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PHILADELPHIA - The final buzzer of the 2012-13 regular season is within range, No. 23 Penn facing just three duals before championship season begins. Up first, a trip to the Big Apple to wrestle Columbia on Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Quakers are 7-3 overall and 2-1 inside the Ivy League. Columbia has not competed since Feb. 2 and enters the weekend with a 4-6 overall record and a 0-1 mark inside the Ivy League.
Columbia is Penn's oldest wrestling rival, Saturday's meeting the 101st dual meet between the two teams. The Lions are also the team Penn has defeated the most over its storied wrestling history. Over the 11 previous encounters, the Quakers are 68-41-2 against the Lions - for %11.7 of Penn's 578 all-time dual meet victories.
The Red and Blue have won five in a row against the Lions, and 17 of the last 18 duals. The last time Columbia has earned a win in the series came in 2007 - a 22-12 win for the Lions in New York City.
Last year, Penn was perilously close to having its streak snapped. On Feb. 11, the Quakers needed wins in the final two bouts to erase an 18-13 deficit and escape with a 19-13 win. Micah Burak started the rally with a 10-3 decision over Nick Mills at heavyweight before Steven Graziano capped the comeback with a 5-2 decision over Kevin Lester at heavyweight.
Turnover will bring plenty of new matches to the card on Saturday, with just three potential rematches on the docket. At 197, Burak and Mills are slated to meet once again, Burak entering the dual with a 5-0 record all-time against Columbia. The other two rematches will see Penn try and flip the result from the 2012 dual. At 157, Troy Hernandez is slated to wrestle No. 18 Jake O'Hara. Last year, O'Hara was victorious, 12-2, in the dual before Hernandez closed the gap in a 5-3 loss at EIWAs. O'Hara enters the weekend with a 16-4 record. At 174, Ian Korb will look to reverse a 9-1 loss to Stephen West last year in the dual. West is 18-5 this season and has won six of his last seven bouts.
No. 6 Steve Santos has been out of the lineup for most of the winter, competing just twice since Midlands. The NCAA qualifier in 2012 is 13-1 this season, his only loss to No. 4 Donnie Vinson of Binghamton. Santos and Penn's Andrew Lenzi have met once, a 3-0 win for Santos at the 2011 EIWA Championships.
Canaan Bethea enters the weekend with wins in seven of eight bouts for the Quakers. Since a loss to Iowa State's Boaz Beard on Jan. 13, Bethea has seven matches by decision, his only loss to defending national champion Steve Bosak, 5-0. He has never wrestled a Columbia opponent. He is one of three Penn wrestlers who will make his first career start against a Columbia grappler this weekend - joined by C.J. Cobb and Jeff Canfora.
125-pounder Mark Rappo has won nine of his last ten bouts and is 9-1 in duals this season to lead Penn in dual-meet wins. In terms of team scoring, he has outscored his opponents, 30-3, over ten bouts. Ian Korb set a new career high in wins last weekend, his two victories pushing him to 18-10 this season. He leads all Quakers against EIWA and Ivy League opponents with 12-2 and 7-1 records, respectively.
No. 23 Penn Probables
125: No. 20 Mark Rappo (17-4)
133: Jeff Canfora (7-6)
141: No. 11 C.J. Cobb (17-6)
149: Andrew Lenzi (20-9)
157: Troy Hernandez (8-10)
165: Casey Kent (19-10)
174: Ian Korb (18-10)
184: Canaan Bethea (19-7)
197: No. 9 Micah Burak (9-2)
285: Steven Graziano (15-11)
125: Penn Gottfried (5-11)
133: Matt Bystol (3-7) or Robert Dyar (3-6)
141: Alec Morradian (2-4)
149: No. 6 Steve Santos (13-1) or Ryan Ponte (4-7)
157: No. 18 Jake O'Hara (13-4)
165: Josh Houldsworth (10-5)
174: Stephen West (16-5)
184: Drew Rebling (4-13)
197: Nick Mills (8-10)
285: Chris Manna (1-12)