PHILADELPHIA – After a successful 2-0 performance at home last weekend, the University of Pennsylvania’s wrestling team returns to the road this weekend for a pair of EIWA duals in New York. The Quakers will renew their rivalry with No. 6 Cornell on Saturday (1 p.m.) before visiting Binghamton on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Saturday’s tilt with the Big Red will be Penn’s fourth consecutive road match against a Top-25 opponent. The Quakers have yet to win one of those matches, dropping dual meets at No. 25 Rider, No. 10 Lehigh and No. 14 Iowa State as part of a 3-3 record this season.
In terms of Ivy League wrestling, the winner of the Penn-Cornell dual has gone on to win at least a share of the Ivy championship in each of the last 25 seasons. The last 12 have gone to the Big Red, as the Quakers enter Saturday’s dual looking to snap a 12-match skid at the hands of the Big Red. Prior to the current 12-match run in favor of Cornell, Penn had the better of the series with a 6-2-1 edge.
The 2014-15 Ivy race started to take shape last weekend as Cornell knocked off Harvard and Brown to open League competition.
A Penn win this weekend would snap two long-running streaks for the Big Red. The Big Red has won 65 consecutive Ivy League dual meets dating back to the 2001-02 season. The last Ivy team to knock off the Big Red was Penn – a 21-9 win at The Palestra on February 2, 2002. In addition, the Big Red has won 37 consecutive dual meets inside the EIWA dating back to 2010-11.
Penn’s road to victory in Ithaca likely will start with its two ranked wrestlers who will be taking on ranked opponents.
No. 5 Lorenzo Thomas will renew his rivalry with No. 1 Gabe Dean at 184 pounds, looking for his first win against Dean in official competition. The two met three times last season, each going the way of Dean. After a 7-5 match in the dual meet, Dean would score a 3-1 win in the EIWA final before knocking off Thomas in the consolation semifinals at NCAAs where both earned All-American honors. Thomas does have victories over Dean, besting the Big Red grappler during the 2012-13 season when both were competing unattached.
Thomas is 17-2 this season, with his only losses coming to No. 2 Max Thomusseit of Pitt and No. 4 Jack Dechow of Old Dominion. Dean is 25-2 this season, and coming off a title run at the Southern Scuffle where he pinned Thomusseit. One of Dean’s losses this season came to North Dakota State’s Hayden Zillmer, a wrestler Thomas beat at the Southern Scuffle.
At 149 pounds, No. 14 C.J. Cobb will tangle with No. 7 Chris Villalonga. Cobb is 7-3 this season and 2-0 all-time against Cornell wrestlers. Each time he has lined up against a Big Red grappler, Cobb has knocked off a ranked opponent. In 2011, he defeated No. 18 Joe Stanzione at 133 pounds, 10-6. In 2012-13, he defeated No. 6 Mike Nevinger in a dual meet at 141, 7-3. Villalonga has been in and out of the lineup at points this season, but has built a 17-1 record with titles at the Bearcat open and the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas. His only loss has come to No. 2 David Habat of Edinboro.
A potential swing match in the dual comes at 133 pounds where Caleb Richardson will likely take on No. 15 Mark Grey. Richardson is having a breakout season, with a 17-7 record after going 12-11 last year. He has two wins already this season over Top-20 opponents. Grey is 11-5 this season, splitting time between 133 and 141. He has only been down at 133 for four matches this season, posting a 2-2 record.
On Sunday, Penn will wrestle a Binghamton team which enters the weekend with a 4-6 record and will wrestle Drexel on Friday. Last weekend, Binghamton split a pair of duals, defeating Hofstra by a 19-6 score and falling to Columbia, 19-18.
David White, a NCAA qualifier at 125 last season, is 14-11 this year and 6-4 in dual meets. He was eighth at Midlands this season. Heavyweight Tyler Deuel is 14-4 overall and 8-2 in dual meets this year.
Last year, Penn defeated Binghamton, 22-13, in a dual meet at The Palestra. The only likely rematch from that dual could come at 125 pounds where last year White knocked off Jeremy Schwartz, 6-2. Jeff Canfora, Ray Bethe and Lorenzo Thomas all had wins in the dual last year and are likely to return to action on Sunday.
Penn’s Probable Lineup for Cornell/Binghamton
125: Jeremy Schwartz, So. (1-3)
133: Caleb Richardson, So. (17-7)
141: Jeff Canfora, Sr. (8-7) or Andrew Lenzi, Sr. (4-5)
149: No. 14 C.J. Cobb , Sr. (7-3)
157: May Bethea, Fr. (8-8) or Brooks Martino, Jr. (7-7)
165: Ray Bethea, So. (4-2) or Quinton Hiles, So. (9-11)
174: Brad Wukie, Sr. (5-4)
184: No. 5 Lorenzo Thomas, Sr. (17-2)
197: Canaan Bethea, Sr. (7-3)
285: Patrik Garren, Fr. (10-8)
125: No. 3 Nahshon Garrett, Jr. (15-2)
133: No. 15 Mark Grey, So. (11-5) or Bricker Dixon, Sr. (7-6)
141: Ryan Dunphy, Sr. (4-5) or Logan David, Jr. (7-6)
149: No. 7 Chris Villalonga, Sr. (17-1)
157: No. 7 Brian Realbuto, So. (6-2)
165: No. 11 Dylan Palacio, So. (8-2)
174: Duke Pickett, Jr. (17-4)
184: No. Gabe Dean, So. (25-2)
197: No. 154 Jace Bennett, Sr. (24-8)
285: Jacob Aiken-Phillips, Sr. 6-10)
125: David White (14-11)
133: Joe Nelson (3-6)
141: Dylan Caruana (13-12)
149: Nick Tighe (8-9)
157: Vincent DePrez (16-10)
165: Zack Zupan (14-11)
174: Steve Schneider (13-13)
184: Jack McKeever (15-7)
197: Caleb Wallace (8-10)
Hwt: Tyler Deuel (14-4)