PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania’s wrestling team returns to home mats on Saturday, hosting a pair of Ivy League dual meets against Brown and Harvard. The Quakers will take on the Bears in the Palestra at 1 p.m. before competing against Harvard in Rockwell Gymnasium at 6 p.m.
Penn (4-4, 2-2 EIWA) is looking for its first win against an Ivy League opponent this season, having dropped their only Ivy dual of the season at No. 6 Cornell on January 24. The Quakers lost to the Big Red, 26-9, keeping the dual closer than either Brown (33-9) or Harvard (30-8) were able to do.
The Red and Blue were able to follow up the loss to the Big Red with a 26-10 win at Binghamton the next day, giving head coach Alex Tirapelle his first true road victory at Penn.
The Quakers enter the weekend with three wrestlers ranked inside this week’s InterMat Top-20, led by No. 5 Lorenzo Thomas at 184 pounds. Thomas is 18-3 this season and leads the squad with 10 bonus-point wins. He will renew his rivalry with Brown’s Ophir Bernstein this weekend. Last year, the two met four times – all wins for Thomas – including an 8-5 decision in the consolation quarterfinals after each wrestler had secured All-American honors. This year, Bernstein is 22-10, with nine falls. He opened the season ranked No. 5 in the nation, but has not been in the rankings since Midlands where he did not place following an injury suffered late in the tournament.
Penn will be looking to answer a tough 18-16 loss at Brown last season. The Red and Blue rallied from an early 6-0 deficit to take a 13-6 lead after 165 pounds and again led, 16-9, after 184 pounds. At 197, Gus Marker worked a defensive fall on Frank Mattiace late in the third period to bring Brown within one. A win from the Bears at heavyweight resulted in Penn’s first loss to Brown in 21 years. The Thomas-Bernstein match is the only likely rematch from last year’s dual.
In the nightcap, Penn will take on a Harvard team which is 1-4 in dual meets and 0-3 against EIWA opponents. Todd Preston, ranked No. 15 at 141 pounds, is the defending EIWA champion and was a Round of 12 finisher at NCAAs last season. He was champion at the Keystone Classic earlier this season, and reached the Round of 12 at both the Cliff Keen Las Vegas and Midlands tournaments. Last year in the dual meet, he edged Jeff Canfora, 6-2.
No. 14 James Fox is 12-3 at 197 pounds this season, and twice has qualified for the NCAA Championships. He was third this season at Midlands.
Last year in the dual meet, Penn built a 9-0 lead after two matches and led by a score of 20-3 following 165 pounds. The Crimson won three of the final four bouts, but could not make the comeback. The Preston-Canfora match is the lone rematch on the scheduled card for Saturday.
Brown’s Probable Lineup