sudden victory. In the extra period, Grajales scored a takedown for the 3-1 win.
One overtime wasn’t enough at 157 pounds, as Rob Hitschler and Thomas Scotton battled into a second OT after a back and forth 7-7 regulation. In the second overtime, Hitschler scored with an escape and added a takedown to secure the 10-7 victory.
The 165 pound match was the only bout of the day that pitted two ranked wrestlers against each other in #17 Zack Shanaman and #13 Keegan Mueller. After a scoreless first period, Mueller exploded in the second period, scoring six points. He added a takedown in the third period to go with 1:36 of riding time for the 9-0 major decision win, bringing the team score to 9-8 in favor of Penn.
Zannetti extended the Quakers’ lead with a 4-0 shutout at 174 pounds. Lior Zamir followed with a 3-2 win over Nick Tenpenny at 184 pounds.
The Tar Heels pulled back within a point when Dennis Drury won the 197 pound match via injury default when Thomas Shovlin injured his leg 3:26 into the bout. This was as close as the Heels would come.
Trey McLean avenged a 8-1 loss earlier in the season when he defeated #18 Justin Dobies, 3-2, in heavyweight action. With the bout tied, 2-2, at the start of the third period, McLean escaped from Dobies to earn the win. Peterkin won his match at 125 pounds via medical forfeit due to an injury suffered by UNC’s Drew Forshey earlier in the day to make the final score 24-14 in favor of the Red and Blue.
“I am very happy with how the team carried the momentum over match to match today,” Jones said. “I think that shows we are beginning to peak at the right time.”
He was quick to credit his upperclassmen who came through with big wins when the team needed them.
“Lior had a great day. He is a senior and a leader on this team,” he said. “He really understands that a bout is seven minutes long and you need to be able to go the distance when called on. His conditioning was the reason he won his match against Haines. He followed that up with a great win against UNC.”
Another captain he credited was Rob Hitschler.
“When Rob is wrestling, he uses everything he has in his arsenal to win the match. He has been through so much in his years here and he has turned it all into learning experiences. He refuses to give in and let a match slip away.”
Hitschler was pleased with how the Quakers responded to end their three-match losing streak.
“This was a solid team effort. Each guy keeps getting better. It was great being back here at home in The Palestra and having our fans behind us. The important thing is to stay hungry and keep improving down the stretch.”
The stretch run that Hitschler is talking about includes five Ivy League duals and the EIWA and NCAA Championships.
“While every match is important, we always look to be at our best at the EIWA and NCAA tournaments,” he said. “One way we can do that is to do well in the Ivies. It would be great to win the Ivy title.”
Jones agrees with his captain.
“At Penn, in all sports, the Ivy League title is an important goal. While for us it may not be the ultimate goal, it is right up there with winning an NCAA championship. I think the guys aspire to be the best and winning an Ivy championship validates that.”
The road to an Ivy title starts next weekend with duals at Harvard (Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.) and Brown (Feb. 9)
Here is a quick look at the results:
#25 Penn def. Gloucester, 30-22
125 lbs. - Paul Bauberger (GCC) win via forfeit; GCC leads, 6-0
133 lbs. - Phil Boyer (Penn) win via forfeit; Match tied 6-6
141 lbs. - James Stevens (GCC) win via forfeit; GCC leads 12-6
149 lbs. - Vincent Cina (Penn) def. Darren Carrero (GCC), Dec 13-11; GCC leads 12-9
157 lbs. - Jake Hunter (Penn) def. Domenic Giambanco (GCC) Dec 5-2; Match tied 12-12
165 lbs. - Randy Moore (GCC) def. Zak Klinvex (Penn); Maj. 12-4; GCC leads 16-12
174 lbs. - Scott Giffin (Penn) def. Brian Collins (GCC), FALL 3:36; Penn leads 18-16
184 lbs. - Colin Hitschler (Penn) def. Brandon Miller (GCC), FALL :46; Penn leads 24-16
197 lbs. - Dan Zander (Penn) def. Nicholas Stratis (GCC), FALL 1:46; Penn leads 30-16
Hwt. - Bryan Tomasello (GCC) def Tyler Blakely (Penn), FALL 6:54; Penn leads 30-22
#25 Penn def #21 Maryland, 19-16
133 lbs. Steven Bell (Maryland) def. Bryan Ortenzio (Penn), Dec 11-6; Maryland leads 3-0
141 lbs. Jon Kohler (Maryland) def. Andrew Valenti (Penn), FALL 2:21; Maryland leads 9-0
149 lbs. - #14 Cesar Grajales (Penn) def. Eric Medina (Maryland), Dec 8-2; Maryland leads 9-3
157 lbs. Rob Hitschler (Penn) def. Brian Letters (Maryland), Dec 3-2; Maryland leads 9-6
165 lbs. - #17 Zack Shanaman (Penn) def. Ryan Kennet (Maryland), Dec 8-2; Match tied 9-9
174 lbs. - #9 Mike Letts (Maryland) def. Jeff Zannetti (Penn), Maj 14-4; Maryland leads 13-9
184 lbs. Lior Zamir (Penn) def. #17 Josh Haines (Maryland), Dec 2-0; Maryland leads 13-12
197 lbs. - #7 Hudson Taylor (Maryland) def. Thomas Shovlin (Penn), Dec 3-0; Maryland leads 16-12
Hwt. Trey McLean (Penn) def. Patrick Gilmore (Maryland); Maj. 17-7; Match tied 16-16
125 lbs. - #8 Rollie Peterkin (Penn) def Brendan Byrne (Maryland), Dec 6-0; Penn leads 19-16
#25 Penn def. North Carolina, 24-14
133 lbs. Bryan Ortenzio (Penn) def. Danny Lopes (UNC), Dec 3-1, Penn leads 3-0
141 lbs. Nick Stabile (UNC) def. Phil Boyer (Penn), Maj. 9-0, UNC leads 4-3
149 lbs. - #14 Cesar Grajales (Penn) def. Vincent Ramirez (UNC), Dec. 3-1(SV1); Penn leads 6-4
157 lbs. Rob Hitschler (Penn) def. Thomas Scotton (UNC), Dec. 10-7 (OT2); Penn leads 9-4
165 lbs. - #13 Keegan Mueller (UNC) def. #17 Zack Shanaman (Penn), Maj. 9-0; Penn leads 9-8
174 lbs. Jeff Zannetti (Penn) def. Kyle Kiss (UNC), Dec. 4-0; Penn leads 12-8
184 lbs. Lior Zamir (Penn) def. Nick Tenpenny (UNC), Dec. 3-2; Penn leads 15-8
197 lbs. Dennis Drury (UNC) def. Thomas Shovlin (Penn), Injury Default 3:26; Penn leads 15-14
Hwt. Trey McLean (Penn) def. #18 Justin Dobies (UNC), Dec. 3-2; Penn leads 18-14
125 lbs. - #8 Rollie Peterkin (Penn) def. Drew Forshey (UNC), Medical Forfeit; Penn leads 24-14