In the first 100 years of intercollegiate wrestling at Penn, the Quakers produced 19 All-Americans, three NCAA individual titles, 52 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Champions, four EIWA team titles, 11 Ivy League titles in 49 years, including seven-straight, posted upsets over top-five teams such as No. 3 Iowa State in 2004 and rode a 21-match unbeaten streak in the late 1960s.
In other words, Penn built the foundation for one of the top wrestling programs in the nation. In the next century of wrestling in Philadelphia, Penn will push to become even better, and in 2004-05 has set a goal to send all 10 starters to the National Championships to compete for All-American honors.
Two All-Americans, four EIWA Champions and seven NCAA qualifiers comprise this talented group who are out to show that they not only have a storied history, but also a promising future in the world of NCAA wrestling.
Leading the way is two-time All-American Matt Feast, who placed fifth at last year’s NCAA Championships at 285 lbs. and won his weight class at the 100th EIWA Championship held at The Palestra. After three seasons, Feast stands seventh in Penn history for wins in his career (87). Feast will look to defend his title at the Keystone Classic, vie for his third-consecutive EIWA title and will challenge to earn All-America honors for three-straight years.
Penn has more than a few wrestlers who have seen success at the national level returning in 2004-05. Seniors Mason Lenhard, Doug McGraw, and Marcus Schontube are all returning NCAA qualifiers. Lenhard, the 2001 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and two-time first-team All-Ivy honoree, returns to the mat for the first time in two years. The 125 pounder won an EIWA title as a freshman and finished third during his sophomore campaign. In two years of competition, the Ohio native has compiled a 49-16 mark.
McGraw returns as the defending EIWA Champion at 141 pounds. The senior battled back from numerous injuries last season to finish atop his weight class at the Easterns and advance to the National Championships for a second-straight season.
Schontube was a constant workhorse all season. The Lowell, Ind. native placed second at the EIWA Championships and posted a 23-11 record. Schontube qualified for his first National Championships, earned second-team All-Ivy honors and was consistently ranked in the top-20 at 197 pounds during the season.
Penn also has a strong and talented group of veterans in seniors Kyle Bernholz, Jeff Eveleth, Rich Ferguson and Shawn Protz who are positioned to step up and produce results on the national level. Junior Dustin Wiles and sophomore Brock Wittmeyer are two up-and- coming wrestlers from Missouri who should also play a key role in the success of the Red and Blue in 2004-05.
Bernholz, who competed at 141 pounds as a freshman and sophomore, saw action at both 157 and 165 last season. He was given the team’s 11th Man Award for his performances in clutch matches which included defeating Drew Joseph of West Virginia to help the Quakers advance at the National Duals in Cleveland and recording two wins over Jarrod Turner of Penn State. Bernholz will compete at 149 pounds this season.
Jeff Eveleth sat out most of last season with an injury. Eveleth started at 133 pounds as a freshman and sophomore, took fourth at the Cowboy Open as a sophomore and earned honorable mention for All-Ivy as a rookie. Eveleth will return to the 133 pound weight class as a senior.
Ferguson earned second-team All-Ivy at 165 pounds and Penn’s Most Improved Wrestler Award last season.
Protz saw action at both 133 and 141 as a junior. He won the 133 title at the Central Jersey Open and took fourth at both the Keystone Classic and the Penn State Open.
Wiles finished fifth at the Penn State Open and went 2-0 in Ivy League action. He finished the season with an 11-5 mark and five falls at 174 pounds, while Wittmeyer took third at the Central Jersey Open and placed fifth at the Penn State Open at 157 pounds.
Junior Mike Silengo concluded the 2003-04 season with a 9-4 record at 125 lbs. He was a member of the 2003 Junior World team and was a the FILA Junior World Team Trials All-American.
The Quakers add eight freshmen to the line-up in 2004-05. The Class of 2008 boasts two Junior National All-Americans, two Senior National All-Americans, a New Jersey State runner-up and two Blair Academy postgraduates.
The foundation has been set, the building blocks are in place and the University of Pennsylvania is ready to launch its second century of intercollegiate wrestling by achieving new levels of success.
-Written by Heather Palmer, associate director of athletic communications