Penn wrestling head coach Rob Eiter announced a new addition to his coaching staff in July 2009, and the name was a familiar one to Penn wrestling fans -- two-time NCAA champion and three-time All-America Matt Valenti. He recently finished his fifth season as an assistant with the Quakers where he has coached four NCAA All-Americans, 11 EIWA finalists and two EIWA champions.
“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 Eiter. “Beyond that, Matt is a flat-out good coach who interacts well with student-athletes as they strive toward success.”
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 had 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.
Upon graduation, Valenti competed in freestyle for the United States, where he advanced to the 2012 U.S, Olympic Team Trials semifinals and three-times reached the U.S. World Team Trials semifinals. In 2010, Valenti was the Sunkist Kids International champion at 60kgs. and in 2009 he won a bronze medal at the Pan-American Championships.
In addition to his duties as an assistant wrestling coach, Valenti serves as Assistant to the Deputy Director of Athletics, a position he was hired to in 2012. In that role, Valenti serves as a liason to the University's Admissions Office and Financial Aid Office for 32 sports while also assisting in training and orientation of new coaches and serving as an intermediary between coaches and academic administration on campus.
Valenti is also pursuing a masters degree in Sport Management from Drexel University.