Penn wrestling head coach Rob Eiter announced a new addition to his coaching staff in July 2009, and the name is a familiar one to Penn wrestling fans -- two-time NCAA champion and three-time All-America Matt Valenti. He joined fellow Penn alum Josh Henson on the coaching staff and enters his first year back with the Quakers as a coach.
“It is very important for us to have Matt return to Penn,” Eiter said at the time of Valenti's hiring. “We are in the process of establishing an identity as a program, and our goals mirror what Matt accomplished while at Penn.”
Eiter went on to say that Valenti brings with him many valuable qualities when he enters the wrestling room.
“Matt is a Penn graduate and he can speak openly and knowledgably about what that means,” said the second-year head coach. “Beyond that, Matt is a flat-out good coach who interacts well with student-athletes as they strive toward success. Finally, Matt is continuing his own competitive career on the international level. It is a tremendous positive for our team to witness first-hand a competitor working at the highest level of the sport.”
The opportunity to return to Penn and work with a new generation of Quakers was a big draw for Valenti.
“I am very excited to be back at Penn and once again be part of the Penn wrestling family,” he said. “Coach Eiter has provided me with a tremendous opportunity to give back to my alma mater and I look forward to working with the team in the coming years. We are extremely focused on winning an Ivy League title and keeping Penn as one of the premier programs in the country.”
Since his graduation in 2007, Valenti has served as an assistant coach at Columbia University while continuing to train as a freestyle wrestler with an eye on the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.
While at Columbia, Valenti coached the Lions’ first EIWA champion since 1995.
Valenti, Penn’s all-time leader in wins with 137, also has a share of the Penn record for wins in a season (36, a mark he reached twice) and falls in a season (11).
In 2006, Valenti became Penn’s third national champion. The tournament’s sixth seed, he defeated Purdue’s Chris Fleeger, 3-2, in the final for Penn’s first NCAA crown since 2000. Valenti added to his legacy the next season, becoming Penn’s second two-time national champion with a 4-2 win over Oklahoma State’s Coleman Scott.
A three-time EIWA champion while competing at Penn, Valenti was twice named EIWA Wrestler of the Year. He was honored by the Ivy League as first-team All-Ivy three times – each year doing so unanimously. In 2007, he was a unanimous selection as Ivy League Wrestler of the Year.
This past April, Valenti won the bronze medal at 60 kg at the Pan-American Championships in Venezuela.
The Quakers return five wrestlers who have competed at the NCAA Championships in 2009-10 including three who have won EIWA championships.