PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania wrestling team closed the 2014-15 regular season with a pair of wins, defeating Princeton (19-12) and Drexel (21-15) at The Palestra to end the regular season on a six-match winning streak and secure second place in the Ivy League.
The six-match winning streak for the Quakers is the longest since a six-match run from January 27, 2013 to February 24, 2013 – a run which also closed a regular season. Overall, Penn has won its last seven home dual meets dating back to the final home meet of last season – a run which is the longest since the Quakers won eight in a row on home mats from November 22, 2008 through February 7, 2009.
The sweep of two home duals is the third such instance of the Quakers winning two home duals in the same day this season, and results in Penn finishing the 2014-15 season a perfect 6-0 in home matches. The last time Penn went undefeated at home during a season was the 1998-99 season when the Quakers went 4-0 inside The Palestra.
With the win over Drexel, Penn retained possession of the Abner’s Cheesesteak Trophy which is presented annually to the winner of the dual between Philadelphia’s two Division I wrestling programs.
Both dual meets were nail-biters, Penn needing late wins to secure the team victories.
Penn won six of the ten matches against Princeton en route to a 19-12 win. The Quakers won five of the first seven bouts to build a 16-6 lead, but a win from Brett Harner over No. 5 Lorenzo Thomas stunned The Palestra crowd and chewed into Penn’s lead. The Tigers would follow with a win from No. 12 Abram Ayala over Canaan Bethea, making it a four-point meet and setting up some heroics from freshman Patrik Garren at heavyweight.
Garren would defeat Ray O’Donnell, 7-4, buoyed by a five-point throw in the first period. The win from Garren secured the 24th consecutive win for the Quakers over the Tigers.
No. 18 Caleb Richardson had a takedown clinic in his match with Trey Aslanian, scoring eight takedowns and adding two reversals en route to a 23-12 major decision. At 141 pounds, Jeff Canfora and Jordan Laster went to tiebreakers, but a takedown from Laster in the second period of the first tiebreaker was enough for a 7-6 win. The match was tight throughout, with two video reviews and Laster escaping just before the final seconds of regulation ran out to send the match to overtime.
The Quakers would win the next four matches, starting with a 6-1 decision from No. 8 C.J. Cobb over Chris Perez. Cobb had takedowns in the first and third periods for the win. Brooks Martino followed with a 1-0 win over Rich Eva at 157. An escape from Martino six seconds into the third period was all the scoring needed.
The next two matches went to overtime, each going in favor of the Quakers. Ray Bethea returned to the lineup at 165 and knocked off No. 20 Jonathan Schleifer, 6-4. Schleifer scored first in the bout, but Bethea answered with a takedown of his own in the first period to lead, 3-2, after one. An escape for Schleifer tied the match through two periods, and Bethea would take the lead again after a second stalling warning on Schleifer in the third period. Schleifer would ride out in the final frame, though, forcing overtime. Bethea connected on the winning takedown on the edge in overtime, a takedown confirmed after video review.
Brad Wukie added a second straight Penn overtime win with a 10-8 decision over Judd Zeigler. Wukie dominated in the first period, scoring three takedowns to build a 6-3 lead. A fourth takedown from Wukie early in the third period appeared to ice the win, but Ziegler rallied with an escape and takedown of his own plus riding time to extend the bout. Wukie would end the match in the first period of overtime with a takedown.
Princeton started to think it could end Penn’s winning streak with Harner’s win over Thomas at 184. The match turned with a minute left in the first period as Harner won a scramble and locked up a cradle on Thomas. Harner was extremely close to pinning Thomas, but couldn’t secure the shoulders on the mat. Thomas would outscore Harner the rest of the way, but could not overcome the big deficit. Ayala’s win over Canaan Bethea came on the strength of a third-period takedown, the second 6-5 loss for Bethea to Ayala this season.
The second dual of the day saw Penn overcome a 6-0 deficit through two matches to down neighboring Drexel, 21-15.
In a matchup of two Top-20 wrestlers, No. 18 Caleb Richardson was defeated by No. 15 Kevin Devoy, 7-3. Devoy broke a scoreless tie with two nearfall points in the second period, but Richardson cut into the lead with a takedown early in the third. Devoy had riding time locked up, so Richardson had to cut him and look for another takedown. A last-second shot from Richardson didn’t connect, and Devoy circled for an insurance score to result in the final margin of defeat.
