PHILADLEPHIA - For the first two months of the 2010-11 season, the Penn wrestling team has stayed local in the Northeast, travelling to New York and New Jersey while also competing in Pennsylvania. However, as the 2010 portion of the season concludes, the Quakers make what is set to be their longest trek of the campaign as the Red and Blue head to the challenging Southern Scuffle hosted by UNC-Greensboro (Dec. 29-30).
32 of the top teams in the nation - including seven of the Top 25 teams in the latest rankings - and four of the top wrestlers individually at their weight class are slated to take the mats this week, with the Red and Blue looking to take down those ranked higher and claim their own spaces in the national polls.
Last season, the Quakers finished 11th out of 31 teams at the Scuffle, with then-senior Cesar Grajales finishing second at 149 pounds for Penn's highest finish. Bryan Ortenzio had another high placing for the Quakers, taking fourth at 133. The highest-returning Penn grappler this weekend is Gabriel Burak at 165 pounds. Burak took seventh-place last season - up from a ninth seed - and is likely to be seeded again based on his No. 17 ranking entering the week. Another Penn place-winner from 2009 who is back in action this week is Zack Kemmerer at 141 pounds. He finished in eighth place last year and is primed to improve upon that result this week. He enters the tournament with a 16-3 record this season, including a whopping 14-1 mark in tournament matches. Already this season, Kemmerer has two tournament titles (Binghamton Open and Keystone Classic) and a runner-up finish (Nittany Lion Open).
Penn has 15 wrestlers on its list of probables for the Southern Scuffle, with No. 9 Rollie Peterkin (133) and No. 7 Micah Burak (197) other Penn nationally-ranked wrestlers on the entry list. No. 20 Scott Giffin is out this week to allow some nagging injuries time to heal before the dual portion of the season starts Jan. 9 against Bloomsburg.
Penn's Probable Lineup for the Southern Scuffle
125 - Mark Rappo, Jr. (12-4) and Karim Shafi, So. (0-2)
133 - No. 9 Rollie Peterkin (11-1) and Geoffrey Bostany, Fr. (4-4) and Zack Ellis, Jr. (2-5)
141 - Zack Kemmerer, Sr. (16-3)
149 - Andrew Lenzi, Fr. (7-5)
157 - Brad Wukie, Fr. (5-6)
165 - No. 17 Gabriel Burak, Sr. (7-2)
174 - Canaan Bethea, Fr. (11-5)
184 - Harrison Cook, So. (10-8)
197 - No. 7 Micah Burak, So. (10-1) and Steven Graziano, Fr. (3-2)
285 - Kyle Cowan, Fr. (9-6)
With 15 Penn wrestlers in action, there is plenty of opportunity for the Red and Blue to add to the total already accumulated in "Youngie's U-Pinn Program" in which alumni and friends of Penn Wrestling can donate to the progam based on falls scored by Penn grapplers. For more information on the U-Pinn Program, contact coach Eiter or Joe Neary in the Development Office.