Penn Wrestling Report 2/6: Quakers Gear Up for Ivy Weekend

PHILADELPHIAIt has been three months since an Ivy foe stood opposite the Quakers on the mat, but this weekend begins a stretch of four-straight matches against Ancient Eight opponents as Penn hosts Harvard and Brown in The Palestra on Saturday beginning at noon. Wins this weekend will set up a race to the Ivy finish next weekend when Penn heads to New York to wrestle Columbia and No. 3 Cornell.

This week, the PWR has received a makeover of sorts. “Seven Minutes” has been replaced by “Penn Wresting All-Access” and we begin the countdown to the 2009 EIWA Championships with “EIWA Championships Revisited” in place of “What I Learned About Wrestling”.

The more things change, the more they stay the same and we kick off with a look back last Saturday’s dual victory over No. 21 Hofstra.

A Look Back …

For the second week in a row, Penn took on a ranked opponent in The Palestra. This time, the opponent was No. 21 Hofstra.

Penn jumped out to a quick start in the match as No. 10 Cesar Grajales scored what proved to be very important bonus points with a pinfall win over Jeff Rotella at 149 pounds in the first bout of the day. Grajales was ahead late in the match, but was able to turn Rotella for the extra three points at the 6:50 mark with a double armbar.

The Pride rallied right back with four wins in a row at 157, 165, 174 and 184 for a 13-6 lead. Penn needed to get momentum back on its side if it wanted to have a chance in the match, and Thomas Shovlin did that at 197 with a 12-6 decision over Anthony Tortota. Shovlin was on fire from the beginning of the match, scoring two takedowns and three backpoints for a 7-1 lead after one period.

Trey McLean kept up his winning ways at heavyweight with a 10-5 decision to get Penn back to within one point at 13-12. McLean was also aggressive from the start, needing just 27 seconds for a takedown to get on the board.

At 125, No. 12 Rollie Peterkin gave Penn its second lead of the contest with a 4-2 win over Steve Bonanno. It was a close bout as Bonanno took an early 2-0 lead. In the second period, Peterkin chose top and proceeded to ride Bonanno, eventually turning him for three nearfall points. His riding time advantage at the end of the match proved to be the fourth point.

No. 9 Lou Ruggirello put Hofstra back in front with a 5-0 win over Penn’s Bryan Ortenzio at 133. The decision win gave Hofstra a 16-15 lead with only 141 pounds remaining.

Rick Rappo came through for Penn at 141, earning an 8-2 decision over Justin Accordino that gave Penn an 18-16 win. Rappo was the aggressor from the first whistle and was rewarded for his efforts with a takedown at the 2:11 mark. He tacked on three backpoints at the buzzer. He added an escape and a takedown in the second for the 8-0 lead after two periods. In the third, Accordino did score one takedown, but Rappo made sure that was it and held on for the win.

A Look Ahead …

Penn hosts Harvard and Brown at The Palestra on Saturday for a weekend of Ivy and EIWA action. Last season, the Quakers traveled to New England and swept the trip with a 30-7 win over Harvard and a 25-9 victory over Brown. In fact, Penn has had success over its two opponents this weekend dating back to the last century. The last time Brown defeated Penn was in 1993 when the Bears pinned a 31-3 loss on the Quakers. To find Harvard’s last win over the Red and Blue, you have to go back to 1990 when the Crimson defeated Penn 27-9.

Harvard enters the weekend with a 1-8 record. The Crimson’s lone win came over Stanford at the Lonestar Duals. Harvard has taken on a difficult schedule this season, with five of its losses coming at the hands of ranked teams. The Crimson have three wrestlers ranked in this week’s InterMat poll. Finding spots in the Top 20 are No. 4 Corey Jantzen (141), No. 4 J.P. O’Connor (157) and No. 10 Louis Caputo (184).

Two rematches from last season’s dual are in the cards for this weekend. Bryan Ortenzio defeated Harvard’s Tommy Picarsic, 3-1, in sudden victory last season and Trey McLean picked up a win at heavyweight, 6-2, over Andrew Knapp last February as well.

One of the marquee matches of the day will come at 157 pounds where O’Connor is slated to meet up with No. 18 Matt Dragon. O’Connor is a two-time All-America and has moved up to 157 this season with continued success. He is 18-2 on the season with his only two losses coming two Top 10 wrestlers. He has five wins over wrestlers in the Top 20. Dragon is returning to action after sitting out the last three weeks with a knee injury.

Another match to watch for is the one scheduled at 141 pounds between Rick Rappo and Harvard’s Jantzen. Jantzen won the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas this season and has been ranked at or near the top of the polls all season. Rappo has proved a flair for the dramatic this season with his pinfall win over Michigan’s No. 5 Kellen Russell this season and his clinching win over Accordino last week.

