PHILADELPHIA – After Day One of the 2009 EIWA Championships, Penn sits where it ended last year’s conference tournament – in second place behind Cornell. While this time the deficit is larger than a half point (Cornell leads 63.5-48), Penn still has an opportunity to gain ground in Sunday’s final day of competition.
The Quakers have eight wrestlers still alive in the tournament – six are in the championship semifinals – and have a few matchups with the Big Red that will go a long way towards determining of Penn can close the gap.
One of the semis that will feature Penn vs. Cornell is at 197 pounds. Thomas Shovlin, seeded sixth in the tournament, will meet No. 2-seed Cam Simaz. Shovlin advanced to the semis with a pair of wins on Saturday. In the opening round he defeated Bucknell’s Nathan Jones, 8-0, for a major decision. In the quarterfinals, Shovlin avenged a loss in an earlier dual meet to Joe Kennedy of Lehigh. Shovlin needed only 1:09 to pin the third seed in the bracket. Shovlin took Kennedy down early, tilted for two back points and then locked the shoulders to the mat for the fall. Shovlin will look to continue his revenge tour against Simaz. In a dual this season, Simaz scored a late pin of Shovlin.
Another Quaker looking to exact retribution against a Cornell grappler will be Scott Giffin at 174 pounds. Giffin was defeated by Steve Anceravage, 8-3, in the dual and will be looking to even the score on Sunday. Giffin was 2-0 on Saturday, defeating Brown’s Bran Crudden, 5-4, before advancing past Bucknell’s Shane Riccio in the quarters, 9-8. The two extremely close bouts may have Giffin confident he can engage the No. 2 seed, Anceravage, in another close one on Sunday.
The third matchup in the semifinals between Penn and Cornell features No. 3-seed Matt Dragon of Penn and the No. 2 seed Jordan Leen. The two met in Ithaca earlier this season, with Leen pulling out a 4-1 win. Dragon won his only match on Saturday, outlasting Princeton’s Martin Everin, 10-8. The match was back and forth, with Everin mounting a late comeback, nearly knotting the match at the buzzer.
In other Quaker action, No. 2-seed at 125 pounds, Rollie Peterkin, scored two technical fall wins to advance to the semis. He opened the day with a 17-0 shutout of Rutgers’ Matt Fusco. In the quarterfinals, he defeated Brown’s Greg Einfrank, the No. 7-seed, 18-1. Peterkin, the defending champion at 125, will wrestle third-seeded Derek Reber of Bucknell on Sunday.
At 141, Rick Rappo is in the semifinals for the second year in a row. He defeated Navy’s Matt Pagan, 8-0, to advance to the final four. He will meet old nemesis, Seth Ciasulli of Lehigh in the semis. Ciasulli, the two seed, defeated Rappo 2-0, in a close and controversial match in the dual two weeks ago.
Trey McLean is the final Quaker in the championship semifinals, advancing past Brown’s Zach Zdrada, 12-3. McLean was able to take Zdrada down at will for the major decision. McLean will also face a Lehigh wrestler in the semifinals, taking on Zachary Rey. In the dual at Lehigh a few weeks ago, Rey pinned McLean in 2:50.
In addition to the six semifinalists, Penn has two wrestlers in the wrestlebacks.
Cesar Grajales, the 2008 EIWA champion at 149, was bounced from the quarterfinals by Kyle Borshoff of American. Grajales, the fourth seed, and Borshoff, seeded fifth, went to a tiebreaker before Borshoff escaped in the second 30-second period for the 2-1 win. The match was extremely defensive, as neither man was real close on their shots. In the end, Grajales’ last ditch efforts to win with a takedown were for not.
Earlier in the day, Grajales had defeated Daniel Kolodzik of Princeton, 10-1. After his loss, Grajales won his first consolation match, scoring a decision over Franklin & Marshall’s Al Gianforti, 11-5.
Bryan Ortenzio is also in the wrestlebacks, looking to fight his way back to third place. He was defeated by the No. 4-seed, David Marble of Bucknell, in the quarterfinals, 7-3. Ortenzio then rallied for a 4-0 decision over East Stroudsburg’s Matt Swallow to advance in the consolation rounds.
Senior Andrew Coles stepped in for an injured Zack Shanaman at 165 pounds and competed hard against No. 1-seed Mack Lewnes of Cornell in the opening round before falling, 12-5. Coles’ ability to stave off the major decision may come back into play when the final team scores are counted at the end of the tournament. In the consolation round, Coles was defeated by American’s Christopher Stout, 8-0.
Colin Hitschler went 1-2 on the day, defeating F&M’s James Schulz, 7-5, in the first round. He then was defeated by No. 2-seed Louis Caputo of Harvard, 9-2. Fighting an injured shoulder, Hitschler was defeated by Army’s John Drew, 10-6, to be eliminated from the tournament.
Here is where Penn stands in terms of earning automatic berths to the NCAA Championships based on finishes at the EIWA tournament:
125 – A win in the semifinals will automatically qualify Peterkin to the NCAA Championships, regardless of the championship bout result. A loss will require a third-place finish.
133 – Ortenzio needs to wrestle his way back to at least fourth place. Two wins will do that.
141 – For Rappo, it is “win and your are in” in regards to his semifinal bout. If he defeats Ciasulli, he will earn one of the two automatic qualifiers at 141.
149 – Grajales, despite being in the wrestlebacks, can earn one of this weight’s six automatic berths with a win over Harvard’s Walter Peppelman in his next match. That will assure at least a sixth-place finish for Grajales.
157 – Dragon can clinch a berth with a win over Leen. A loss will require one more win in the consolation semifinals to advance to the third-place match in a weight with four AQs.
174 – Scott Giffin can finish no worse than sixth place at this weight. With 174 having six automatic qualifier, Scott Giffin is the only Quaker to already have punched his ticket to St. Louis.
197 – Shovlin is another Penn wrestler one win away from the national tournament. 197 has two automatic berths. A win over Simaz, and Shovlin is heading back to the NCAA Championships.
285 – McLean controls his own destiny. The big boys have four automatic berths to seize and a win in his semifinal give McLean one of them. A loss, and Trey needs to win his consolation semifinal bout to earn his spot.
Day Two of the 2009 EIWA Championships begins at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday in The Palestra. Penn Athletics will be live streaming the event as well as providing live blogs throughout the day.