PHILADELPHIA The first rankings of the season have been released by InterMat, and Penn is in the top 25 in the team rankings and features seven wrestlers ranked in the top 20 in the individual rankings.
The Quakers are tied for the 21st position in voting conducted by coaches representing each conference. The Red and Blue are tied with fellow EIWA school Navy with 36 points, 13 points behind 20th-place Oklahoma. Defending NCAA champion Iowa claimed the top spot with 275 points, including all 11 first-place votes.
A sign of the top-notch schedule the Quakers face in 2008-09 is the fact that four of Penn’s dual match opponents are ranked in the top 25. Cornell, the defending EIWA champions, is the highest ranked of Penn’s opponents, coming in at No. 3 with 253 points. Other teams Penn will face this season in the top 25 include Nebraska (sixth), Penn State (t-seventh) and Michigan (10th).
Rollie Peterkin is the highest ranked individual for the Quakers, sitting seventh at 125 pounds. The junior from Wellesley, Mass. advanced to the Round of 12 at the 2008 NCAA Championships and was EIWA champion in his weight class last season.
Fellow 2008 EIWA Champion Cesar Grajales is ranked 12th at 149 pounds by InterMat. He was named Outstanding Wrestler at the conference championships for his performance in winning the title. He was a consistent presence in the national polls in 2007-08, earning a ranking every week from Nov. 21 through the remainder of the season.
The third EIWA champion on Penn’s roster is 157-pounder Matt Dragon. Despite taking a season off to recover from injury, Dragon enters the preseason ranked 18th. Dragon has qualified for the NCAA Championships both years he has been active, advancing to the Round of 12 his freshman season in 2006. In addition, Dragon has twice been named first-team All-Ivy.
Zack Shanaman advanced to the Round of 12 at the 2008 NCAA Championships and finds himself ranked ninth at 165 pounds entering the 2008-09 season. He has earned a bid to NCAAs the past two seasons and was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection in 2008.
Sophomore Scott Giffin qualified for the NCAA Championships in his first season as a Quaker, winning 21 matches in his freshman campaign. He starts this season ranked 18th at 174 pounds.
Junior Thomas Shovlin is another 2008 NCAA qualifier who is ranked in the preseason polls. He competed at 197 pounds last season and is ranked 19th in that weight class to start the season, even though he is projected to potentially start the season at 184 pounds. In 2008, Shovlin recovered from an injury that forced him to miss the early portion of the season to win 14 bouts and finish third at the EIWA meet to earn his berth at the NCAA Championships.
The final Quaker featured in the USA Today/InterMat/NWCA/NWMA individual rankings is heavyweight Trey McLean. The senior from Berlin, Ore. is ranked 19th at 285 pounds. He qualified for his first NCAA Championships in 2008 and was second-team All-Ivy.
Penn’s seven wrestlers ranked in the preseason polls shows how Penn has improved its national status over the course of the past year. When the 2007-08 preseason polls came out, Penn had just two wrestlers ranked. Only Shanaman returns to the preseason rankings from last year as Penn’s other ranked grappler, Lior Zamir, graduated in 2008.
Some notes on the rankings ...62 schools feature at least one ranked wrestler. 40 schools have more than two wrestlers ranked. No. 2 Iowa State leads all schools with nine wrestlers ranked. The only weight class they are not ranked at is 184 pounds. No. 3 Cornell’s eight ranked wrestlers ties them for second with No. 1-ranked Iowa and No. 14-ranked Boise State. Penn is next up, tied for fifth with No. 4 Ohio State and No. 9 Illinois with seven ranked wrestlers. Nine of the 13 EIWA schools have at least one wrestler ranked. Besides Cornell and Penn, Lehigh (4 wrestlers), Navy (3), Harvard (3), Army (2), Bucknell (1), American (1) and Columbia (1) each appear in the rankings. In addition to EIWA foes, six of Penn’s non-conference opponents appear in the polls. Penn State leads non-conference teams with six wrestlers in the rankings. Other teams include Nebraska (5), Hofstra (4), Michigan (3), Pitt (2) and Delaware State (1).
Penn opens its 2008-09 campaign with Wrestle-Offs on Nov. 2 in The Palestra starting at noon. The regular season starts on November 22 with a pair of dual matches against Princeton (noon) and No. 10 Michigan (2 p.m.)