PHILADELPHIA – After a long wait, the University of Pennsylvania wrestling team will finally take to the mats in a dual meet on Sunday when the Quakers host No. 10 Lehigh in The Palestra at 1 p.m. Tickets are on sale now, with fans able to purchase advanced tickets for $6.50.
The Red and Blue will be the final Division I wrestling program to compete in a dual meet in the 2015-16 season, and will look to make a statement against a Mountain Hawks team which enters with a 7-1 record overall and wins in five consecutive duals.
Setting The Table
The 56th installment of the Penn-Lehigh rivalry is setting up to be another tight match with a total of ten ranked wrestlers scheduled to compete. Every weight except 133 pounds will have at least one wrestler included in this week’s Intermat rankings, and 133 pounds will feature two veteran wrestlers who have five NCAA Championships berths between them.
125: Jeremy Schwartz (Penn) vs. No. 13 Darian Cruz (Lehigh)
133: Caleb Richardson (Penn) vs. Mason Beckman (Lehigh)
141: Marc Mastropietro or A.J. Vindici (Penn) vs. No. 19 Randy Cruz (Lehigh)
149: No. 11 C.J. Cobb (Penn) vs. Laike Gardner (Lehigh)
157: May Bethea or Brooks Martino (Penn) vs. No. 8 Mitch Minotti or Ian Brown (Lehigh)
165: Ray Bethea (Penn) vs. No. 16 Ryan Preisch (Lehigh)
174: No. 16 Casey Kent (Penn) vs. Elliot Riddick or Gordon Wolf (Lehigh)
184: No. 11 Lorenzo Thomas (Penn) or Joe Heyob vs. No. 3 Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh)
197: Frank Mattiace (Penn) vs. No. 15 John Bollich (Lehigh)
285: Patrik Garren (Penn) vs. No. 12 Max Wessell (Lehigh)
The All-Time Series
Penn is 10-44-1 all-time against Lehigh. However, since the rivalry renewed in 1996, Penn is 7-13 against the Mountain Hawks. Inside The Palestra, the Quakers are 6-19 all-time, and 4-6 since 1996. The last win for the Quakers over Lehigh in The Palestra came in 2008, a 24-15 victory on February 24.
Quakers Riding Win Streaks into Season Opener
It’s been a while, but the most recent dual meets for Penn have been successful. The Quakers ended 2014-15 on a six-match winning streak, the longest since a seven-match run from January 27-February 24 in 2013. The Quakers were a perfect 6-0 in dual meets at home last season, and have won their last seven dual meets inside The Palestra dating back to the close of the 2014-14 season. A win on Sunday would give Penn its longest run of wins on home mats since winning eight in a row from 11/22/08-2/7/09.
Last Time Against Lehigh
Penn visited Grace Hall last year, taking on a Lehigh team which was also ranked No. 10. An undermanned Penn team which was missing five eventual EIWA starters fell behind, 25-0, before splitting the final four bouts in a 31-6 loss. C.J. Cobb and Joe Heyob had the wins for Penn in the dual meet. The only expected rematch from last year’s dual will come at 133 where Caleb Richardson and Mason Beckman will meet.
Both Squads Coming Off Scuffle Success
The two teams will be making a quick turnaround from the grueling Southern Scuffle held January 1-2 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Lehigh finished third overall, placing eight wrestlers, while Penn was 10th with two placewinners. Expected rematches from last weekend will come at 157, where Minotti defeated May Bethea, 2-0, and at 184 where Nathaniel Brown defeated Lorenzo Thomas, 5-3.
Casey Kent Climbs National Rankings
After a year away from competition due to injury, Casey Kent exploded onto the national radar at the Southern Scuffle with a 7-1 performance to earn third place. Included in his run was an 8-5 decision over Cornell’s No. 1 Brian Realbuto – the first win for a Penn wrestler over the country’s No. 1 wrestler in a weight class since Micah Burak defeated Dustin Kilgore at 197 pounds in 2010 at the Southern Scuffle. Kent is ranked No. 16 this week by Intermat – his first ranking from Intermat this season. Around the other national polls, he is as high as No. 10 (Flowrestling) and No. 11 (Amateur Wrestling News).
Thomas Takes Fourth at Scuffle
Lorenzo Thomas was 4-2 at the Scuffle to finish fourth. Seeded No. 3, both of his losses came to nationally ranked wrestlers. In addition to his loss to Brown, he was edged, 10-7, by Navy’s Mat Miller in the medal match after a late nearfall sequence for the Midshipman. Thomas is hovering around the Top-10 nationally, ranked No. 11 by Intermat and No. 9 by Flowrestling.
Lorenzo Closing in on Win #100
The four wins at the Southern Scuffle improved Lorenzo’s career record to 97-30. He is now three wins away from becoming just the 11 Penn Wrestler to reach the 100-win mark in the 111 seasons of wrestling at the University. Thomas has been tested during his career – of his 30 career losses, 23 have come at the hands of nationally-ranked wrestlers and 19 have come to wrestlers inside the Top-10.
Penn Looking for Win Over Ranked Opponent
Penn’s last win over a team ranked in the NWCA Division I Top-25 came against Lehigh on December 1, 2012 via a 24-12 victory in Bethlehem. The Quakers have not defeated a Top-10 team since a 26-15 win over No. 3 Iowa State on January 17, 2004.