No. 22 Penn vs. No. 21 Hofstra
Jan. 25, 2006 7 p.m.
Hempsted, N.Y. Hofstra Arena
Penn at Hofstra Notes
The Penn wrestling team is ranked 22th in this week’s USA Today/NWCA/Intermat Poll and 24th in the Amateur Wrestling News and W.I.N. Polls. Five Quakers are ranked nationally in their weight class, including junior Matt Herrington, who is ranked in two polls for the first time all season.
The Quakers are coming off two dominating wins against The Citadel and North Carolina. Penn blanked the Bulldogs, 43-0, and handed the Tar Heels a 33-8 loss.
Penn’s shutout over the Bulldogs was its first since a 54-0 win over Wagner in 2004. Wagner forfeited five matches in the meet. Prior to that Penn last shut out an opponent on Feb. 2, 2003 Columbia, 46-0.
Junior Matt Valenti pinned both his opponents. Seniors Mike Silengo and Dustin Wiles also won by fall against The Citadel. In that dual meet, all three falls came in the first period.
The Bulldogs were only able to take down the Quakers four times.
The Red and Blue have won 56 of their last 70 bouts. In their six wins in 2006, they have won 51 of 60 bouts. Penn has won eight or more matches in five of the last seven dual meets.
Penn is 2-3 all-time against Hofstra. The Quakers and Pride have met at least once in each of the last three years. Hofstra has won the last three-straight, including a 23-18 win at The Palestra last year. Penn won four matches during the meet including a fall at 133 pounds over Charles Griffin.
Several wrestlers from Penn and Hofstra faced each other at the Las Vegas Invitational in December. Penn went 2-1 in those matches. Wiles defeated Joe Rovelli, who is currently ranked 19th in the latest W.I.N. poll, 7-4. Gene Zannetti edged James Strousse in overtime, 5-4, at 157 pounds. Lior Zamir lost a tough match to Mike Patrovich, 14-8.
Patrovich is ranked fifth in the nation at 174 pounds. Other ranked wrestlers include Charles Griffin (13th at 141 pounds), Jon Masa (4th at 149), Strousse (17th at 157 pounds), Chris Vondruska (19th at 165 pounds) and Rovelli (19th at 184 pounds).
Wiles is the only grappler in Penn’s current line-up who consistently competed in the starting line-up last season.
The Quakers have nine wrestlers ranked in the latest Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) poll. Valenti and freshman Matt Dragon are ranked first at 133 and 149 pounds, respectively. senior Mike Silengo (125), freshman Cesar Grajales (141) and senior Paul Velekei (197) are second at their respective weight classes. Gene Zannetti (157), Zamir (165), Herrington (174) and Dustin Wiles (184) are all fifth in their respective weight classes.
The last time the Quakers defeated a ranked opponent was No. 14 West Virginia on Jan. 17, 2004 at the Cliff Keen Duals in Cleveland, Ohio.
Penn also defeated No. 3 Iowa State, 26-15 at that meet. It is the highest ranked opponent the Red and Blue have defeated in program history.
Penn has had two chances against ranked opponents so far - falling to No. 13 Penn State and No. 15 Indiana. The Quakers will have another chance on Wednesday against No. 21 Hofstra. Nationally-ranked Cornell and Lehigh are on the schedule for next month.
Valenti is 20-2 on the season which gives him 89 wins for his career. He needs just 11 more to become the first Penn wrestler to reach 100 as a junior. Five other Quakers have garnered 100 wins in their careers at Penn.
Valenti’s 89 career victories is eighth all-time at Penn. Mark Piotrowsky, a 1999 graduate, is seventh on the list with 94 wins. Brett Matter, W'00, is the program recordholder in wins with 128.
Wiles leads the team in falls with five, while Valenti has four and Dragon has three pins. Herrington is fourth with two falls. Seven other grapplers have one pin each.
Dragon, Valenti and Wiles lead the team in wins. All three wrestlers have 20 victories this season. Grajales and Zamir both have 16.
Herrington is undefeated in dual matches this season. He is 7-0 at 174 pounds. The junior returned to the mat at Midlands for the first time since the 2004 NCAA Championships.
Herrington has not been taken down in his last three matches. In fact, the junior has only been taken down once in his last seven matches. The lone takedown came in 15-6 win over Nate Auguston of Ohio State.
The Quaker have three sets on brothers on their roster for the first time in program history. Penn has had 14 sets of siblings in its 102-year history. Eleven of those pairs have come since the early 1990’s. This year’s twosomes are Colin and Rob Hitschler, Matt and Andrew Valenti, and Gene and Jeff Zannetti.
Head Coach Zeke Jones was named the U.S. National Freestyle coach for the Pan American Championships. This is Jones’ second time coaching at the Pan American Championships; in 2003 he coached the United State to the team title, four golds, a silver and two bronzes. The Championships will take place in Rio de Janiero, Brazil from May 31 to June 4, 2006.
