The Princeton men’s wrestling team faced a busy intersession weekend as they competed in three meets over two days.
On Saturday, the Tigers, coming off a narrow defeat to Binghamton University, hosted Franklin and Marshall and Ivy League rival Penn. Princeton scored a decisive 35-6 victory over Franklin and Marshall; though the Diplomats won the first two matches in the 133 and 141 pound categories, Princeton responded with an unyielding streak of eight victories to clinch a win.
Taking on the Quakers was a much more difficult task. Princeton came into the meet on a 24-match losing streak to Penn, but the Tigers were determined that this year be different. Junior Jordan Laster won an early victory in the 141 pound category against his opponent, putting the Tigers on the scoreboard. The next two Tiger wrestlers, senior Chris Perez and senior Adam Krop, faced a daunting task: squaring off against Penn’s 10th-ranked CJ Cobb and 20th-ranked May Bethea, respectively. Both wrestlers performed admirably, with Krop defeating his opponent 10-5 and Perez falling 3-0 after an impressive, hard-fought effort.
Despite another win from senior Judd Ziegler, the Tigers trailed Penn 15-9 with only three matches to go. However, Princeton immediately turned the tables with a 15-3 victory from 11th-ranked Brett Harner in the 197 pound category. Junior Ray O’Donnell then won another close match against a familiar opponent, Penn’s Patrik Garren (the two had wrestled against each other twice the previous year). Thus, the meet came down to the last matchup, the 125 pound category. New Jersey state champion and freshman Pat D’Arcy more than embraced the challenge: in a thrilling 3-2 victory, he overcame his Penn opponent and clinched the win for Princeton, ending the Tigers’ losing streak and bringing them to 1-0 in Ivy League play.
Princeton attempted to continue this momentum in its Sunday match against New Jersey rival and Big Ten wrestling powerhouse Rutgers, currently ranked 12th in the nation. The Tigers were seeking to end a 19-game losing streak to the Scarlet Knights, but Rutgers’s talent and depth ultimately proved too much for the Tigers to handle in a 28-6 loss for Princeton. Rutgers had six ranked wrestlers on the mat, including sixth-ranked Anthony Ashnault. Though Rutgers won eight of the 10 fiercely-contested matches, two Princeton wrestlers came away with individual victories. Eleventh-ranked junior Brett Harner added to his impressive resume of wins with another victory over opponent Hayden Hramack, while 14th-ranked sophomore Jonathan Schleifer also came away with a win.
Despite eventually falling to Rutgers, Princeton can look upon its upcoming conference play with some confidence, having just won its first Ivy League matchup. Next week, the Tigers will travel to face off against Harvard and Brown and hope to continue their pattern of success this season.