Penn Defeats Virginia and North Dakota St.; #3 Oklahoma St. Awaits

Full Virginia Duals Bracket

HAMPTON – Penn capped off day one of the 2008 Virginia Duals with an exciting 16-14 win over Virginia in the second round. The victory advances the Quakers to the semifinals where the Red and Blue will wrestle the third-ranked team in the country, Oklahoma State, at 2 pm.

The day began with sixteen teams in the National College Division, including the fourth-seeded Quakers. In the opening round, Penn took on North Dakota State. After five matches, the score was close with Penn holding an 11-6 edge. From there, it was all Red and Blue as Penn won the final five matches to take the dual, 29-6.

#8-ranked Rollie Peterkin got things started for Penn at 125 pounds with a 7-1 win over NDSU’s Eric Hoffman. The Bison evened the match at 3-3 with a 7-1 win of their own by Eric Sanders over Bryan Ortenzio. At 141 pounds, Rick Rappo won perhaps the most exciting bout of the match. Trailing 6-5 and needing an escape and takedown to win, Rappo did just that. He managed to take NDSU’s Gabriel Mooney to the mat with seconds to spare, giving Penn an 8-6 win and a 6-3 lead in the match.

Cesar Grajales, the #15-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds, extended Penn’s lead with a 21-5 technical fall. In the next bout, at 157 pounds, Penn’s Rob Hitschler spotted Adam Aho a 7-4 lead heading into the final period. Faced with the task of scoring multiple takedowns to win the match, Hitschler was able to score three. Unfortunately, that was not enough and Aho took the bout, 13-11, and brought the score to 11-6, Quakers.

That was as close as the Bison were able to get as Penn rattled off five straight wins.

Zack Shanaman won in sudden victory, 7-5, over Mike Quamme after Quamme tied the match with an escape at the buzzer.

Jeff Zannetti did not need overtime to defeat Kenny Moenkedick, scoring a major decision with a 12-2 win. He used three third-period takedowns and over five minutes of riding time to get the win.

With the team score 18-6, #19-ranked Lior Zamir was up next at 184 pounds. He left the first period with a 5-0 lead and went on to win 9-1 for another Penn major decision.

At 197 pounds, Thomas Shovlin brought home an 8-2 win over Jacob Bryce to up Penn’s lead to 25-6. In the heavyweight bout, Trey McLean finished things off with a 13-1 major decision over Tyler Hemmesch.

In the second round, Penn met Virginia, which entered the match with an 8-1 record in dual matches and three nationally ranked wrestlers.

Peterkin again put Penn out to an early lead, taking the 125 pound match with a 4-0 decision over Ross Gilomer. However, as in the first match against NDSU, the opposition would tie things up in the 133 pound bout.

#15-ranked Eric Albright was the opponent for Ortenzio. In perhaps his toughest match to date, the freshman went toe-to-toe with the 2007 NCAA Championships qualifier, allowing Albright just one escape point and 1:47 of riding time before falling, 2-0, to tie the match for the ‘Hoos.

Virginia took the lead with a win at 141 pounds. With the match tied, 2-2, entering the final period, Rappo took the lead with a takedown. However, a late reversal by Kellon Ballum, coupled with his advantage in riding time, gave the ‘Hoos a 5-4 win and a 6-3 lead in the team match.

Grajales, a tri-captain of the Quakers, re-took the lead for Penn with an 11-3 major decision over Pat Riley. Following a scoreless first period, Grajales took down Riley four times en route to the win, his second of the day.

"It was a good day, not just for me but for the team," Grajales said, "Now we turn our attention to a new oppoenent."

Rob Hitschler extended Penn’s lead with an 8-2 win over Drew Pasquale. A takedown and two-point near-fall in the first period proved too much for Pasquale to come back from.

The 165 pound match was an eventful one, with Shanaman scoring a 6-1 win over Michael Chaires. The two were unable to score in the first period, but Shanaman took a 3-0 advantage after the second. A Chaires escape to start the third tightened the bout, but Shanaman took control with another takedown in the middle of the period to secure the 6-1 win for Penn. Following the match, Virginia was docked a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct leaving the score 13-5 in favor of the Quakers.

Penn’s eight-point lead quickly turned into a one-point deficit following three Virginia victories.

At 174 pounds, Scott Giffin was defeated by Chris Henrich, 4-2, following a third-period escape that broke a 2-2 tie.

The 184 pound match was between two ranked wrestlers in Penn’s #19 Zamir and Virginia’s #8 Rocco Caponi. The match was close entering the third period, with Caponi up 2-1. The two started the third in the neutral position until Caponi scored a takedown. Zamir escaped, but Caponi took him down again to land the decision victory. Virginia closed Penn’s lead to 13-11 with two bouts remaining.

Shovlin took on #19-ranked Brent Jones in the penultimate bout of the match. Trailing 3-1 at the start of the third period, Shovlin scored with an escape to reduce his deficit to one point. A Jones takedown upped the lead to 5-2. Shovlin managed another escape, but could not complete the comeback, falling 5-3. Virginia now held a 14-13 lead with only the heavyweights left to compete.

McLean quickly jumped out ahead of Jack Danikowicz with a takedown early in the first period. Danikowicz came dangerously close to reversing McLean into a pinning position, but McLean was able to roll through and turn it into two points of his own for a near-fall, taking a 4-1 lead into the second period. The middle frame featured no points for either man, setting the stage for the final period of the match.

Starting from the neutral position, McLean extended his lead with a takedown. After Danikowicz escaped, McLean brought him down one final time to close out the bout. One extra point was awarded for McLean’s nearly six minutes of riding time, making the score 9-2 and clinching the match for the Red and Blue, 16-14.

Following the day’s matches, head coach Zeke Jones said that he wasn’t concerned about trailing entering the final match.

“When Trey went out there, I could see in his eyes that he was ready to show everyone that he was up to the challenge,” he said, “He had a tough bout last week at Arizona State and he was ready to win one back for the team.”

McLean felt no added pressure when he took the mat.

“I had a feeling the match would be a close one and my match could decide it,” he said, “I wanted to just focus on winning my match. Sometimes wrestlers can think themselves out of a match. It is important to control only what you can control.”

What McLean could control was his opponent. He knew that his “suicide cradle” in the first period may have caused a few in the crowd to hold their breath, but it was a risk he was willing to take to get the win.

“I was comfortable there,” he followed, “It wasn’t textbook, but he ended up almost pinned. And pinning people always makes life easier when you can do it.”

McLean’s victory ensured the Quakers would advance to wrestle Oklahoma State, the third-ranked team in the country and the tournament’s top seed.

Jones knows what his team is up against. The Cowboys boast six nationally-ranked wrestlers, including #1-ranked 133 pounder Coleman Scott, and have cruised to the semis, defeating Drexel and Rider by a combined score of 74-21. The ‘Pokes have defeated Penn the three times the schools have met (1998, 2000 and 2002).

“Wrestling Oklahoma State gives us an opportunity to measure ourselves against the best in the country,” Jones said, “This is a great chance to see if we are ready to compete on Day 3 of the NCAA Championships. That is where the All-Americans and Champions are crowned. Our guys talk about reaching those levels. Tomorrow is where we will see where we are at.”

McLean feels that he and his teammates will be ready.

“We like where we are right now and feel we can compete with anyone. We like how we match up with Oklahoma State. We will be ready. There is no need to go out there if you don’t expect to win.”

Joining Penn and Oklahoma State in the semifinals are Illinois and Old Dominion. The winners of the two semis will meet in the final at 8:30 pm. The losers will move to the consolation bracket.

Updates will be posted throughout the day at with results and observations from the tournament floor.