No. 23 Penn at the NCAA Championships
Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Okla.
March 16-18, 2006
ESPNU - Friday, March 17, Semifinals will air from 7-9:30
ESPN - Saturday, March 18, Finals will air from 7:30-9:30
Complete results will be available at www.ncaasports.com and www.pennathletics.com
Penn at the NCAA Championships
Bound for Oklahoma
Six grapplers will represent the University of Pennsylvania at the 2006 NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City.
Junior Matt Valenti and freshman Matt Dragon won Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) titles at 133 and 149 pounds, respectively. Valenti picked up his second title and will be making his third trip to the NCAA Championships.
Dragon is the first Penn freshman since Mason Lenhard in 2001 to win an EIWA title. The only other Quaker to win an EIWA title as a rookie was NCAA Champion and four-time EIWA winner Brett Matter.
Junior Matt Herrington was the runner-up at 174 pounds. He is making his third trip to the NCAA Championships.
Seniors Dustin Wiles and Mike Silengo and freshman Cesar Grajales earned automatic bids with their third-place finishes at 184, 125 and 141 pounds, respectively.
Wiles is making his second trip to Nationals, while Silengo and Grajales are NCAA-bound for the first time.
Last Time Out
Penn finished third at the 102nd EIWA Championships on March 5 at Lehigh’s Stabler Arena.
Lehigh won the meet with 129 points, Cornell was second with 114.5 and Penn finished with 113 points.
The Quakers were awarded the Good Sportsmanship Award by the officials. Its the second time Penn has won the award.
In the final at 133 pounds, Valenti defeated Harvard’s Robbie Preston, 4-2, in overtime. Valenti went 4-0 during the meet to improve to 31-2 overall this season.
Valenti’s win over Preston was his 100th career victory. He is the first Penn grappler to accomplish that feat as a junior. He stands sixth in all-time wins at Penn.
Dragon blew through the competition, winning two matches by bonus points, including a major decision over Lehigh’s Trevor Chinn in the final. After a first-round bye, Dragon pinned Robert LaTessa of Harvard in 3:24.
Herrington won by technical fall and major decision in his first two matches. He defeated Columbia’s Matt Palmer in the semis to earn a spot in the final with Lehigh's Travis Frick. For the second time this season it took overtime to determine the winner. Frick came out on top for the second time, winning 3-1.
Silengo avenged an earlier loss to Brown’s Jeff Schell in the quarterfinals, but fell to Lehigh’s Matt Fisk, 7-2, in the semis. In the wrestlebacks, Silengo defeated Matt Morkel of American and William Simpson of Army for third.
Grajales bounced back from a tough loss to Sal Tirico of Columbia in the quarterfinals. He won four straight matches in the wrestlebacks to meet Tirico in the third-place bout. Grajales earned a 4-3 decision to claim the automatic berth.
Wiles upset No. 4 seed Rudy Medini of Rutgers, pinning him in 4:02. In the semifinals, Wiles faced the No. 1 wrestler in the nation in Josh Glenn of American. The match was scoreless heading into the third period. After cutting Glenn loose to start the third, Wiles was taken down in the final seconds of the match and turned for three backpoints. Wiles came back to defeat Louis Caputo of Harvard and Lehigh’s David Helfrich.
Junior Gene Zannetti and senior Paul Velekei finished fifth at 157 and 197 pounds, respectively.
Penn in the NCAAs
Penn's highest finishes at the NCAA Championship:
1941 - Eighth
1942 - Eighth
2000 - Ninth
2002 - 11th
1999 - 11th
Most Points scored at NCAA championship:
1999 - 45.5 points
2000 - 44 points
2002 - 43 points
Most number of placewinners
2002 - 3 - Yoshi Nakamura (third), Rick Springman (fifth), Josh Henson (seventh)
2000 - 3 - Brett Matter (first), Rick Springman (fifth), Bandele Adeniyi-Bada (sixth)
1999 - 3 - Andrei Rodzianko (fourth), Brett Matter (fifth), Bandele Adeniyi-Bada (seventh)
Penn and the Ivy League
For the 13th-straight season the Quakers finished their Ivy League campaign with a winning record.
Penn went 4-1 in Ancient Eight action to finish behind Cornell.
The Quakers have a .910 winning percentage against Ivy League opponents in the last 11 years. Penn holds a 60-6-1 record against Ancient Eight foes from 1994-2005; the six losses and tie were to Cornell.
Penn has won 11 Ivy League titles and seven of the last 11. The Quakers won seven-straight crowns from 1993-94 to 2001-02.
The Quakers in a Nutshell
Penn comes in ranked 22nd in the final Intermat Coaches Poll. The Quakers went 11-5 overall and 4-1 in the Ivy League.
