It was a year ago this weekend when the Princeton wrestling team made its biggest jump under head coach Chris Ayres. The team won four road matches in New England, including an Ivy League pair against Harvard and Brown. This weekend, the Tigers will look to match that success Saturday when it welcomes both to Dillon Gym, and they will try to top it Sunday at 1 when they take on #20 Penn at The Palestra. Both home matches will be streamed live on GoPrincetonTigers.com.
Coming off a disappointing loss at Virginia last weekend, Princeton will attempt to right the ship when it begins Ivy League competition in Dillon Gym Saturday at 10 a.m. against Harvard. Following alumni matches at 12:30, also at Dillon, there will be an alumni event in the Friend Center at 2 p.m. The day will conclude back in Dillon at 5 p.m. with an Ivy League matchup against Brown.
Princeton, which is 2-1 in EIWA duals this season, has not won back-to-back team duals against either Harvard or Brown since the 1986 and 1987 seasons. The Tigers have been led by senior captain Travis Erdman, who has 13 wins on the season, including four in his last five matches. Erdman will be honored Saturday as the only senior in the program and a member of Ayres' first recruiting class at Princeton.
“Travis’ leadership has critically impacted our team,” said nationally ranked sophomore Garrett Frey (125). “When he speaks, people listen, whether they like what he has to say or not. He takes full responsibility for our shortcomings, but at the same time he takes zero credit for our successes. Without him, our team wouldn’t be near where we are today, and he is a vital key to what we will achieve at the end of the year, both individually and collectively.”
Erdman swept both of his matches during the Harvard-Brown victories last season, including a second-period pin at Brown that provided the winning margin in a 21-15 win.
“That road trip was so special," Erdman said. "Winning those four matches showed us that we were tough enough and good enough to wrestle with anybody.”
Erdman will be one of a number of Princeton wrestlers who will be looking to both help the team get into Ivy League contention and battle for EIWA seedings this weekend. One of the biggest opportunities for Princeton will come early, when junior Daniel Kolodzik (157) brings a seven-match win streak into his morning showdown with Harvard's Walter Peppelman, the eighth-ranked wrestler in the nation according to InterMat. Peppelman is 19-4 on the season, while Kolodzik is 18-10 and can achieve his first 20-win season with a Saturday sweep.
Brown will be looking for a big effort from freshman Cort Choate, who has six victories at 133 pounds. He will likely face another six-win competitor in junior Tony Comunale, who was also part of Ayres' first recruiting class before an injury cost him the 2008-09 season.
On Sunday, Princeton will head to the Palestra to take on Penn. The Tigers, who haven't beaten Penn since an 18-15 victory in 1991, fell by 12 points to the Quakers last season; that was the smallest final deficit in this rivalry since 2003. The biggest individual match of the day will take place at 125, where Frey will take on Penn junior Mark Rappo. Frey is ranked 17th nationally, while Rappo is 19th, and both are in contention for the top seed in the EIWA Championships.
Another interesting showdown could take place at 174 between Princeton freshman Ryan Callahan and Penn freshman Canaan Bethea. Those two met for the 171-pound New Jersey state championship last year, a match Callahan won 8-3. Callahan won a two-point decision over Bethea in an early-season tournament this year.
|#17 Garrett Frey||Steven Keith||125||
Billy Watterson/TJ Popolizio/
|#19 Mark Rappo
|Tony Comunale||Shay Warren/
|133||Cort Choate||#5 Rollie Peterkin
|Zach Bintliff|| Joe Marino
||141||Grant Overcashier||#10 Zack Kemmerer|
|Brandon Rolnick|| Joe Alie
||149||Phil Marano/Giuseppi Lanzi||Andrew Lenzi|
|Daniel Kolodzik|| #8 Walter Peppelman
||157||Pat Labuz||Brad Wukie
|Andy Lowy||Adam Hogue
||165||Dave Foxen/Jeff Lemmer||#18 Gabriel Burak|
|Ryan Callahan|| Ian Roy/David Lalo
||174||Brandon Vorrius/Seth Nolan||Scott Giffin/Canaan Bethea|
|Travis Erdman|| Cameron Croy
||184||Ziad Kharbush||Erich Smith/Harrison Cook
|Dan Santoro|| Bryan Panzano
||197||Brandon Shull||#6 Micah Burak|
|Charles Fox|| Andrew Knapp
||285||Tyler Cowman||Kyle Cowan