Penn Wrestling Report: Peterkin Wins in Vegas, Team on Winter Break

PHILADELPHIAWelcome to the second installment of the PWR. Last weekend was a busy one on the mats for the Quakers as two separate squads were in action. One headed to Las Vegas for the Cliff Keen Invitational while another stayed in the Keystone State for the Nittany Lion Open at Penn State.

The big story of the weekend was Rollie Peterkin capturing the championship at the Cliff Keen Invitational at 125 pounds. Peterkin went 5-0 over the two days of competition to earn Penn’s first-ever title at the prestigious event. In the final, he defeated Zachary Sanders of Minnesota, 10-6, for the crown.

A Look Back …

In addition to Peterkin, Penn had two other placewinners in Las Vegas. Cesar Grajales at 149 and Matt Dragon at 157 each placed sixth in tough fields. Grajales won three matches in the championship bracket – including two against EIWA rivals – before falling to top-seeded Darrion Caldwell of N.C. State, 4-1, in the semifinals. Dragon won his first round match before dropping a 5-3 decision to Kurt Kinser of Indiana. Dragon then wrestled all the way back to the consolation semifinals with four wins in a row. In the consolation semis, he lost to Adam Hall of Boise State and couldn’t get passed Chase Pami of Cal Poly for fifth place.

Bryan Ortenzio also had a strong showing at 133 pounds. He went 3-2 to up his season record to 12-5.

On Sunday, Penn sent another group of wrestlers to State College for the Nittany Lion Open. Penn placed another three at this difficult tournament, led by Brett McCurdy at 149 pounds. McCurdy finished fifth, winning three championship bracket bouts before falling in the quarterfinals to Navy’s Bryce Saddoris, 8-2.McCurdy then added three more wins the consolation bracket for a 6-1 day and a place on the podium.

Gabriel Burak (157) and Tyler Blakely (Hwt.) were the other placewinners for Penn at the Nittany Lion Open, bringing home sixth-place finishes.

A Look Ahead …

Penn is off from team competition until the Quakers welcome four schools to The Palestra for dual matches on Jan. 3 starting at noon. The Red and Blue will take on EIWA foes Franklin & Marshall and East Stroudsburg as well as Delaware State and Gloucester. With four duals in one day, expect to see multiple different lineups as the squad heads into the heart of the dual season.

Most recently, F&M lost a pair of duals in New Jersey on Dec. 6. The Diplomats dropped a 36-3 decision to Rutgers and lost 25-14 to Princeton.

East Stroudsburg is 0-2 in duals on the season and finished 7th out of 10 teams at the PSAC Championships last weekend. Expect Chris Birchler to wrestle Penn’s Trey McLean at Heavyweight in a rematch of the East Stroudsburg Open final where McLean won, 15-0.

In addition, Penn is expected to send a few wrestlers to the Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill. Dec. 29-30. Once the wrestlers entered in the tournament are announced, I will pass that information along to you.

Penn in the Rankings …

USA Today/InterMat/NWCA Division I Team Ranking: No. 22

Last Week: No. 23

InterMat/NWCA/NWMA Division I Individual Rankings

Wt. Name This Week Last Week

125 Rollie Peterkin 6 6

149 Cesar Grajales 12 14

157 Matt Dragon 14 17

165 Zack Shanaman 14 8

W.I.N. Magazine Rankings

Team: No. 23

Last Week: No. 23

Individual Rankings

Wt. Name This Week Last Week

125 Rollie Peterkin 6 8

149 Cesar Grajales 12 10

157 Matt Dragon 13 19

165 Zack Shanaman 16 9

Amateur Wrestling News Individual Rankings

Wt. Name This Week

125 Rollie Peterkin 6

149 Cesar Grajales 11

157 Matt Dragon 13

165 Zack Shanaman 19

174 Scott Giffin 15

Seven Minutes With … Andrew Coles

Senior Andrew Coles has stepped into the lineup this season and competed well for head coach Rob Eiter. Originally slated to wrestle at 165 pounds, he has bumped up to 174 to replace injured Scott Giffin. He has posted a 6-4 record overall and is 2-3 at 174. Before moving up to 174, he finished second at the East Stroudsburg Open at 165 with a 4-1 record. His first match at 174 was against No. 1 Steve Luke of Michigan. This past week, he competed at the Cliff Keen Invitational where he went 2-2 with one pinfall win over Jason Points of Cal-State Bakersfield in 2:33. I sat down for seven minutes with one of the senior leaders on the team for his thoughts on his wrestling career.