The Red and Blue have been ranked among the top-25 all season long and are currently 23rd in the USA Today/National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) poll. The Quakers have finished ranked in the top-25 nine of the last 10 seasons. In 2002, Penn was ranked a program-high eighth at the end of season.
Penn had a second-place finish at the Virginia Duals in January, falling to No. 15 Indiana, 18-15. The Quakers took 10th at the Las Vegas Cliff Keen Invitational earlier in the year as well.
Penn’s only losses of the season have come against ranked opponents. In the first dual of the season the Quakers fell to No. 13 Penn State. At the Virginia Duals, the Quakers nearly handed the 15th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers their first loss of the season, falling 18-15 in that match. No. 21 Hofstra was too much for the Red and Blue who fell, 25-15. Penn dropped a tough Ivy League match-up to No. 14 Cornell, 20-12, and the following week fell to No. 15 Lehigh, 21-16.
Four wrestlers are ranked in the top-20. Valenti is sixth at 133 pounds, while rookie Dragon is 12th at 149 pounds. Herrington (174) is 12th and Silengo (125) is 14th.
Speaking of records, Dragon is just four wins shy of breaking Valenti’s freshman wins record. Valenti won 33 matches as a freshman to break NCAA Champion Brett Matter’s mark.
Another record that could fall this season is the single season wins total. Valenti shares the record with Yoshi Nakamura and Josh Henson. The trio has 36 victories in one season.
Wiles leads the team in falls with seven, while Valenti and Dragon have five and Herrington has four.
Valenti lead the team in wins with 31. Dragon has 29 and Wiles has 27 this season.
The Quakers have three sets of brothers on their roster for the first time in program history. Penn has had 14 sets of siblings in its 102-year history. Eleven of those pairs have come since the early 1990’s. This year’s twosomes are Colin and Rob Hitschler, Matt and Andrew Valenti, and Gene and Jeff Zannetti.
Intermatwrestle.com ranked Penn’s incoming class as the No. 4 recruiting class in the country behind Iowa State, Virginia Tech and Cornell. It is the highest-ranked incoming class for the Quakers since the 2002 group was named the No. 1 recruiting class.
A common name - there are six grapplers on the Penn roster (of 36) who have the name Matt.
Leader of the Pack
Head Coach Zeke Jones is in his first season at the helm of the Red and Blue. The former standout at Arizona State comes to Philadelphia after serving as an assistant coach at West Virginia for seven years.
Jones was named the U.S. National Freestyle coach for the Pan American Championships. This is Jones’ second time coaching at the Pan American Championships; in 2003 he coached the United State to the team title as well four individual golds, a silver and two bronzes. The Championships will take place in Rio de Janiero, Brazil from May 31 to June 4, 2006.
How did we get here?
The Quakers concluded the 2005-06 dual meet season with a 21-16 loss to No. 15 Lehigh and a 52-0 win over Princeton.
Against the Mountain Hawks, Penn won four matches, including a pin by Valenti at 133, a major decision by Dragon at 149 and an overtime win for Wiles at 184.
Versus the Tigers, Penn won all eight matches wrestled by bonus points. Dragon, Wiles and Silengo pinned their opponents, Valenti and Grajales received forfeits, Velekei won by technical fall and Herrington, Andrew Coles and Jack Sullivan earned major decisions.
During the second Ivy weekend the Quakers split their matches, falling to No. 14 Cornell, 20-12, and defeating Columbia, 25-9.
The Red and Blue’s dual meet with Cornell was much closer than the score indicated. Penn won four matches, lost two by one point Silengo nearly upset No. 5 Troy Nickerson and Wiles had a very close match with No. 3 Joe Mazzurco and were right there in two others.
Against a very resilient Columbia team, Penn won eight bouts. A highlight of the match was Herrington’s upset win over No. 7 Matt Palmer at 174 pounds.
Penn opened the 2006 Ivy League campaign with convincing wins at Brown and Harvard last weekend. The Quakers won seven bouts against the Bears to earn a 26-10 victory in Providence. Valenti and Wiles won by major decision, and Herrington won by fall.
Against the Crimson, Penn earned a 30-18 victory and won six matches including another pin by Herrington at 174 pounds. Sophomore Lior Zamir won his match by technical fall. Silengo and Valenti both won by forfeits - putting off a much anticipated match-up between Valenti and No. 8 Robbie Preston. The two, who are ranked 1-2 (Valenti is ranked first) in the EIWA, could face each other at the EIWA Championships in March.
Prior to the Hofstra match, The Red and Blue had won 56 of their last 70 bouts. In their six wins in 2006, they have won 51 of 60 bouts. The Quakers have won eight or more matches in five of the last seven dual meets.
