PHILAEDELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania announced its 2014-15 wrestling schedule today, and the Quakers will undertake a challenging slate which includes 12 dual meets and five tournaments as the Red and Blue prepare for their first season under the tutelage of first-year Roger Reina Head Coach of Wrestling Alex Tirapelle.
"As a coach, I'm uniquely situated going into this year's wrestling season," Tirapelle said. "Up until this point, I have only had the opportunity to watch our guys compete from the opposing corner. I'm excited to experience the other side of the equation as we work to return to the top of the EIWA and national prominence."
Penn's 2014-15 schedule will include a mix of duals and tournaments, intended to prepare the Quakers for the arduous road to EIWA and NCAA success.
"This year's schedule includes five individual advancement tournaments. These events are an important part of the preparation process because they mirror the format of the EIWA and NCAA Championships. It is a challenging slate of tournaments, which we expect to provide our wrestlers with the opportunity to make their case for a spot at the NCAA Championships, while the Keystone Classic and Midlands events will give us a sample of the type of field we can expect to see in the postseason."
The season will unofficially commence for the Quakers on Nov. 1 when the program hosts the NWCA All-Star Classic in The Palestra. This will mark the third time that the “house of wrestling” will welcome the nation’s elite wrestlers for this always-entertaining preseason showcase.
The season begins in earnest with the first of five in-season tournaments for the Quakers as they head to the East Stroudsburg Open on Nov. 16. Last year Penn had two champions at the event, Ray Bethea wrestled his way to the 157-pound title and Frank Mattiace was champion at 197. They were joined in the finals by teammate Lorenzo Thomas.
On Nov. 23, Penn will again host its annual early season tournament, the Keystone Classic. Always a challenging day of competition, Lorenzo Thomas will be looking to defend his 184-pound title from 2013. Last year’s Keystone Classic featured 38 wrestlers who would go on to compete at the NCAA Championships, including four All-Americans and an NCAA champion. This year's Keystone Classic lineup includes Appalachian State, Bloomsburg, Campbell, Drexel, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Rider, South Dakota State, and Stanford. The 12 schools set to compete at the 2014 Keystone Classic combined to send 49 wrestlers to last year's NCAA Championships.
Penn’s first foray into dual meet competition for 2014-15 will be a short trip to New Jersey for duals with Rider and Clarion on Nov. 30 at Rider. Penn and Rider last met in a dual during the 2011-12 season, a 22-9 Penn win. Penn’s last meeting with Clarion came during the 2009-10 season, a 24-18 victory for the Quakers.
The Quakers will close the fall semester with its annual meeting with Pennsylvania rival, Lehigh. This year’s installment is set for Dec. 6 in Bethlehem at 2 p.m. The last time Penn made the trip to Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall, the Quakers knocked off the 21st-ranked Mountain Hawks, 24-12.
After a one-year hiatus, the Red and Blue will return to the Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill. at the end of December. Penn’s last trip to Midlands saw the Quakers send C.J. Cobb to the quarterfinals.
Following Midlands, Penn will continue its tournament campaign, competing at the Franklin & Marshall Open on Jan. 3.
The first dual meet of 2015 will see the Quakers head to Iowa State on Jan. 11. The Cyclones finished 12th at the NCAA Championships last season with three All-Americans. This trip will mark Penn’s first-ever visit to Iowa State.
Penn’s first home dual meet of the season will come on Jan. 17 as the Quakers host Lock Haven in The Palestra at 1 p.m. This will be just the second all-time meeting between Penn and Lock Haven in a dual meet. The other was an 18-17 loss for the Quakers at the Virginia Duals in 1994.
After competing at the Shorty Hitchcock Memorial at Millersville on Jan. 24, the Quakers will close the regular season with seven consecutive dual meets.
Up first is the yearly test with Cornell. The Quakers will make the trek to Ithaca this time, looking to knock off the defending Ivy League champions on Jan. 24. The following day, Penn will wrestle EIWA foe, Binghamton.
Penn will return to the Palestra for four of its final five dual meets, beginning with an Ivy doubleheader against Brown and Harvard on Feb. 7. Valentine’s Day will see Penn head to the Big Apple to wrestle Columbia.
The final weekend of the regular season will have Penn host Princeton and Drexel on Feb. 21. Last year, Penn swept its road doubleheader against the two teams, including a 20-10 win over Drexel to claim the first edition of the “Abner’s Cheesesteak Challenge” match between Philadelphia’s two Division I college wrestling programs.
The Quakers will head back to Bethlehem for the 2015 EIWA Championships March 6-7. The last time EIWAs were hosted by Lehigh came in 2010, with Penn finishing second.
The 2015 NCAA Championships are scheduled for March 19-21 in Saint Louis, Mo.