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PHILADELPHIA - As the calendar reaches closer to November, the start of the 2012-13 wrestling season draws near for the Penn Quakers. With the Intrasquad matches set for Saturday and the first official competition of the season 12 days away at the Binghamton Open, Penn's squadron of grapplers is ramping up for a new campaign with many chances for success to be had and legacies to be defined.
This past week has seen the release of numerous national polls, and according to the prognosticators, the Quakers have two wrestlers strong preseason choices to make noise at the national level - Micah Burak and Mark Rappo.
Burak, a returning All-American at 197 pounds, enters the 2012-13 season as the presumptive fifth-ranked wrestler at 197. InterMat, Amateur Wrestling News, W.I.N. Magazine, D1CollegeWrestling and WrestlingReport.com all have Burak - who finished seventh at the weight at the 2012 NCAA Championships - ranked No. 5 heading into the season. Burak is 76-24 overall in his career, and a three-time finalist at the EIWA Championships. The No. 1 wrestler at 197 is Kent State's Dustin Kilgore, a wrestler Burak defeated, 6-4, during the 2010-11 season when Kilgore was also ranked No. 1 in the country.
Another senior for the Quakers, Mark Rappo, enters the season ranked firmly inside the Top-15 nationally. Ranked No. 13 by InterMat, No. 14 by Amateur Wrestling News, No. 12 by D1CollegeWrestling and No. 14 by WrestlingReport.com, Rappo is in good position to re-establish himself after a 2010-11 season where he was runner-up at EIWAs and knocked off the No. 9 seed at NCAAs in his first trip to the national tournament. Rappo is no stranger to the majority of wrestlers he will have to contend with this season on then national level - he is 4-3 against wrestlers inside the Top-20 to start the season, the three losses either in overtime or by injury default.
Both Burak and Rappo enter the season as the top-ranked wrestlers in the national rankings among EIWA grapplers. In AWN's preseason EIWA outlook, Burak and Rappo were both ranked No. 1. While the Quakers have not officially set their lineup, AWN also has projected Canaan Bethea as No. 4 at 184, Kyle Cowan as No. 5 at 285, Steve Robertson as No. 5 at 157, Jeff Canfora as No. 6 at 133, C.J. Cobb as No. 6 at 141 and Ian Korb as No. 7 at 174 as Quakers predicted to place at the conference tournament.
The Red and Blue as a team are one of three Ivy League teams ranked inside the Top-30 of the three major Tournament Power Index polls which predicts NCAA Tournament points based on preseason rankings. WrestlingReport.com has the Quakers predicted for a 27th-place finish at NCAAs, while W.I.N. Magazine has Penn tied for 28th and InterMat has the Quakers tied for 29th.