Penn vs. Maryland/UNC/Gloucester Game Notes
PHILADELPHIA It has been 91 days since Penn’s wrestling team has rolled out the mats in The Palestra for a home meet. Over the course of the road trip, the Quakers have traveled 5, 503 miles including two trips across the country for matches in Arizona and Las Vegas. The Red and Blue’s road swing finishes this weekend as they welcome Gloucester County, North Carolina and #21 Maryland to its home gym on Saturday, February 2 for a series of dual meets. Matches start at 10 am against Gloucester, followed by the Terps at noon and the Tar Heels at 2 pm.
The Quakers are hoping that home cooking and The Palestra crowd wake the team out of a recent slump. Penn is on a three-match snide since starting with a loss to third-ranked Oklahoma State at the Virginia Duals. Last weekend, saw the team drop a match to #12 Hofstra, 25-11, that was closer than the score indicates. Three of Penn’s losses came by a total of six points, and could have gone either way. Even the match that resulted in a pinfall for the Pride was going Penn’s way until heavyweight Trey McLean was reversed into a quick pinning predicament and couldn’t escape. #14 Cesar Grajales continued his stellar wrestling at 149 pounds, scoring a technical fall with a 24-8 win in the most dominating performance of the day for either team.
The Terrapins enter the weekend riding an eight-match winning streak, most recently defeating both N.C. State (27-12) and Duke (33-5) in dual meets held in College Park, Md. The strength of the Terps’ lineup comes at the heavier weights, where they boast three ranked wrestlers - #9 Mike Letts (174 pounds), #18 Josh Haines (184 pounds) and #7 Hudson Taylor (197 pounds). Taylor has a winning streak of his own, emerging victorious in 17 straight matches dating back to November 24 of last year. Ten of those wins have come by way of fall.
Maryland’s fellow ACC member, North Carolina, enters at 6-4 in duals this season, including wins over Ivy League schools, Brown (28-3) and Harvard (35-3) at the Lone Star Duals. The Tar Heels have two wrestlers ranked in the top-20 - #13 Keegan Mueller (165 pounds) and #18 Justin Dobies (HWT). Mueller hasn’t seen the loss column in 14 matches since a loss in the third round of the Cliff Keen Invitational in November. He rebounded to finish third at that tournament and hasn’t looked back. His dual match results have been particularly impressive. He has four major decisions and a tech fall while shutting out his opponent three times. Dobies has won nine straight bouts and his 21-5 record included a win over Trey McLean via an 8-1 decision at the Cliff Keen in November. Penn’s Grajales and UNC’s Vincent Ramirez have also met this season, with Grajales taking a close, 3-2 decision in Las Vegas.
Gloucester is the defending 2007 NJCAA National champions and has won six national titles in the past twelve years.
In addition to Penn’s three matches, neighboring Drexel will be hosting two matches in The Palestra on Saturday. The Dragons will wrestle a pair of Tobacco Road schools N.C. State at 10 am and North Carolina and noon.
You can follow all the Quaker wrestling action via the Penn Sports Network at www.pennathletics.com.