Rob Eiter recently completed his sixth season as head coach of the Penn wrestling program in 2013-14, after serving as an assistant for the Quakers from 2006-08. He brings an abundance of intercollegiate coaching experience to Penn's program, as well as a decade's worth of coaching in international competition.
Eiter has produced an NCAA All-American in four of his six seasons, wth Scott Giffin finishing in seventh place at the 2010 NCAA Championships to become Eiter's first All-American as a head coach. In 2011, Zack Kemmerer wrestled to eighth place at 141 pounds, becoming Penn's first-ever All-American at that weight. In 2012, Micah Burak finished seventh at 197 and in 2014 Lorenzo Thomas became Eiter's highest-placing All-American with a sixth-place finish at 184 pounds -- Penn's first-ever All-American at that weight.
Off the mat, Eiter has had three wrestlers named NWCA All-Academic -- Mark Rappo and Gabriel Burak, both in 2011, and Erich Smith in 2012. Rappo (2011) and Smith (2012) were also named Academic All-Ivy, joined by C.J. Cobb (2013) and Casey Kent (2014) Cobb, Kent, Rappo and Smith each have also earned Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area honors. As a team, Penn was honored by the NWCA as an All-Academic Squad and was one of 17 Penn programs honored in the NCAA's annual Academic Progress Report (APR).
The 2013-14 season saw the Quakers send four wrestlers to the NCAA Championships -- each a first-time qualifier. That occurance was the first time since 1991 that the Quakers sent only first-time qualifiers to NCAAs. Penn had two wrestlers reach the finals of the EIWA Championships at The Palestra -- Lorenzo Thomas and Brad Wukie.
In 2013, Micah Burak won the EIWA championship at 197 pounds, reaching the of the podium at EIWAs after three previous runner-up finishes.Burak was one of three finalists for the Quakers and nine place-winners as the Quakers sent six wrestlers to the NCAA Championships.
At the 2012 EIWA Championships, Eiter guided his first conference champion in Bryan Ortenzio at 133 pounds. Ortenzio was one of two finalists for the Quakers and nine overall placewinners. Five Quakers qualified for the NCAA Championships, four of which won at least one match at the national tournament. Lorenzo Thomas was unanimously named Ivy League Rookie of the Year by the Ancient Eight's coaches, the second recipient of that honor in the Rob Eiter Era at Penn -- the first being Kyle Cowan in 2011. Thomas was one of three first-team All-Ivy honorees and six total All-Ivy selections in 2011-12.
The 2011 NCAA Championships in Philadelphia was the best performance at the national tournament by the Red and Blue during Eiter's tenure, with four wrestlers advancing to the Round of 12 -- the most since 2000 when Penn finished ninth overall as a team.
At the EIWA Championships, Eiter has guided his teams to finishes of second (2010), third (2009), fourth (2012) and fifth (2011) with Rollie Peterkin (2009), Scott Giffin (2010), Mark Rappo (2011) and Micah Burak (2010-12) all advancing to the championship bout at the EIWA Championships in addition to Ortenzio's win in '12.
Kemmerer's 2010-11 season was the greatest single-season win mark in Penn Wrestling history as he won 39 matches en route to becoming the first unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection in Eiter's tenure. Other first-team All-Ivy wrestlers under Eiter's tutelage include Rick Rappo (200( and Cesar Grajales (2009). Heavyweight Kyle Cowan was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2011, just the fifth Penn wrestler to earn that honor.
In 2008-09, Eiter led the Penn program to a third-place finish at the EIWA Championships, and six Quaker grapplers advanced to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. One of them, Rollie Peterkin, was EIWA Championships runner-up at 125 pounds and wrestled in the Round of 12 at NCAAs but was unable to gain All-America status.
Originally brought to Penn in the fall of 2006 by his head coaching predecessor, Zeke Jones, Eiter worked both on and off the mats for the betterment of the wrestling program at Penn. He worked extensively with the lightweight wrestlers, coaching current assistant Matt Valenti to the second of his back-to-back national titles in 2007 and guiding Rollie Peterkin and Zack Shanaman to spots in the Round of 12 in 2008. In his total time at Penn, Eiter has worked with 34 NCAA qualifiers in addition to 42 EIWA placewinners and seven EIWA champions.
Eiter's work with the Red and Blue was not limited to the wrestling room as he served as primary scheduler for Penn, composing one of the nation's toughest schedules for the 2008-09 season as Penn wrestled six preseason nationally-ranked schools as well as in-season tournaments such as the Las Vegas Invitational and Virginia Duals. He also served as Penn's recruiting coordinator for three years, identifying and evaluating potential recruits and maintaining communication with recruits throughout the process.
Eiter also worked closely with Penn's academic services to monitor Penn's academic progress. In 2008, Penn was ranked third in APR among all wrestling programs and had two wrestlers named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic Team in Rob Hitschler and Lior Zamir.
Prior to his arrival at Penn, Eiter served as an assistant at Northwestern University from 2002-06 after working as a volunteer assistant from 1997-2002. While at Northwestern, he served as the lead recruiter, and in 2003 the Wildcats brought in the nation's seventh-best recruiting class. In 2005, he helped guide the Wildcats to a 14th-place finish at the NCAA Championships - their best in 15 years. That season saw Eiter coach one All-America and four wrestlers who reached the Round of 12. Freshman Jake Herbert finished third in the country and won Northwestern's first Midlands championship in 36 years.
He followed up the impressive 2005 season with an even better one in 2006. The Wildcats topped their '05 finish by one spot, placing 13th at the national meet. Northwestern qualified seven wrestlers for the NCAA Championships, then a school record. Three of his wrestlers earned All-America honors, and each also earned Academic All-America distinction.
From 1993-97, Eiter coached at Clarion (Pa.) University as an assistant. He served as recruiting and scheduling coordinator in addition to his role as conductor of the Golden Eagles Summer Wrestling Camp. He worked closely with Sheldon Thomas, who won an NCAA championship at 118 pounds, as well as Bryan Stout who was the first four-time All-America in Clarion's storied wrestling history.
Eiter's coaching success is not limited to the collegiate rank -- on four occasions, he has served as head coach of a United States team in international competition. He started his international coaching career at the 1999 Women's World Championships where he guided the United States to a first-place finish, the first and only time a U.S. women's team has won a world team title. Eiter followed that up by coaching the U.S. women's squad to a first-place finish at the 2001 Women's Pan-American Games. In 2007 and 2008 he served as head coach of the U.S. Junior Women's World Championships teams that earned fifth and third-place finishes, respectively. Individually, Eiter's wrestlers picked up seven medals at the Junior World Championships, including two gold medals.
Before moving into the coaching ranks, Eiter was a world-class wrestler competing out of the Sunkist Kids Club in Arizona and representing the United States in nine elite-level international competitions. In 1992 he was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic Team and in 1996 he represented his country at the Atlanta Olympic Games, finishing in eighth place. He also competed in the 1993 and 1995 World Championships. Eiter was a five-time U.S. Open national champion and won two silver medals at the World Cup.
A 1991 graduate of Arizona State, Eiter resides in New Jersey with his wife, Courtenay; their daughter, Stella; and their son, Troy.