Full Weekend Ahead For Wrestling

Cliff Keen Invitational information

Nittany Lion Open information

PHILADELPHIA - The first major event of the season has arrived for the Penn wrestling program, and third-year head coach Zeke Jones likes what he sees so far from his men.

“I think the guys are where we want them to be,” he said, looking ahead to this weekend’s Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev. “We have done some things differently than we did a year ago in preparing for this event, and we will see how that works out. However, the guys we are bringing to Vegas will be ready to go.”

The 22nd-ranked Quakers will bring a full lineup to the Keen, led by four nationally ranked wrestlers in 125-pounder Rollie Peterkin, 149-pounder Cesar Grajales, 165-pounder Zack Shanaman, and 184-pounder Lior Zamir. Peterkin and Zamir are coming off titles at the Keystone Classic two weekends ago, while Grajales was a titleist at the season-opening Brute/Binghamton Open.

Penn will have its hands full in Vegas; the field features 10 ranked teams along with the Quakers, led by Missouri, Wisconsin and Michigan which hold the eighth, ninth and 10th spots, respectively. On an individual level, the top-ranked wrestlers in five different weight classes are expected to compete with their teams.

“Looking at the weight classes, all of them are strong,” said Jones. “At this point, we are not necessarily set in our lineup, either, so some guys will have a chance to solidify themselves here.

“I think it is good to have the depth we have at some weight classes, because it creates competition,” he continued. “Guys recognize that it starts right here in our own wrestling room, and then once they survive that they are better prepared for outside competition. That may help us when we get to March.”

Jones has said since preseason that this is an event where he would like to see his men peaking. However, while there will be a focus on individual success, team accolades will also be on his mind.

“Ultimately, you look for both at a competition like this,” he said. “But as much as it is an individual event, there is also a team race, and you want to have success there, as well. We will have the conversation about striving for individual success, but also wrestling hard for the team. It is a good style to wrestle, and it is good to get them in that mindset as we go forward.”

On Sunday, the Quakers will send a host of wrestlers to State College to compete in the Nittany Lion Open, hosted by Penn State. Action is slated to begin at approximately 8:30 a.m. at PSU’s Rec Hall, and continue throughout the day.

The Nittany Lion Open will feature wrestlers from several ranked teams, including EIWA rival Cornell (t-12th) and of course host Penn State (6th). Penn is planning to send 13 grapplers to State College.

“Sunday will be a great test for the guys we are sending,” said Jones. “We are sending a lot of guys who can compete and want to break into the starting lineup, and this gives them an opportunity to make a statement to us.”

(NWCA national ranking in parentheses)
125 - Rollie Peterkin (#16)
133 - Rick Rappo
141 - Zack Kemmerer
149 - Cesar Grajales (#19)
157 - Tom Timothy
165 - Zack Shanaman (#15)
174 - Scott Giffin
184 - Lior Zamir (#15)
197 - Dan Zander
285 - Trey McLean

125 - Marty Borowsky
133 - Phil Boyer, Bryan Ortenzio
141 - Brian Spangler, Andrew Valenti
149 - Gabriel Burak, Vincent Cina, Jake Hunter
157 - Andrew Coles
165 - Zak Klinvex
174 - Jack Kitchen
184 - Colin Hitschler
285 - Tyler Blakely