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PHILADELPHIA - For most teams at Penn, the road to an Ivy League championship is a long one, filled with weeks of battles against conference rivals. The often-used adage of "it's a marathon, not a sprint" is appropriately joined to the Ivy title runs put together by Penn's football, volleyball, women's soccer and women's lacrosse teams over recent months. However, for Penn's wrestling team, an Ancient Eight crown is most definitely a sprint.
The Red and Blue have won 11 Ivy titles over the years, with the last one coming in the 2001-02 season. To put together a dozen titles, the Quakers need to simply dominate the next eight days. Starting with Saturday's duals against Brown (1 0 a.m.) and Harvard (2 p.m.), Penn wrestles all five Ivy opponents in just over a week. The Red and Blue have the advantage of starting the run in The Palestra, with its first three Ivy duals at home as Princeton comes to Philly on Sunday at 1 p.m. as well. Next weekend, the Quakers are at No. 1 in the country Cornell on Friday before ending Ancient Eight action Saturday in the Big Apple against Columbia.
Penn enters the weekend with a 6-4 record in dual meets and a 1-2 mark wrestling duals inside The Palestra this season. Brown is 0-7 overall in duals and is also wrestling its first Ivy competition of the season. Harvard is 1-9 overall and 0-0 n Ancient Eight action. By the time the Crimson arrive in University City, they will have already wrestled Princeton at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
In recent years, Penn has had a decided edge in the series with the three teams coming to Philadelphia this weekend, with 18 wins in a row over Brown, 20 consecutive wins over Harvard and 19 in a row over the Tigers. However, the Quakers cannot get complacent as every conference match is important and means so much to both sides.
In the opening dual, No. 6 Rollie Peterkin will take on Brown's Courtland Choate at 133 pounds. Choate is 6-13 this season at 133 pounds, but is capable of putting together a serious run as his fourth-place finish and automatic NCAA qualifying berth last season shows.
Harvard has No. 8 Walter Peppelman headlining its lineup. The 157-pounder is 19-4 entering the weekend and has won seven bouts in a row, outscoring opponents 57-9 over the current run. At 125, expect the latest in a good series between No. 19 Mark Rappo and Harvard's Steven Keith. The two have met four times in college, with Rappo holding a 3-1 edge. Already this season, Rappo has scored a pair of 9-7 wins over Keith at the Binghamton Open.
Sunday's dual with Princeton brings with it not only the normal excitement and importance of Penn-Princeton, but another important bout for Rappo as he makes his charge to the top seed at the EIWA Championships in March. His opponent will be Garret Frey, a wrestler ranked two spots ahead of him in the national polls and three spots ahead at No. 1 in the EIWA Coaches Rankings. Last year, Rappo defeated Frey, 3-2, in Princeton.
Probable Lineups for the Weekend:
Penn (6-4, 0-0 Ivy)
125 - No. 19 Mark Rappo, Jr. (20-5)
133 - No. 6 Rollie Peterkin, Sr. (19-2)
141 - No. 10 Zack Kemmerer, Sr. (27-5)
149 - Andrew Lenzi, Fr. (11-10)
157 - Brad Wukie, Fr. (7-11)
165 - No. 18 Gabriel Burak, Sr. (11-3)
174 - Scott Giffin, Sr. (8-5) or Canaan Bethea, Fr. (14-11)
184 - Erich Smith, Jr. (1-2) or Harrison Cook, So. (13-11)
197 - No. 6 Micah Burak, So. (21-3)
285 - Kyle Cowan, Fr. (14-11)
Brown (0-7, 0-0 Ivy)
125 - Billy Watterson, Fr. (6-11) or T.J. Popolizio, So. (0-0) or Beau Martino, Fr. (0-0)
133 - Cortland Choate, So. (6-13)
141 - Grant Overcashier, So. (6-7)
149 - Philip Marano, So. (4-6) or Giuseppi Lanzi, Fr. (5-6)
157 - Patrick Labuz, Fr. (4-6)
165 - Dave Foxen, Jr. (3-8) or Jeff Lemmer, So. (0-11)
174 - Brandon Vorrius, Fr. (3-10) or Seth Nolan, Fr. (0-5)
184 - Ziad Kharbush, Fr. (1-3)
197 - Brandon Shull, Jr. (5-10)
285 - Tyler Cowman, Fr. (1-11)
Harvard (1-9, 0-0 Ivy)
125 - Steven Keith, So. (14-10)
133 - Shay Warren, So. (4-5) or Fermin Mendez, Sr. (0-7)
141 - Joe Marino, Fr. (0-5)
149 - Joe Alie, Fr. (0-14)
157 - No. 8 Walter Peppelman, So. (19-4)
165 - Adam Hogue, So. (5-10)
174 - Ian Roy, Fr. (5-9) or David Lalo, So. (0-1)
184 - Cameron Croy, Fr. (9-14)
197 - Bryan Panzano, Jr. (2-13)
285 - Andrew Knapp, Sr. (3-4)
Princeton (3-7, 0-0 Ivy)
125 - No. 17 Garrett Frey, So. (21-5)
133 - Tony Communale, Jr. (6-8)
141 - Zach Bintliff, So. (11-10)
149 - Brandon Rolnick, Fr. (8-16)
157 - Daniel Kolodzik, Jr. (18-10)
165 - Andrew Lowy, Jr. (1-2)
174 - Ryan Callahan, Fr. (12-11)
184 - Travis Erdman, Sr. (13-10)
197 - Dan Santoro, Fr. (4-11)
285 - Charles Fox, So. (4-9)