No. 25 Wrestling Heads to Virginia Duals as the No. 2 Seed

No. 25 Penn Wrestling at Virgina Duals
Hampton Coliseum• Hampton, Va.
Jan. 13-14, 2006
First match - North Dakota State (Friday at 11 a.m.)

Penn at Virginia Duals Notes

• Penn will compete at the 26th Annual Virginia Duals on Friday and Saturday at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Va. This is the Quakers’ fifth appearance at the duals with the last coming in 2001.

• Sixteen teams will compete in the tournament - which is the largest College and High School Tournament in the world - Bloomsberg, Cal-Davis, Chattanooga, The Citadel, Columbia, Drexel, Indiana, North Carolina, North Dakota State, Ohio State, Old Dominion, Penn, Rider, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

• Ninety-eight different colleges and universities have competed at the Virginia Duals. Last year’s champion, Nebraska, will not be back to defend its title, but runner-up Indiana will look to capture the crown it missed out on in 2005.

• Indiana is the only team other than Penn ranked in the USA Today/ESPN Top-25 Poll. Indiana (5-0) is ranked 15th and Penn (2-1) is 25th. Indiana is the top seed in the tournament.

• Penn is the second seed in the tournament and will face North Dakota State at 11 a.m. Friday morning. The Bison are 0-1 on the season after falling to North Carolina State, 22-14, on Dec. 16. NDSU has had more than a month off heading into this weekend.

• ABOUT NDSU – Junior team captain Matt Hermann leads a squad that returns two starters from last year’s dual lineup. Along with Hermann, sophomore Mike Meger returns for the Bison at 125 pounds. Sophomore Eric Sanders redshirted last season and will start for North Dakota State at 133 pounds. The remainder of the starting lineup consists of one sophomore, four redshirt freshmen and two wrestlers in their first year with the wrestling program.

• 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 at the Virginia Duals – In 2001, Penn went 1-2. After a convincing 26-9 win over Buffalo, the Red and Blue fell to Indiana (21-7) and Cal State Bakersfield (19-12). At the 1995 duals, Penn compiled a 3-2 mark and finished seventh for its best showing at the tournament. The Quakers also competed in 1994 and 1996.

• Four of the opponents in this weekend’s field are already on the Quakers schedule. Penn met Drexel last month and won, 21-15, in The Palestra. The Red and Blue will meet up with North Carolina and The Citadel next weekend in Chapel Hill. Ivy League foe Columbia will also participate in the tournament; the Quakers and the Lions meet up Feb. 12 at The Palestra.

• The Quakers demolished Maryland, 34-6, on Jan. 7. Penn won eight matches including five matches with bonus points. Matt Valenti and Dustin Wiles won their matches by falls, Paul Velekei earned a technical fall and two Quakers won by major decision.

• Valenti is 14-2 on the season which gives him 83 wins for his career. He needs just 17 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 83 career victories ties him with Andrei Rodzianko for ninth all-time at Penn. Adam Green, a 1993 graduate, is eighth on that list and has 87 wins. Brett Matter, W'00, is the program recordholder in wins with 128.

• Matt Dragon and Wiles lead the team in falls with three each. Valenti is second on the team with two falls, while six other grapplers have one pin each.

• Dragon and Wiles also lead the team in wins. Both wrestlers have 15 victories this season. Valenti has 14 and Cesar Grajales has 13.

• Dragon, Mike Silengo and Wiles are undefeated in dual matches this season. Wiles is 3-0 at 184 pounds, Dragon is 2-0 at 149 and Silengo is 1-0 at 125.

• Valenti has not been taken down in his last two matches and in fact has only been taken down once in his last three bouts.

• Wiles has been a takedown machine in his last three matches with 12. Eight of those came against Justin Terhune of Drexel in a 17-6 win.

• 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.

• 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 junior Matt 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. Sophomore Lior 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).

• Matt Eveleth and Matt 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.

• 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.

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