PHILADLEPHIA - After two full-squad tournaments to start the 2010-11 season, the Penn wrestling team heads to Troy, N.Y. this weekend for the Journeyman Northeast Duals at Hudson Community College. The Red and Blue jump right into the dual schedule with four duals on Saturday against No. 14 Pittsburgh, Maryland, Sacred Heart and Stanford.
Penn's Probable Lineup for Northeast Duals
125 - Mark Rappo (8-3) or Karim Shafi (0-2)
133 - No. 10 Rollie Peterkin (7-1)
141 - No.16 Zack Kemmerer (9-0) or Andrew Lenzi (5-2) or Jordan Michelson (0-0)
149 - Andrew Lenzi (5-2) or Jordan Michelson (0-0)
157 - Tom Timothy (4-2) or Brad Wukie (3-2)
165 - Gabriel Burak (3-1)
174 - No. 7 Scott Giffin (4-0)
184 - Harrison Cook (4-4)
197 - No. 13 Micah Burak (6-1) or Steven Graziano (0-0)
285 - Kyle Cowan (5-2)
Note: Rankings are 11/23 InterMat Rankings
With four duals on the schedule, the Quakers are bringing a large squad to Troy, hoping to get matches in for many wrestlers in the dual setting.
The Penn wrestler with arguably the biggest day ahead of him is Scott Giffin at 174 pounds. An All-American at 174 last season, Giffin will be making his season debut at 174 this weekend after wrestling up at 184 in the Keystone Classic (where he won the championship). He could possibly face three ranked wrestlers on Saturday, starting with No. 17 Ethan Headlee of Pittsburgh, then No. 12 Mike Letts from Maryland and then No. 4 Nick Amuchastegui of Stanford. There are no easy matches there as Headlee is always a tough match, Letts scored a 7-4 win over Giffin in a dual last year and Amuchastegui was an All-American at 165 in 2010. For Giffin, this weekend is a serious chance to announce his presence as a true national title contender.
Another wrestler with a chance to gain national exposure this weekend is Zack Kemmerer at 141 pounds. Kemmerer has been on a tear to start the season, with a 9-0 record and two tournament wins. This weekend, his first match should come against No. 3 Tyler Naumann of Pitt. An All-American at 141 last season, Naumann is 4-0 this year and returning from injury that has kept him out of Pitt's first four duals of the season. Kemmerer and Naumann have met twice in college, with Naumann scoring two wins. In 2009, Naumann scored a fall at 6:50 for the win and last season, Kemmerer had an early lead but gave up backpoints to Naumann as the Panther earned a 10-4 decision.
On the whole, Penn's first dual of the day with Pittsburgh should be the most exciting to watch. Penn has four wrestlers nationally-ranked while Pitt brings five. The two teams have met in duals the past two seasons, bringing a strong air of familiarity to the two non-conference rivals.
At 125, Mark Rappo will look to avenge a 4-3 loss to No. 20 Anthony Zanetta from last season in a very close match. At 165, Gabriel Burak and Adam Counterman are schedule to revisit their nine-minute match from last season that saw Burak win in second sudden victory with a takedown at 9:38. At 197, No. 13 Micah Burak will face another Top-10 wrestler in No. 8 Zac Thomusseit. At heavyweight, No. 8 Ryan Tomei poses the biggest challenge freshman Kyle Cowan has faced in his young collegiate career.
In addition to reconciling a loss to Pitt in a dual last season, the Quakers have a chance to do so against Maryland as well. The Terps defeated Penn, 32-6, last season and the Quakers are hoping to get one back on Saturday.
165-pounder Josh Asper is ranked no. 4 in the country and will meet Gabriel Burak in a rematch of the first round of the 2010 NCAA Championships which Asper won, 5-1, en route to Round of 12 status. At 141, Jon Kohler is back as the starter after a red-shirt year in 08-09 and a season at 149 last year. In 2007-08 as the starter at 141, he won 17 matches and was the ACC champion. Letts, a senior, had 99 wins to his credit entering the season and has been nationally-ranked throughout his career. Last year, he was 19-4 before a season-ending injury in January.
Penn's dual with Stanford is also expected to be hotly contested with two high-profile matches. The Giffin-Amuchastegui contest at 174 is one that will no doubt have serious national implications, but so will the match at 197 between No. 13 Micah Burak and No. 10 Zack Giesen. A three-time NCAA qualifier at Stanford, Giesen has bumped up to 197 this year and carried on his outstanding career. At 125, Stanford has No. 10 Ryan Mango, posing another challenge to Mark Rappo as Rappo makes his march to national recognition. A true sophomore, Mango is a returning NCAA qualifier and is 6-1 this season with his only loss a 5-4 decision to No. 2 Brandon Precin of Northwestern.
This will mark the second-straight season Penn and Sacred Heart have met at the Northeast Duals, with Penn taking a 46-9 win last year in a dual that featured only five contested matches with five forfeits.
In addition to the collegiate matches, an international freestyle dual between Team USA and Russia will take place at halftime of the duals. Penn assistant coach Matt Valenti, ranked No. 4 at 60kgs. in the United States, has been tabbed by USA Wrestling to compete or the Americans. He will wrestle Russian Rasul Mutasaliev, a third-place finisher at Russia's national championships.