Q. When did you start wrestling?

A. “I started when I was five years old. I can’t really remember why I started. My dad started me wrestling and I took it from there. I know he didn’t wrestle so I am not sure why he wanted me to, but I am glad he did.”

Q. What is your most memorable wrestling experience from before Penn?

A. “When I was little, I always enjoyed taking the big bus trips to tournaments all over the country. It was better than wrestling the same kids from your town or state all the time. And when you are little and get to go on a bus and to a hotel with your family and your friends, there isn’t much better than that. I also enjoyed when I was at Blair and we took a trip to Texas for a club tournament. I made it to the finals and was wrestling a 25-year old. It was a good challenge.”

Q. What stands out about wrestling at Penn?

A.” As a senior, I have been here for a while and have seen people graduate and new people come in. It is great to watch the team form and bond. We really have grown as a group and that is what I will remember. Also, hopefully my most memorable moment is still to come when we win Ivies or EIWAs this season.”

Q. If you could wrestle any other weight besides where you are now, what would it be?

A. “When I started in high school I was 103 pound and every year I have moved up. I think I would rather be at 197 or heavyweight. It would be nice to come in and wrestle exactly where you are. Plus it would be great to be like Trey and eat whatever you want all the time.”

Q. Who has been your toughest opponent at Penn?

A. “Well Steve Luke was pretty tough … But when I was a freshman, I wrestled against Lehigh and Troy Letters who was a returning national champion. I wasn’t expected to win, but I wrestled tough kept it close. Matches like that when you have nothing to lose are fun. You can give it your all and don’t have to worry about anything.”

Q. If you could wrestle anyone from the past or who is a current wrestler to wrestle, who would it be?

A. “It is always nice to go out and wrestle against guys who have great records and give you a chance to prove yourself. I have wrestled NCAA champions, but it would be fun to wrestle Cael Sanderson who wrestled at Iowa State. He is considered the best the sport has ever seen and it would be interesting to see how I would fare against him.”

What I Learned About Wrestling This Week …

Late in his match with Jarrod Garnett in the semifinals of the Cliff Keen Invitational, Rollie Peterkin found himself elevated off the mat horizontally with two hands on Garnett’s left wrist and his legs locked around Garnett’s right arm/wrist after Garnett attempted to rise to his feet from bottom position. Peterkin then brought the far (left) wrist back through Garnett’s own legs, locking in a ball and chain. Peterkin then rocked back, pulling Garnett down onto his back into a nearfall situation. Three backpoints later, Peterkin had locked up the 12-5 decision and a spot in the final, which he would go on to win 10-6 over Minnesota’s Zach Sanders.

I was quite impressed by Peterkin’s control from what appeared to this non-informed observer to be a precarious position so I went to coach Eiter and asked him what that move was. Eiter informed me that it was called a “Churella”. Basically, it is an addition to the ball and chain where the wrestler then pulls back to score the nearfall points. It gets its name from the Churella family of wrestlers who have competed for Michigan over the years. Ironically, the Cliff Keen tournament that Peterkin executed the move at is run by Mark Churella. I am sure he was impressed to see his namesake move executed in such an important part of the match.

Quoting Coach Eiter …

Coach Eiter looks ahead to the winter break as the wrestlers take exams and prepare for the heart of the schedule.

“Our goal is to keep our conditioning up and recover from some bumps and bruises. We don’t want to take a step back at all. This is a good chance to maintain and get some individual work in. The focus is to come back ready to go in January as we head towards the rest of the season.”

The PWR will not run next week as the team is off for winter break. It will return the week of the 29th with a look at the Midlands Championships and the Penn Duals.