Penn is coming off its best finish in program history at the Virginia Duals last weekend. The Red and Blue placed second, falling to No. 15 Indiana, 18-15, in the final. The Quakers defeated North Dakota State, 38-3, and Drexel, 37-2, on the first day of competition and defeated Ohio State, 23-15, in the semifinal round.
Penn recorded riding-time points in 16 matches over the first three dual meets at the Virginia Duals and only gave it up once - Penn, however, still won that match.
The Quakers had a five-match win streak heading into the Indiana dual. Last year the Quakers won five straight from Jan. 16 to Feb. 19, including a win over the Tar Heels.
The Quakers demolished Maryland, 34-6, on Jan. 7. Penn won eight matches including five matches with bonus points. Valenti and Wiles won their matches by falls, Velekei earned a technical fall and two Quakers won by major decision.
Over the holiday break, three grapplers competed at the 43rd Midland Championships. Silengo finished fourth at 125 pounds in his first action of the 2005-06 season. Silengo defeated No. 10 Tanner Gardner of Stanford to advance to the third-place bout where he fell, 3-2, to No. 14 Luke Smith of Central Michigan. Sophomore Rob Hitschler went 3-2 at 149 bounds, while Herrington posted a 2-2 mark in his first action on the mat since March 2004.
The Quakers defeated Drexel, 21-15, on Dec. 10. Penn won three weight classes with bonus points and gave up bonus points on only one match. junior Gene Zannetti (157), freshman Colin Hitschler (165) and Velekei (197) won their matches by decision, while Matt Valenti (133), Grajales (141) and Wiles (184) earned major decisions.
The Red and Blue had a very successful showing at the 2005 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 3 and 4. It took the No. 1 wrestler in the nation to take down Matt Valenti. Valenti went 12-0 to start the 2005-06 campaign, falling only to top-ranked Shawn Bunch of Edinboro at 133 lbs. in the championship bout, 4-2.
Penn had three other wrestlers place at the Vegas tournament. Wiles took fifth at 184 pounds, defeating three top-10 wrestlers along the way. Zannetti placed sixth at 157 lbs. and defeated No. 7 James Strousse of Hosftra in overtime. Zamir picked up a seventh-place finish at 174 lbs.
As a team the Red and Blue finished 10th overall. Nine nationally ranked teams competed at the meet according to the USA Today/NWCA NCAA Division I Coaches' Poll from Nov. 28. In order of finish - No. 3 Michigan (1), No. 11 Cornell (2), No. 15 Missouri (3), No. 22 Edinboro (4), No. 18 Arizona State (5), No. 2 Illinois (6), No. 25 Penn (10) and No. 19 Hofstra (11).
Eveleth and Dragon competed at the Penn State Nittany Lion Open, taking second and third place, respectively. Eveleth fell to Joe Baker, 7-4, in the championship bout. Dragon was third at 149 lbs. Dragon went 5-1 on the day and had four major decisions. His only loss was to Brent Metcalf, the eventual winner, a 7-5 defeat. Dragon beat Patrick Simpson of Army in the third-place match, 8-6.
After finishing the season 1-10 against ranked opponents last season, Wiles is 3-3 against nationally-ranked grapplers at 184 lbs. In 2005, Wiles has defeated the No. 12, No. 14 and No. 16 wrestlers. His three losses were against No. 5, No. 8 and No. 11.
Four Quakers won individual titles at the Keystone Classic - Andrew Gold (125), Grajales (141) and Matt Eveleth (133) and Matt Valenti (133).
Penn won the Keystone Classic for the first time since 2002. Penn put up 151 points, 42 points more than runner-up Virginia. American was third with four individual winners, while Appalachian State and Boston University rounded out the top-five.
Penn opened the season with a second-place showing at the Oklahoma Brockport Gold on Nov. 12. The Quakers finished just five points behind No. 2 Oklahoma. Penn had 11 placewinners.
Penn returns four NCAA Qualifiers to the line-up this season in Matt Valenti, Herrington, Velekei and Wiles.
Head Coach Zeke Jones is in his first season at the helm of the Red and Blue. The former standout at Arizona State comes to Philadelphia after serving as an assistant coach at West Virginia for seven years.
Last year, Wiles led the Red and Blue in falls and takedowns. The then-174 pounder had eight falls and 73 takedowns.
Intermatwrestle.com ranked Penn's incoming class as the No. 4 recruiting class in the country behind Iowa State, Virginia Tech and Cornell. It is the highest-ranked incoming class for the Quakers since the 2002 group was named the No. 1 recruiting class.
A common name - there are six grapplers on the Penn roster (of 36) who have the name Matt.