PHILADELPHIA - Senior Matt Eveleth won the 125-lb. crown and sophomore Matt Dragon captured the 157-lb. title as Penn finished second overall at the 2006 Keystone Classic,held Sunday at The Palestra.
The Quakers --wrestling without 2006 NCAA participants Matt Valenti, Matt Herrington or Cesar Grajales-- earned 136 points to finish behind Columbia, which had 149 team points. Individually, the Quakers turned in two champions and four runners-up.
Appalachian State's Terreyl Williams Jr., who beat the #1, #5 and #6 seeds en route to the 133-lb. title, was named the tournament's Champion of Champions. All five 2005 champions with a chance to defend their titles did so -- Eveleth, Appalachian State's Scott Ervin (149 lbs.), Rider's Doug Umbehauer (174 lbs.) and TJ Morrison (197 lbs.), and American's Adam LoPiccolo (285 lbs.)
"I think the team really competed well," said Head Coach Zeke Jones. "We were without several of our starters for a variety of reasons, but we came away with a lot of valuable experience."
At 125 lbs., it was an all-Penn final between Eveleth and freshman Rollie Peterkin. In an entertaining and technical match, Eveleth took the early lead and never let up, despite multiple escape attempts from Peterkin. The freshman set the crowd buzzing with a late backflip out of a single-leg, but Eveleth managed to hold on for a 5-4 decision. For Eveleth, it was his second-straight Keystone Classic title after sharing the 133-lb. championship with Valenti last year. The senior looked solid in his season debut, earning two falls and a 10-3 decision en route to the final.
"They competed well," Jones said. "With freshman versus senior there is going to be a passing of the torch, and what better way to do it than to showcase it here under the lights at our own tournament."
Dragon matched upRider's Dave Miller in a matchup of the 157-lb. bracket's top two seeds, and the duo didn't disappoint. After a scoreless first period, Dragon was down for the second and reversed Dave Miller. Dragon nearly had the match won, but Miller reversed him late in the third period to tie it at 2-2. Dragon, though, had 2:54 of riding time and earned the point and the 3-2 decision.
Brock Wittmeyer was the runner-up at 165 lbs., falling to Mike Cannon, 5-4. Wittmeyer was down 4-2 in the final seconds before reversing Cannon to tie it, but the American University 165-pounder had the riding-time advantage to win the title. Wittmeyer had beaten teammates Andrew Coles and Jeff Zannetti to get to the final. Zannetti went on to take fifth place in the class, while Zack Shanaman took fourth. Earlier in the tournament, Coles scored a major upset with a pin of Brown's Shawn Kitchner, who is second in the EIWA rankings.
Colin Hitschler was runner-up to Columbia's Justin Barentat at 184 lbs. after the tournament's only overtime final. After the two traded escapes in regulation, Barent took down Hitschler on the very edge of the circle after a scramble to win, 3-1, in the first overtime period. The Quakers were well-represented at that weight, with Neil Cisper taking fourth and Thomas Shovlin sixth.
The 197-lb. bracket was again a #1-vs.-#2 affair, with top-seed TJ Morrison of Rider besting Penn's Jack Sullivan, 8-4. A reversal and an escape made the difference. Matt Dwyer finished sixth at 197, as well.
Penn will next be in team action Saturday when it competes at the Northeast Duals in Albany, N.Y. There, the Quakers will meet No. 1 Minnesota, No. 12 Central Michigan, Bloomsburg and Binghamton.
Individually, All-Americans Matt Valenti and Matt Herrington will compete in the prestigious NWCA All-Star Classic Monday evening in Dallas at 7 p.m. Live streaming video of the dual-format event can be viewed here.