Back-to-Back Pins Propel Wrestling to Win over Clarion

WEXFORD, Pa. - Whatever the Penn coaching staff said in the hours between Saturday's first dual meet with No. 23 Pittsburgh and the nightcap against Clarion fired up the Quakers as they took the mat at North Allegheny High School.

The Red and Blue stormed out to a 9-0 lead thanks to three convincing wins at the lower weights, before back-to-back pins in the middle weights put Penn ahead for good en route to a 24-18 win over the Golden Eagles.

Mark Rappo (125), Bryan Ortenzio (133) and Zack Kemmerer (141) all picked up decisions to stake the Quakers to the early lead.

Clarion put together a pair of six-point wins at 149 and 157 to claim a 12-9 lead. James Fleming earned a first period fall over Troy Hernandez at 2:43 to get the Golden Eagles on the board. That win was followed by a forfeit win at 157 for Hadley Harrison.

Faced with a deficit for the first time all meet, Penn turned to a pair of junior leaders to turn momentum back in the Quakers' favor.

No. 20 Gabriel Burak (165) and Scott Giffin (174) matched Clarion's 12 points with two pins of their own to put Penn back in front, 21-12.

Burak scored his fall in the second period at 4:52, patiently turning Nick Milano to his back after starting in top position. Burak had already scored nearfall points early in the second period and had a 5-0 lead at the time of the fall for his 27th win of the season.

Giffin, who also had won earlier in the day, had a little Babe Ruth in him on the bus ride to the second match. Hoping to turn his team's fortunes around after a tough loss earlier, he had mentioned that he wanted to take it out on his evening opponent.

Giffin, who was mentioning earlier in the day his lack of pins as a collegian, came out and added one to his career total (now four), scoring a fall at 6:04. He was in control of his match for the majority of the six-plus minutes, leading by a score of 9-3 with over three minutes of riding time before working the tilt on Steven Cressley for the bonus points.

After Clint Podish brought Clarion back within six points with two matches to go via a 7-3 win over Cory Beaver at 184 Penn needed a win in one of the final two bouts to secure the dual.

Micah Burak provided that breathing room at 197 with a 9-5 win over Alex Thomas. The contest was tight throughout the first two periods, including a 3-2 swing in Burak's favor in the final 1:20 of the second period. Burak countered a shot to his upper body off of an inside tie for a takedown, which was then reversed by Thomas to tie the bout at 4-4. Burak gave himself a 5-4 lead with an escape at 5:37. In the third period, Burak came out quickly from bottom to take a two-point lead. Late in the period, after working a 2-on-1 for a good half-minute, he scored the takedown at 6:36. His 1:18 of riding time gave him the 9-5 win.

The first three matches went in Penn's favor thanks to a pair of big moves from Rappo and Ortenzio and a hard-fought battle from Kemmerer.

In the opener, Rappo broke apart a 4-4 match in the third period against Joe Waltko with a five-point move with 45 seconds left. He took Waltko - who was competing at his high school alma mater - to his back before locking in three backpoints for the 9-4 win.

Ortenzio followed with a five-point series of his own in the 133 bout. Ortenzio was on the move early, scoring a takedown at 0:22 after he cleared out a Jay Ivanco tie for a double leg shot. Ortenzio patiently broke down Ivanco, pulling his arm underneath and rolling over for three backpoints at 1:31. In the second, Ortenzio added to his lead with a reversal at 3:21 and went on to the 8-4 win.

Kemmerer's match with Greg Lewis was a tight battle. A scoreless first period could have went in Kemmerer's favor, but an apparent takedown was waved off late in the period. Lewis took a two-point lead with an escape and a point on a penalty for a slam. Kemmerer tied it with a takedown at 4:10, but Lewis took a lead into the third period with an escape at 4:57. In the third period, Kemmerer put together a four-point move at 5:30. He countered Lewis' rush attempt with a throw to the back for a 6-3 lead. Lewis escaped at 6:18 and added a takedown at 6:36 to get the score to 6-6. Kemmerer had riding time locked up so Lewis chose an optional escape to attempt for the tie. Kemmerer kept Lewis at bay for the final 20 seconds, taking home an 8-6 win.

Penn defeats Clarion, 24-18
125 - Mark Rappo (Penn) def. Joe Waltko (Clarion), 9-4; Penn leads 3-0
133 - Bryan Ortenzio (Penn) def. Jay Ivanco (Clarion), 10-4; Penn leads 6-0
141 - Zack Kemmerer (Penn) def. Greg Lewis (Clarion), 8-6; Penn leads 9-0
149 - James Fleming (Clarion) def. Troy Hernandez (Penn), FALL 2:43; Penn leads 9-6
157 - #19 Hadley Harrison (Clarion) wins via forfeit; Clarion leads 12-9
165 - No. 20 Gabriel Burak (Penn) def. Nick Milano (Clarion), FALL 4:52; Penn leads 15-12
174 - Scott Giffin (Penn) def. Steven Cressley (Clarion), FALL 6:04; Penn leads 21-12
184 - Clint Podish (Clarion) def. Cory Beaver (Penn), 7-3; Penn leads 21-15
197 - Micah Burak (Penn) def. Alex Thomas (Clarion), 9-5; Penn leads 24-15
285 - Quintas McCorkle (Clarion) def. Tyler Blakely (Penn), 10-6; Penn leads 24-18