Jeff Canfora got Penn on the board with a 5-2 decision over David Pearce at 141, scoring a takedown in the first period and a reversal in the third. No. 8 C.J. Cobb followed with nine takedowns in his match with Geoffrey Verallis at 141 on his way to a 20-7 major decision.
A pair of 157-pounders jockeying for EIWA seeding position engaged in a high scoring affair, one that ultimately went to Noel Blanco over Brooks Martino, 15-10. Blanco led, 8-3, after one period, and Martino closed as close as 11-8 before Blanco scored a late takedown for separation.
Ray Bethea, Brad Wukie, No. 5 Lorenzo Thomas, and Canaan Bethea denied any Drexel momentum with three consecutive wins for the Quakers, including a 13-3 major decision for Wukie and a 14-4 major for Bethea.
At heavyweight, Patrik Garren and Joey Goodhart engaged in an entertaining match, one ultimately won by Goodhart with a pin in tiebreakers during what was a 3-3 match.
Penn’s next time on the mats will be at the EIWA Championships March 6-7 at Lehigh University.
Notes: Before the match, Penn’s six graduating seniors – Canaan Bethea, Geoffrey Bostany, Jeff Canfora, Anthony DiLonardo, Andrew Lenzi and Brad Wukie were honored … Penn’s seniors went 4-2 in competition Saturday … Penn won the takedown battle with Princeton, 21-11 … Penn won the takedown battle with Drexel, 28-7 … The 6-0 deficit to Drexel was the largest deficit Penn overcame in a dual meet to win this season …
Penn defeats Princeton, 19-12
125: Ryan Cash (Princeton) DEC Jeremy Schwartz (Penn) 9-5 Princeton leads, 3-0
133: No. 18 Caleb Richardson (Penn) MD Trey Aslanian (Princeton) 23-12 Penn leads, 4-3
141: Jordan Laster (Princeton) DEC Jeff Canfora (Penn) 7-6 (TB1) Princeton leads, 6-4
149: No. 8 CJ Cobb (Penn) DEC Chris Perez (Princeton) 6-1 Penn leads, 7-6
157: Brooks Martino (Penn) DEC Rich Eva (Princeton) 1-0 Penn leads, 10-6
165: Ray Bethea (Penn) DEC No. 20 Jonathan Schleifer (Princeton) 6-4 (SV) Penn leads, 13-6
174: Brad Wukie (Penn) DEC Judd Zeigler (Princeton) 10-8 (SV) Penn leads, 16-6
184: Brett Harner (Princeton) DEC No. 5 Lorenzo Thomas (Penn) 9-6 Penn leads 16-9
197: No. 12 Abe Ayala (Princeton) DEC Canaan Bethea (Penn) 6-5 Penn leads, 16-12
285: Patrik Garren (Penn) DEC Ray O’Donnell (Princeton) 7-4 Penn leads 19-12
Penn defeats Drexel 21-15
125: Zack Fuentes (Drexel) DEC Jeremy Schwartz (Penn) 4-0 Drexel leads, 3-0
133: No. 15 Kevin Devoy (Drexel) DEC No. 18 Caleb Richardson (Penn) 7-3 Drexel leads, 6-0
141: Jeff Canfora (Penn) DEC David Pearce (Drexel) 5-2 Drexel leads, 6-3
149: No. 8 CJ Cobb (Penn) MD Geoff Verallis (Drexel) 20-7 Penn leads, 7-6
157: Noel Blanco (Drexel) DEC Brooks Martino (Penn) 15-10 Drexel leads, 9-7
165: Ray Bethea (Penn) DEC Nick Elmer (Drexel) 8-3 Penn leads, 10-9
174: Brad Wukie (Penn) DEC Stephen Loiseau (Drexel) 13-3 Penn leads, 14-9
184: No. 5 Lorenzo Thomas (Penn) DEC Alex DeCiantis (Drexel) 4-1 Penn leads, 17-9
197: Canaan Bethea (Penn) MD Brandon Litten (Drexel) 14-4 Penn leads, 21-9
285: Joey Goodhart (Drexel) FALL Patrik Garren (Penn) 8:18 Penn leads, 21-15