PHILADELPHIA - All season long, Penn's wrestling team has strived to have their named called by the NCAA as entrants to the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Today, five grapplers were officially notified that their work paid off with bids to the national tournament at the Scottrade Center in Saint Louis, March 15-17.
Head Coach Rob Eiter will bring two seeded wrestlers to the national tournament, with Micah Burak earning the No. 11 seed at 197 pounds and Bryan Ortenzio drawing the No. 12 seed at 133 pounds.
Zack Kemmerer has the most NCAA Tournament experience among the Quakers, as he wrestled his way to All-American honors last year in Philadelphia at 141 pounds. He will be making his third trip to NCAAs next week, and has his eyes on moving up the podium. Kemmerer wrestled up from his seed of No. 12 last year at the national tournament and enters this tournament unseeded. His first round opponent is unseeded Evan Henderson of North Carolina. Kemmerer defeated the freshman, 9-3, earlier this season. The winner will meet the No. 6 seed Boris Novachkov of Cal Poly. Kemmerer and Novachkov met in the 2011 NWCA All-Star meet this season, a 4-0 win for Novachkov.
Another three-time NCAA qualifier for the Quakers is Micah Burak. The junior has been to the national tournament each of his first two seasons and advanced to the Round of 12 last season. Last season, Burak was seeded sixth at 197 pounds, this year he enters as the No. 11 seed and will wrestle true freshman Andrew Campolattano of Ohio State in the first round.
2012 EIWA champion Bryan Ortenzio returns for his second NCAA Championships appearance on the strength of Penn's first conference title since 2008. Ortenzio went 1-2 in his first trip to nationals, but enters this tournament as the No. 12 seed. His first round opponent is unseeded Zach Horan of Central Michigan.
Senior Erich Smith made a memorable run to his first career NCAA Championships berth at the EIWA Championships, winning four matches in a row after a first-round loss to take third place and an automatic bid. Unseeded entering the conference tournament, Smith will be unseeded next week in Saint Louis, where he will meet another unseeded wrestler, Kevin Radford of Arizona State. The two met earlier this season with Radford scoring a 5-2 decision.
The Quakers will send a true freshman to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2010 in 149-pounder Steve Robertson. The rookie is 24-8 this season and becomes the first true rookie to don a Penn singlet at the national tournament since Micah Burak did so two years ago. He will wrestle a wrestler with a last name familiar to Penn Wrestling fans - Eric Grajales of Michigan. Grajales is the No. 8 seed and the younger brother of former Penn wrestler Cesar Grajales.
The first round of the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships begins on Thursday, March 15.
Download: 2012 NCAA Brackets.pdf