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PHILADELPHIA - After two tournaments to start the 2011-12 season, Penn takes its No. 20 national ranking into a dual meet for the first time on Saturday at the Journeyman/Asics Northeast Duals in Troy, N.Y. at Hudson Valley Community College.
The Quakers will wrestle three duals on the day, starting with No. 14 American, followed by North Carolina and Arizona State. The event will be a wrestling fan's dream, with 15 teams competing in 24 duals. Of the 15 teams headed to the Northeast Duals, six are inside the Top 25 and 10 are at least receiving votes.
This will be Penn's second consecutive trip to the Northeast Duals after a 2-1 showing last November. None of Penn's duals on Saturday will be a rematch from the 2010 trip, but all three will be good barometers of where the Red and Blue stand early in the season.
Penn's first dual of the day is arguably its toughest. No. 14 American has four wrestlers ranked inside the Top 10 and EIWA bragging rights will be at stake. Despite the fact that the Quakers and Eagles compete each year for an EIWA championship, the two squads have not met in a dual since 1992. That dual went in favor of the Quakers, 30-9, giving Penn a perfect 5-0 record against American in dual competition.
Pollsters and pundits - both inside the EIWA and on a national level - will have two marquee matches to observe when Penn and American take to the mats. At 141 pounds, No. 4 Zack Kemmerer will meet No. 9 Matt Mariarcher. The two have met three times in their careers, with Mariarcher holding a 2-1 edge. The first bout came in 2008 at the Keystone Classic, a 6-3 win for Mariarcher. Last year, Kemmerer avenged that Keystone loss with a 3-01 win in the Keystone final. However, it was Mariarcher who won their most important meeting, a 3-2 decision in the EIWA semifinals. Mariarcher went on to win the EIWA crown at 141 and advanced to the Round of 12 at the NCAA Championships. Kemmerer, however, made it farther at the national tournament, winning his Round of 12 bout and earning an eighth-place finish and All-American honors.
Following the high-level tilt at 141, two top-ten wrestlers are slated to compete at 197. No. 6 Micah Burak defeated No. 8 Daniel Mitchell last year in the Keystone finals, winning by fall in 6:28. The two Colorado natives both sat out last week's Keystone Classic and could make their respective season debuts this weekend.
In addition to Mariarcher and Mitchell, American boats 2011 NCAA runner-up at heavyweight and current No. 2 Ryan Flores as well as 2011 All-American and current No. 4 at 149 pounds Ganbayar Sanjaa.
Kemmerer will have another tough matchup when Penn takes on North Carolina. Freshman Evan Henderson is a three-time PA state champion from Kiski Prep, with a pair of national prep titles to his credit. He is 9-0 this season, with four dual-match wins and six falls. At the Wrestle for a Cure duals on Nov. 12, Henderson went 4-0, with all of his wins by fall - including a pin of No. 15 Hunter Stieber of Ohio State in 1:31.
Another heavyweight with national recognition on Penn's schedule Saturday is Levi Cooper from Arizona State. Ranked No. 11, Cooper stormed to All-American honors in 2011 with an eighth place finish. A transfer from Cal-State Bakersfield, Cooper was 27-12 last year and entered the NCAAs unranked before his All-American finish. Arizona State, the alma mater of Penn head coach Rob Eiter, finished sixth as a team at the 2011 NCAA Championships on the strength of two national champions in Anthony Robles (125) and Bubba Jenkins (157). Those two have graduated, though, and the Sun Devils will likely start eight redshirt freshmen on Saturday.
No. 20 Penn Probable Lineup at Northeast Duals
125- Geoffrey Bostany (3-4)
133 - #15 Bryan Ortenzio (9-0)
141 - #4 Zack Kemmerer (5-0)/Mark Pinero (7-4)
149 - Steve Robertson (10-1)
157 - Troy Hernandez (3-4)
165 - Lorenzo Thomas (7-3)
174 - Ian Korb - (8-4)/Mike Steltenkamp (0-4)
184 - Erich Smith (8-4)
197 - #6 Micah Burak (0-0)
285 - Anthony DiLonardo (1-4)