After wrestling Harvard, Penn will take on Brown. The Bears are 2-5 in dual meets this season, with wins over Air Force and Appalachian State. The only probably rematch this year from last will come at heavyweight where McLean will look to repeat his victory over Zach Zdrada. Last year, McLean won via 11-5 decision. Brown was at the Keystone Classic in November, but all matchups between Penn and Brown at the tournament did not feature possible ones for this weekend.

A Senior Sendoff …

This weekend is Senior Day for Penn as the Quakers participate in their final home duals of the season. Penn graduates nine seniors this season. As a group they have won 298 matches and five open tournament championships. Three members of the graduating class have advanced to the NCAA Championships and three have been named All-Ivy.

Penn’s Senior Class of 2009

Andrew Coles (19-26)

Andrew Gold ((28-15) 2007 Bearcat Open Champion

Brett McCurdy (30-16)

Trey McLean (37-13) 2008 NCAA Qualifier/2008 Second-team All-Ivy/2006 Shorty Hitchcock Champion

Rick Rappo (44-28) 2008 NCAA Qualifier/2008 First-team All-Ivy/2006 Wilkes Open Champion

Zack Shanaman (75-36) 2007, 2008 NCAA Qualifier/2008 First-team All-Ivy/2008 Keystone Champion

Jack Sullivan (29-32) 2006 Shorty Hitchcock Champion

Andrew Valenti (12-21)

Dan Zander (24-27)

Penn in the Rankings …

Penn has six wrestlers ranked in the Top 33 by the NCAA Coaches:

125 – Rollie Peterkin: 10th

149 – Cesar Grajales: 11th

157 – Matt Dragon: 15th

165 – Zack Shanaman: 24th

174 – Scott Giffin: 24th

Hwt. – Trey McLean: T-31st

USA Today/InterMat/NWCA Division I Team Ranking: Also Receiving Votes

Last Week: ARV

InterMat/NWCA/NWMA Division I Individual Rankings

Wt. Name This Week Last Week

125 Rollie Peterkin11 12

149 Cesar Grajales 10 10

157 Matt Dragon 18 19

W.I.N. Magazine Rankings

Team: 22

Last Week: 24

Individual Rankings

Wt. Name This Week Last Week

125 Rollie Peterkin 14 13

149 Cesar Grajales 10 10

157 Matt Dragon 9 9

165 Zack Shanaman 18 19

174 Scott Giffin 20 20

Hwt. Trey McLean 19 20

Amateur Wrestling News Individual Rankings

Wt. Name This Week Last Week

125 Rollie Peterkin 15 13

149 Cesar Grajales 14 13

157 Matt Dragon 16 16

Hwt. Trey McLean 17 17

EIWA Championships Revisited ... 2008

With the 2009 EIWA Championships a month away, the PWR will begin looking back at past Penn successes at the conference tournament. This week, we look back at the most recent EIWA Championships held at Franklin and Marshall University.

The Quakers left Lancaster with three individual championships and eight NCAA qualifiers, but it may be the one that got away that the Red and Blue remember most. At the end of the tournament, Penn trailed pre-tournament favorite Cornell by only a half a point – 128 – 127.5. The team score was the closest in even history since 1960 when former members Pitt and Penn State tied for the title.

Cesar Grajales was the standout performer for Penn, winning the title at 149 pounds with a 5-4, TB victory over the top seed in the bracket, J.P. O’Connor of Harvard. The two were tied after regulation at 1-1, with both men escaping from bottom after their respective choices. Neither man scored in sudden victory, so tiebreakers were needed. Grajales escaped in the first tiebreaker, but O’Connor scored a takedown late in the period for a 3-2 lead entering the second 30-second period. Grajales optioned O’Connor out for a point and now trailed 4-2. Going for broke, Grajales pressed the action and the aggression paid off as O’Connor was called for stalling, giving Grajales a point. Cesar then took O’Connor down with seconds to go in the period for the 5-4 win. For his effort, Grajales was awarded Coaches’ Trophy as Outstanding Wrestler – the second Quaker in a row to win that award, following Matt Eveleth in 2007.

Joining Grajales atop the championship podium were Rollie Peterkin (125) and Lior Zamir (184). Peterkin defeated Army’s Fernando Martinez, 8-5, in the final and Zamir earned a 4-2 decision over Army’s Scott Ferguson for his title.

Rick Rappo (141) and Zack Shanaman (165) advanced to the finals at their weightclasses before bowing out in the championship bout.

Scott Giffin (174), Thomas Shovlin (197) and Trey McLean (Hwt.) each placed at the event and earned spots at the national tournament.

Quoting Coach Eiter …

Coach Eiter looks ahead to a busy day on Saturday with two Ivy League rivals coming to The Palestra.

“We are looking forward to getting back into the Ivy League season. We are gearing up for the stretch run of the season and these teams present some challenges for us. There is always pride on the line in Ivy duals and our guys want to be at the top of the pecking order. We are excited for some of the good individual matchups scheduled for the two duals as we ready for the conference tournament.”