Penn Wrestling Report 1/16: Quakers Off Before Heading to No. 4 Nebraska

PHILADELPHIAPenn travelled to Hampton, Va. last weekend for the Virginia Duals. The Quakers ended the tournament with a 2-3 record, picking up wins over North Dakota State and Liberty. Penn’s three losses came at the hands of Edinboro, Kent State and Navy. The Quakers are in the midst of a two-week break before a busy weekend Jan. 23-25. The Red and Blue will head to Lincoln, Neb. To take on the No. 4-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers before returning home to The Palestra for a dual with No. 24 Pitt two days later.

This week in the PWR, we look back at the Virginia Duals, take a preliminary look at the next competition weekend and sit down with senior Rick Rappo.

A Look Back …

Last weekend, the Quakers headed south to Virginia for the 2009 Virginia Duals. Penn entered the tournament seeded fifth. Penn dispatched of North Dakota State University in the first round with a 33-3 win. The Quakers got off to a good start with bonus-point wins from Rollie Peterkin (Maj. Dec., 9-0) and Bryan Ortenzio (Tech Fall, 15-0) propelling Penn to a 9-0 lead after two bouts. Rick Rappo (141), Cesar Grajales (149) and Matt Dragon (157) each followed with wins before the Bison got on the board at 165. Dragon’s 11-9 win over Vince Salminen proved costly, however, as he injured his knee and was lost for the rest of the tournament. Scott Giffin (174), Colin Hitschler (184), Thomas Shovlin (197) and Tyler Blakely (Hwt.) rounded out the winners for Penn as the Quakers advanced to the quarterfinals. Shovlin won via fall at 1:52 for more bonus points.

Awaiting Penn in the second round was No. 15 Edinboro. The Quakers were only able to capture three matches against the Scots, with one of those being a forfeit. Cesar Grajales decisioned Torsten Gillespie, 4-2, and Giffin came through with a 6-2 decision over Paul Paddock.

In the consolation bracket on Saturday, Penn defeated Liberty, 35-9. Trey McLean scored a pin at heavyweight in 1:33 over Patrick Walker. Grajales and Shovlin added major decisions to help pace the Red and Blue.

Up next for Penn was No. 24 Kent State. The Golden Flashes had eliminated Penn from last year’s Virginia Duals and this year was similar in ending as Kent State won a close dual, 19-15. Peterkin defeated No. 20 Nic Bedelyon, 8-3, at 125 pounds to start the match. Kent State took the lead after wins from two ranked wrestlers at 133 and 141 before a Grajales win by injury default gave Penn back the lead, 9-6. Jake Hunter, filling in for Dragon, hung tough with Ross Tice at 157 before losing, 4-1, to tie the match at 9-9. Shanaman retook the lead for Penn with a 2-1 decision over Obie Simpson. Kent State roared back with three wins in a row at 174, 184 and 197 to take a 19-12 lead and clinch the match. Tyler Blakely won at heavyweight, 4-0, but the win did not change the final outcome.

Wrestling for seventh place against EIWA rival, Navy, Penn could not bounce back, falling to the Midshipmen, 21-13. Peterkin was upset at 125, losing via pinfall to Prescott Garner at 3:35. Ortenzio and Zack Kemmerer tied the match at 6-6 with a pair of decision wins. Grajales, ranked tenth in the country, lost in a tiebreaker to No. 5 Bryce Saddoris, and Navy never looked back. Giffin won via major decision over No. 16 Luke Rebertus. Rebertus appeared to have injured his knee after Giffin took the lead in the bout with a reversal and back points, but finished the bout.

In addition to the Virginia Duals, Penn had six wrestlers compete at the Shorty Hitchock Open at Millersville. Marty Borowsky (141), Brett McCurdy (149) and Gabriel Burak (157) each reached the semifnals before bowing out of the tournament. Zack Ellis and Mark Rappo each wrestled at 125 pounds and T.J. Polacek competed at 157 pounds for the Red and Blue as well.

A Look Ahead …

The Quakers are off this weekend before taking on two ranked teams next weekend. The Quakers head to Nebraska to wrestle the fourth-ranked Cornhuskers in Lincoln on Jan. 23. The ‘Huskers have six wrestlers ranked in the top 20, including No. 3 Jordan Burroughs (157), No. 5 Stephen Dwyer (165), No. 2 Brandon Browne (174), No. 11 Vince Jones (184), No. 2 Craig Brester (197) and No. 17 Tucker Lane (Hwt.). Burroughs was an All-American at 149 last season, finishing third at the national tournament. He defeated Penn’s Cesar Grajales, 4-1, in the first round.

After next Friday’s match with Nebraska, Penn returns to The Palestra to wrestle No. 24 Pitt. The Panthers have three ranked grapplers – No. 14 Jimmy Conroy (133), No. 10 Tyler Naumann (141) and No. 6 Zach Sheaffer (Hwt.).

