PHILADELPHIA – In his first year at the helm of the University of Pennsylvania’s wrestling program, Alex Tirapelle is finding comfort on home mats. The Quakers defeated a pair of EIWA and Ivy League rivals on Saturday, improving Tirapelle’s record in home duals to a perfect 4-0.
The Quakers bested Brown, 29-6, in the first dual of the day before finishing the sweep with a 26-13 win over Harvard.
Penn (6-4, 4-2 EIWA, 2-1 Ivy) won 14 bouts over the course of the two matches, including eight with bonus points.
The second dual of the day was Penn’s first-ever contested inside Rockwell Gymnasium, and Penn felt right at home with a 26-13 win over Harvard. A forfeit at 125 to Jeremy Schwartz and a major decision from No. 19 Caleb Richardson enabled the Red and Blue to pull out in front early, 10-0, and the Quakers never looked back.
Jeff Canfora took No. 15 Todd Preston to overtime at 141, but the defending EIWA champion secured the winning score early in overtime for a 4-2 decision.
Senior Andrew Lenzi stuffed any possible Harvard momentum with a first-period fall at 149 pounds. Lenzi stuck Nick Stager in 1:22, turning an early takedown into a cradle for the pin.
At 157, May Bethea followed with Penn’s fourth bonus-point win in five bouts with a 14-4 major decision over Colby Knight. Bethea had five takedowns in the win, two in each of the first two periods. In the second period, he added three backpoints to pull away for the major.
After a loss from Quinton Hiles to Devon Gobbo at 165, Brad Wukie played the strategy game at 174 for a 3-2 win. Wukie scored a takedown in the first period, but entered the third tied following a pair of Josef Johnson escapes. With 1:09 of riding time, Wukie elected to start the third period neutral and the decision paid off as he defended well through the third period for the one-point win.
No. 5 Lorenzo Thomas continued his strong stretch of wins with a 12-1 major decision over Josh Popple. Thomas led, 4-0, after two periods, but opened up his match with two takedowns and three nearfall and 3:00 of riding time for the convincing win.
Things got hectic at 197 between Canaan Bethea and No. 14 James Fox in a crucial match for both in terms of EIWA seeding. After a scoreless first period, Fox broke the tie with an escape and a takedown early in the second. Bethea countered with a reversal, but was quickly reversed back by Fox. Undeterred, Bethea would reverse for a second time in the period to enter the third trailing. 5-4. Fox would elect to grant Bethea an escape before the start of the third period and that point would be the only one of the final frame, sending the bout to overtime. Bethea was in deep on a shot on the edge in the final seconds of sudden victory, but time ran out. In the tiebreaker periods, Bethea rode Fox for the full 30 seconds, but picked up a stalling warning after not climbing back up within the allotted five seconds. In the next period of tiebreaker, Bethea escaped to take a one point lead. Off a restart with 0:03 remaining, Bethea was called for stalling while blocking a fox shot and the resulting penalty point tied the match and sent it to a second period of sudden victory. Bethea was rattled, and Fox pounced for a takedown off the whistle. At the conclusion of the match, a team point was taken from Penn’s score after a third bench warning.
The match finished with an 8-0 major decision for David Ng over Patrik Garren.
After a loss in the opening bout, the Quakers would win the next four matches to take a 13-3 lead. The highlight win came from Brooks Martino, as he knocked off No. 20 Justin Staudenmayer, 2-1, in a tiebreaker. After a scoreless first period, Martino rode Staudenmayer for the first minute of the second period, needing that minute of riding time to tie the match after neither man scored in the third period. Martino would gain the decisive point on a locked hands call on Staudenmayer in the waning seconds of the first tiebreaker, then he staved off a Staudenmayer reversal attempt to secure the win.
The Quakers would close the dual with wins in the final four matches, the biggest win coming for No. 5 Lorenzo Thomas at 184 via a major decision over fellow returning All-American Ophir Bernstein. Thomas scored a takedown in the first period, adding two nearfall points for a 4-0 lead. In the second, he reversed Bernstein and tacked on three more nearfall for a 9-0 lead after two periods. In the third, Bernstein was able to counter a Thomas shot for a takedown, but Thomas held on to extend his run of victories over Bernstein to five in a row.
The win for Thomas was sandwiched around two quality wins for seniors Brad Wukie and Canaan Bethea. Wukie turned a 1-0 deficit in the second period to a 4-1 lead with a takedown and two nearfall en route to a 5-1 decision over Ricky McDonald. Bethea scored four takedowns in his match against Sebastien Levin, including three in the first period, to cruse to a 9-4 decision.
No. 19 Caleb Richardson improved to 20-7 this season with a 16-5 major decision over Zeke Salvo. Richardson had five takedowns and 2:29 of riding time on his way to the victory. Jeff Canfora opened up in the third period, regrouping after Anthony Finocchiaro rode him the entire second period to score three takedowns in the third frame en route to an 11-5 win. No. 10 C.J. Cobb rounded out Penn’s winners against the Bears with a gutty 4-2 win over Steven Galiardo. Cobb scored the match’s only takedown in the first period, and didn’t get frustrated, adding an escape and a point for stalling against Galiardo.
Penn is one the road for one final dual meet this season, heading to the Big Apple for a Valentine’s Day date with Columbia on February 14 at 7 p.m.
Notes: Penn had the takedown edge against Brown, 17-6 … Penn had the takedown edge against Harvard, 14-8 … Caleb Richardson, Lorenzo Thomas and Brad Wukie each went 2-0 for the day … Penn has won five consecutive home dual meets.