PHILADELPHIA – March “Matness” is upon us as the University of Pennsylvania wrestling team heads to Lehigh University for the 111th EIWA Championships March 6-7 at Stabler Arena.
Friday, March 6
10 a.m. – Championship First Round
12:30 p.m. – Championship Quarterfinals and Wrestlebacks
2:45 p.m. – Wrestleback Second Round
Saturday March 7
10 a.m. – Championship Semifinals and Wrestleback Third Round
12:30 p.m. – Seventh Place Matches and Wrestleback Semifinals
5 p.m. – EIWA Hall of Fame Ceremony, Championship Finals, Third and Fifth Place Matches
Penn enters the EIWA Championships ranked No. 24 as a team in InterMat’s Tournament Power Index and primed to repeat its performance at the 2010 EIWA Championships – the last one held at Lehigh – where the Quakers stormed to a second place finish in the team standings with nine individual placewinners.
The Quakers have eight wrestlers included in the tournament’s preseeds, led by C.J. Cobb – the likely No. 1 seed at 149 pounds. Caleb Richardson will likely draw the No. 3 seed at 133 pounds after a breakthrough season which saw him win a team-high 23 matches.
A host of Quakers are looming in the No. 4 seed range, including returning All-American Lorenzo Thomas at 184 pounds. Thomas is 22-4 overall this season, but his losses to Cornell’s Gabe Dean and Princeton’s Brett Harner have him looking at the four seed. An EIWA finalist last season, Thomas could see Dean once more in the semis if the draw holds.
Another EIWA finalist from 2014 who is likely to fall into a No. 4 seed is Brad Wukie at 174 pounds. Wukie turned the No. 8 seed last year into a finals run and automatic NCAA bid.
Canaan Bethea is the pressed No. 4 at 197 pounds after a late scratch of Harvard’s James Fox. His brother, Ray, is also a No. 4 preseed – earning the spot at 165 pounds. He does own a win over Army’s Cole Gracey, the wrestler ranked above him, so that seed could be up for discussion, though.
Jeff Canfora is preseeded No. 7 at 141 pounds. He has wrestled five of the six wrestlers ranked ahead of him – the only one he hasn’t seen yet this season in the No. 2 preseed, Jamel Hudson of Hofstra.
In his first EIWAs, Brooks Martino is likely to be the No. 8 seed at 157 pounds. He is a wrestler to watch out for, though, with a close loss to the No. 1 seed and a win over the No. 3 seed.
Two other Quakers making their EIWA debuts, 125 pounder Jeremy Schwartz and heavyweight Patrik Garren, are likely to be unseeded but have waded through the EIWA schedule this season and have a familiarity with most likely opponents. Wins from Schwartz and Garren would go a long way to putting Penn in position to challenge for a top team finish.
In terms of where the Quakers need to finish this weekend at EIWAs to secure automatic entry to the NCAA Championships, the EIWA will wrestle for the following automatic qualifying spots as earned by conference wrestlers during the regular season:
Over the past 24 years, Penn has had 72 wrestlers reach the EIWA finals, with at least one Quaker in the finals each of those 24 tournaments. Only Lehigh and Cornell can boast a similar stretch of finalists, with the Big Red totaling 90 finalists and the Mountain Hawks with 76. Last year, Penn placed four wrestlers at EIWAs and qualified four wrestlers for NCAAs.
The Quakers have finished sixth or higher in 20 of the last 21 EIWA Championships, last year’s 10th place finish ending that run. Prior to last year, Penn’s lowest finish at EIWAs was sixth in 1994. The Quakers have finished in the Top-3 at EIWAs in 15 of the last 19 tournaments.
Download: 2015 EIWA Media Notes.pdf