The Quakers had a tough match at No. 21 Hofstra. Zamir won the first match, 4-3, at 165 pounds. The Pride forfeited at 125 pounds and 133 pounds, and took the other seven bouts. The Quakers had several close matches, including three that were decided by three points or less .
The Quakers had two dominating wins against The Citadel and North Carolina. Penn blanked the Bulldogs, 43-0, and handed the Tar Heels a 33-8 loss.
Penn’s shutout over the Bulldogs was its first since a 54-0 win over Wagner in 2004. Wagner forfeited five matches in the meet. Prior to that Penn last shut out an opponent on Feb. 2, 2003 Columbia, 46-0.
Valenti pinned both his opponents. Silengo and Wiles also won by fall against The Citadel. In that dual meet, all three falls came in the first period.
The Bulldogs were only able to take down the Quakers four times.
Penn is coming off its best finish in program history at the Virginia Duals last weekend. The Red and Blue placed second, falling to No. 15 Indiana, 18-15, in the final. The Quakers defeated North Dakota State, 38-3, and Drexel, 37-2, on the first day of competition and defeated Ohio State, 23-15, in the semifinal round.
Penn recorded riding-time points in 16 matches over the first three dual meets at the Virginia Duals and only gave it up once - Penn, however, still won that match.
The Quakers had a five-match win streak heading into the Indiana dual. Last year the Quakers won five straight from Jan. 16 to Feb. 19, including a win over the Tar Heels.
The Quakers demolished Maryland, 34-6, on Jan. 7. Penn won eight matches including five matches with bonus points. Valenti and Wiles won their matches by falls, Velekei earned a technical fall and two Quakers won by major decision.
Over the holiday break, three grapplers competed at the 43rd Midland Championships. Silengo finished fourth at 125 pounds in his first action of the 2005-06 season. Silengo defeated No. 10 Tanner Gardner of Stanford to advance to the third-place bout where he fell, 3-2, to No. 14 Luke Smith of Central Michigan. Sophomore Rob Hitschler went 3-2 at 149 bounds, while Herrington posted a 2-2 mark in his first action on the mat since March 2004.
The Quakers defeated Drexel, 21-15, on Dec. 10. Penn won three weight classes with bonus points and gave up bonus points on only one match. Zannetti (157), freshman Colin Hitschler (165) and Velekei (197) won their matches by decision, while Matt Valenti (133), Grajales (141) and Wiles (184) earned major decisions.
The Red and Blue had a very successful showing at the 2005 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 3 and 4. It took the No. 1 wrestler in the nation to take down Matt Valenti. Valenti went 12-0 to start the 2005-06 campaign, falling only to top-ranked Shawn Bunch of Edinboro at 133 lbs. in the championship bout, 4-2.
Penn had three other wrestlers place at the Vegas tournament. Wiles took fifth at 184 pounds, defeating three top-10 wrestlers along the way. Zannetti placed sixth at 157 lbs. and defeated No. 7 James Strousse of Hosftra in overtime. Zamir picked up a seventh-place finish at 174 lbs.
As a team the Red and Blue finished 10th overall. Nine nationally ranked teams competed at the meet according to the USA Today/NWCA NCAA Division I Coaches' Poll from Nov. 28. In order of finish - No. 3 Michigan (1), No. 11 Cornell (2), No. 15 Missouri (3), No. 22 Edinboro (4), No. 18 Arizona State (5), No. 2 Illinois (6), No. 25 Penn (10) and No. 19 Hofstra (11).
Eveleth and Dragon competed at the Penn State Nittany Lion Open, taking second and third place, respectively. Eveleth fell to Joe Baker, 7-4, in the championship bout. Dragon was third at 149 lbs. Dragon went 5-1 on the day and had four major decisions. His only loss was to Brent Metcalf, the eventual winner, a 7-5 defeat. Dragon beat Patrick Simpson of Army in the third-place match, 8-6.
After finishing the season 1-10 against ranked opponents last season, Wiles is 3-3 against nationally-ranked grapplers at 184 lbs. In 2005, Wiles has defeated the No. 12, No. 14 and No. 16 wrestlers. His three losses were against No. 5, No. 8 and No. 11.
Four Quakers won individual titles at the Keystone Classic - Gold (125) and Grajales (141), while Matt Eveleth (133) and Matt Valenti (133) were named co-champions.
Penn won the Keystone Classic for the first time since 2002. Penn put up 151 points, 42 points more than runner-up Virginia. American was third with four individual winners, while Appalachian State and Boston University rounded out the top-five.
Penn opened the season with a second-place showing at the Oklahoma Brockport Gold on Nov. 12. The Quakers finished just five points behind No. 2 Oklahoma. Penn had 11 placewinners.