Next week’s PWR will have a closer look at the two duals.

Penn in the Rankings …

USA Today/InterMat/NWCA Division I Team Ranking: No. 25

Last Week: No. 22

InterMat/NWCA/NWMA Division I Individual Rankings

Wt. Name This Week Last Week

125 Rollie Peterkin 12 7

149 Cesar Grajales 10 10

157 Matt Dragon 18 13

165 Zack Shanaman 17 15

W.I.N. Magazine Rankings

Team: NR

Last Week: No. 25

Individual Rankings

Wt. Name This Week Last Week

125 Rollie Peterkin11 9

149 Cesar Grajales 11 11

157 Matt Dragon 11 11

174 Scott Giffin 20 20

Amateur Wrestling News Individual Rankings

Wt. Name This Week Last Week

125 Rollie Peterkin 9 7

149 Cesar Grajales 12 11

157 Matt Dragon 15 12

Seven Minutes With … Rick Rappo

Senior Rick Rappo has won 42 matches in his career at Penn, including 21 last season en route to being named first-team All-Ivy. He placed second at 141 pounds at the EIWA Championships and competed at his first NCAA Championships. He comes from a wrestling family, and his younger brother, Mark, joined him at Penn this season and is a freshman 125-pounder. This season, he scored a huge win for the Quakers when he pinned Michigan’s No.4-ranked Kellen Russell.

Q. When did you start wrestling?

A. “My dad wrestled in high school and my uncle coached the Council Rock youth club, so wrestling has always been a family thing. When I was eight years old I started going to my uncle’s club. That is where I learned the sport and I have been competing ever since.”

Q. What was your favorite moment wrestling prior to coming to Penn?

A. “I would say that individually, it was winning the Pennsylvania state title my junior year. Then my senior season we won the team title. When I was a sophomore, we were 4-16, so winning the team title two seasons later was very special.”

Q. What has been your most memorable moment wrestling at Penn?

A. “It has to be last year when I made the finals at EIWAs. It was the first time that I felt like I was on the right path in my collegiate career. Another great memory is the trip to Vegas my sophomore year. We finished third as a team at the prestigious Cliff Keen tournament. It was my first time wrestling varsity so it was special.”

Q. What was it like with your brother, Mark, on the team with you this year?

A. “It is a lot of fun having a brother on the team. We were on the same team in high school for a season as well, but our age has kept us apart for the most part. I had to figure everything out at Penn for myself, but I have been able to help him out this year and we have really bonded.”

Q. What would you say is your favorite move?

A. “If I am losing and need to score, I don’t mind being on bottom. I feel like I can create a scramble and score points by getting out from that position with a switch or a granby.”

Q. What are you hoping to accomplish the rest of this season?

A. “I am hoping that this team comes together and accomplishes it goals of winning an Ivy or EIWA title. We have been close before, but fulfilling that goal would be extremely memorable in my senior season. Individually, I hope to make it back to NCAAs and have a tournament that ends with me on the podium.”

Q. What has been your favorite class so far at Penn?

A. “I am a concentrating in biology and biomedical science and am looking to go into pharmaceuticals when I graduate. So I would have to say anything that allows me to explore that world a little deeper.”

Bonus Question: You have four brothers that wrestle. In addition to Mark, there is Mike at North Carolina and Matt and Billy who wrestle in high school. If you and your four younger brothers had a tournament, who would win?

A. “Oh definitely me, the oldest. No disrespect to Billy, who is the youngest, but the big brother would beat the younger brother each time. He would go winless. We all know each other pretty well, but no one would take down big brother.”

What I Learned About Wrestling This Week …

When I sat down with Rick Rappo earlier this week, he described a move called “The Granby”. He mentioned it as an escape or reversal that he likes to use. A little research later, I came across one of the more visually exciting moves I have seen so far.

A granby comes from either a sitting or standing position and is executed by the wrestler who is on bottom at the time. The wrestler at a disadvantage rolls through the waistlock and comes out on the other side. An extremely successful granby will result in the wrestler hooking an arm and a leg of his opponent in a reversal and, most likely, a pinning situation. At the very least, the grappler will escape for one point.

Again, this is a really fun move to watch. I recommend checking out YouTube and finding some clips of them in action.

Quoting Coach Eiter …

Coach Eiter talks about the trip to Virginia and looks quickly ahead to next weekend …

“The key for this team over the off week will be to look back at the Virginia Duals and do two things. The first is to remember the positives and keep those at the front of our minds. At the same time, we need to work on the negatives and iron some things out. We are a little banged up, so the team needs to pull together and battle through these injuries. The room has been good all week and we have had some spirited workouts. We are deep in the schedule now and after this weekend there will be no breaks. It is imperative that we get ready to focus on the two tough opponents we have next weekend.”