PHILADELPHIA – The 009 EIWA Championships are a day away, and excitement is mounting as 14 of the best wrestling programs in the country prepare to convene upon Penn’s historic Palestra for the conference tournament.
Last year, Penn finished second at the conference championships – a half point behind Cornell. This year, the Quakers will look to make up that miniscule margin on their home mats.
The Quakers will send an experienced lineup into the brackets this weekend, with eight of the ten wrestlers slated to compete having conference championship experience. Of those eight, seven have placed. In addition, three Quakers have reached the top of the podium at the conference meet. Last year, Rollie Peterkin won the 125-pound title and Cesar Grajales captured the 149-pound crown. 157-pounder Matt Dragon is a two-time champion, winning at 149 pounds in 2006 and 157 pounds in 2007. He sat out last year season with injury and is looking to reclaim his place on top of the mountain in a tough 157-pound weight class this season.
Peterkin, ranked 10th in the country, enters the tournament with an 18-4 record. He has extensive tournament experience this year, winning the Keystone Classic and the Cliff Keen Invitational titles earlier this campaign.
Bryan Ortenzio has been a gamer at 133 pounds, winning 20 matches this season while making his opponents’ lives difficult for a full seven minutes in each bout.
Rick Rappo, a finalist last year at 141 pounds, is looking to earn one of the two automatic qualifiers at 141 this year. He is 14-7 with three wins via fall – including Penn’s fastest of the season in 30 seconds.
Grajales leads Penn in wins with 24. He has climbed into the top 10 in all-time wins by a Penn wrestler. He captured the Keystone Classic championship and took undefeated Bubba Jenkins of Penn State to sudden victory earlier this season.
Dragon, successfully returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss all of 2007-08, is 23-5 this season. His five wins via tech fall are most on the team.
At 165 pounds, senior Andrew Coles has stepped into the lineup this season and has picked up 10 wins. He had a memorable Senior Day, defeating his opponents from Brown and Harvard via fall.
Scott Giffin has prospered in his sophomore season, winning 16 bouts after missing the early portion of the season after being hit by a car. He was an NCAA qualifier last season after placing third at the EIWA Championships.
Colin Hitschler is competing in his first EIWA Championships, wrestling at 184 pounds. He has won 12 bouts this year.
Thomas Shovlin was an NCAA Qualifier last season and is looking to repeat that honor this year. He is 13-7 overall at two different weights, winning eight dual-meet bouts at 197.
Trey McLean has defeated his share of ranked wrestlers this season on his way to an 18-8 record.
Penn Athletics will provide extensive coverage of the 2009 EIWA Championships throughout the weekend. In addition to live video streaming of Penn matches, bonus footage of other matches will be broadcast. A live blog of the event will also be available at www.PennAthletics.com.