PHILADLEPHIA - The 2010-11 wrestling season begins for Penn on Sunday when the Quakers take to the mats at the wwsport.com/Binghamton Open in New York. The first tournament of the year in no way can be called a warm-up or preseason as Penn is slated for competition against some of the top teams in the nation - including No. 1 Cornell, EIWA rival Army and CAA stalwarts Binghamton and Old Dominion.
As is the case with most early-season open tournaments, the Quakers are bringing a mixed squad to Binghamton, with eight veteran grapplers and three newcomers to Penn Wrestling set to make their debut. On the tentative lineup for Penn this weekend are: Mark Rappo (125), Karim Shafi (125), Zack Ellis (133), Rollie Peterkin (133), Zack Kemmerer (141), Troy Hernandez (149), Canaan Bethea (174), Harrison Cook (184), Micah Burak (197) and Kyle Cowan (285).
Wrestling is slated to begin at 9 a.m. on Sunday at the Events Center on Binghamton's campus, lasting throughout 8 p.m. Updated brackets will be posted throughout the day at www.bubearcats.com.
The Quakers are set for a 2010-11 season featuring four in-season tournaments and 16 duals - including four against preseason Top 25 teams.
Penn enters the year with a roster of 28 wrestlers looking to keep up the momentum developed with a second-place finish at the EIWA Championships in March and the program's first All-American (Scott Giffin at 174 pounds) since 2007. In total, seven wrestlers who have competed at the NCAA Championships are on Penn's roster, giving the Quakers a veteran flare as they begin the drive to the NCAA Championships in Philadelphia March 17-20 at the Wells Fargo Center.
A look at the Quakers, starting with 125 pounds...
125 - Mark Rappo enjoyed a breakout season at 125 in 2009-10 for the Quakers, with a career-high 15 wins (11-5) in duals as he carried the mantle at 125 in all of Penn's dual meets. He was a second-team All-Ivy selection (4-1) and finished in eighth place at the EIWA Championships. He is joined by sophomore Karim Shafi at 125. Shafi is a transfer to Penn after spending his first collegiate season as a redshirt at Virginia. A Delaware native, Shafi was Tower Hill School's first conference champion in 11 years as a senior and was honorable mention All-State.
133 - Rollie Peterkin has twice advanced to the Round of 12 at the NCAA Championships while wrestling at 125 pounds and moves up to 133 for his senior season. Peterkin is one of the elite wrestlers at this weight in the nation, ranking as high as six in the national polls. A 2008 EIWA champion, Peterkin also has a title win at the prestigious Las Vegas Invitational and 72 career wins entering the season. Another veteran at 133 pounds is Bryan Ortenzio. An NCAA qualifier at 133 in 2010, Ortenzio has 73 career wins, including a 31-13 season in 09-10. Senior Marty Borowsky is slated for time at 133 this season, hoping to return to form after battling shoulder injuries the last two seasons. In his freshman season, Borowsky was 10-3 at 125 pounds and could move down to that weight as well. Zack Ellis is back as well for Penn at 133 for his junior year, after a brief jump to 149 for a pair of late-season duals in 2009-10. Freshman Geoffrey Bostany, the 2010 Alabama state champion at 135 pounds, is the newcomer at this weight, ready to give Penn fans a glimpse of the future with a veteran-heavy presence at 133 right now.
141 - Zack Kemmerer came to form in 2009-10, claiming third place at the EIWA Championships and making his first trip to the NCAA Championships after a 29-13 season. He went 11-5 in duals while also placing in five different tournaments over the course of the season. This season, he enters the year as the preseason No. 1 in the EIWA and will be looking to raise his level of wrestling to make a run at the NCAA Championships. Joining Kemmerer at 141 pounds is a pair of freshmen - Andrew Lenzi and Jordan Michelson. Lenzi is a two-time New York state champion, with wins at 130 pounds in 2008 and 135 pounds in 2010. Michelson was the New England champion at 140 pounds, finishing his senior season with a 50-0 record while earning Boston Globe and Boston Herald Wrestler of the Year honors.
149 - Troy Hernandez is the probable starter at 149 for the Quakers in his sophomore season after putting together a solid freshman campaign. He wrestled in 12 duals for the Quakers and came up with big points frequently. In addition to Hernandez, senior Jake Hunter has 32 career matches to his resume and provides veteran depth and leadership.
157 - A veteran and freshman are set to man the 157-pound weightclass for Penn this season as Tom Timothy and Brad Wukie take over for graduated Matt Dragon. Timothy has wrestled 49 matches for the Quakers over his career, and went 11-8 last year. In his freshman season, Timothy went 12-7 while wrestling at 157. Wukie, the Ohio state champion at 160 pounds in 2010, never finished lower than sixth at the Ohio state meet and finished second at the Ironman tournament in 2009.
165 - One of 2009-10's biggest revelations was Gabriel Burak at 165 pounds. He won 34 matches, qualified for his first NCAA Championships and set a new Penn record for falls in a season with 12. He is back for this season, looking to take the next step on the national scene in his senior season. Two sophomores are also in the mix at 165 - Shane Millam and Michael Steltenkamp. Both men are still looking to make their mark on the Penn wrestling legacy, with Steltenkamp only wrestling five matches in 2009-10 and Millam yet to make his collegiate debut.
174 - Penn returns an All-American at 174 in senior Scott Giffin who finished seventh at 174 at the NCAA Championships last March. He is a three-time NCAA qualifier and enters the season in the Top 7 in every national poll. Last year, he was 28-7 and brings 66 career wins over three seasons into his senior campaign. Two freshmen will have plenty to look up to at 174 as they begin their collegiate careers - Zach Agostino and Canaan Bethea. A multiple-time district and regional champ in New Jersey, Agostino was seventh at the state meet last year is a two-time NHSCA High School All-America. Bethea, the New Jersey runner-up at 171 last season, was the 12th-ranked 171-pounder in the country by InterMat last season. He finished with 134 career wins, including a 32-1 record last season. Both of these wrestlers could see some time at 184 as well.
184 - The Quakers have three veteran college wrestlers at 184 this season, including senior Thomas Shovlin who is expected to return in January. He is a former NCAA qualifier and two-time placewinner at the EIWA Championships. Harrison Cook had a busy freshman season for the Quakers, with 28 matches to his credit. He picked up four dual-meet wins and had five wins against EIWA opponents and had a tech fall at the EIWA Championships. Smith, a transfer from Michigan, has competed in 44 matches so far as a collegian, and has placed at multiple college tournaments. He was a three-time state champion in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in high school with 170 career wins.
197 - Micah Burak was Penn's finest freshman in 2009-10, with a 23-10 record and a second-place finish at the EIWA Championships. He advanced to his first NCAA Championships, winning one match. This year, he enters the season with a national ranking as high as No. 10 (A.W.N. Magazine) and a chance to make headway at the NCAA Championships. Steven Graziano, a freshman from Syosset, N.Y., had 105 career victories in high school and finished sixth at the Super 32 Tournament last year. He can compete at both 197 and heavyweight if needed.
285 - InterMat's No. 1-ranked 215 lb. high school wrestler from 2010, Kyle Cowan, is Penn's heavyweight for the 2010-11 season. Cowan is a three-time Oklahoma state champion, with an undefeated 125-0 record.