Six Wrestlers Ranked in First NCAA Coaches Panel

NCAA Coaches Panel Rankings

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The first NCAA Coaches Panel rankings of the 2012-13 season were released on Thursday, signifying the 33 wrestlers at each weight deemed to be in line to earn a qualifying spot for his conference this coming March. Penn has six wrestlers ranked inside the Top-33, tied for third most inside the EIWA and second among Ivy League schools.

Senior Micah Burak leads the way for Penn, ranked No. 9 at 197 pounds. The returning All-American is 5-2 overall this season after missing six weeks with injury, and is 2-2 against Top-33 opponents. Both of his losses have come to opponents ranked higher - No. 5 Nathan Scheidel of Binghamton and No. 8 Kyven Gadson of Iowa State - while Burak does own a win over No. 6 Jake Meredith of Arizona State. Looking ahead, Burak has three more Top-33 opponents on the schedule in No. 20 Brandon Palik (Drexel), No. 24 Jace Bennett (Cornell) and No. 26 Sterling Hecox (Brown).

C.J. Cobb has burst onto the scene in his sophomore season with a 14-5 record to earn a No. 11 ranking from the NCAA coaches. Navigating a busy schedule of Top-33 opponents, Cobb is 5-3 against wrestlers in the first Coaches Panel. Three of Cobb's remaining potential opponents are also inside the first Coaches Panel - No. 6 Mike Nevinger of Cornell, No. 13 Steven Keith of Harvard (who Cobb is 1-1 against this season) and No. 21 Frank Cimato of Drexel.

Mark Rappo sits No. 17 in the first ranking at 125 pounds with a 14-3 record. Rappo is 2-2 against wrestlers ranked in the Top-33, including wins over No. 19 Steve Bonnano of Hofstra and No. 33 Evan Silver of Stanford. This weekend, Rappo will take on his toughest challenge of the season in No. 6 Nahshon Garrett of Cornell with a bout against No. 30 Austin Miller of Bucknell slated for Sunday.

Canaan Bethea has his sights set on his first trip to the NCAA Championships and has himself in good position with an opening ranking of No. 26 at 184 pounds. The junior is 2-2 against Top-33 opponents, with wins over No. 23 Kevin Radford of Arizona State and No. 31 Ophir Bernstein of Brown. Bethea and Bernstein are slated to meet again in a dual later this season, while Bethea will wrestle No. 4 Steve Bosak of Cornell this weekend.

Heavyweight Kyle Cowan makes his first appearance in the Top-33 coming in at No. 30. With a 6-6 mark overall this season, Cowan's strength of schedule has caught the eye of the nation's coaches. Of his 12 bouts this season, six have come against Top-33 opponents. Cowan is 1-5 in those bouts, with a win over No. 22 Matt Gibson if Iowa State and losses to No. 3 Alan Gelogaev of Oklahoma State, No. 4 Chad Hanke of Oregon State, No. 17 Levi Cooper of Arizona State and No. 22 Blake Herrin of American (twice).

Freshman Casey Kent is Penn's lone rookie in the rankings, sliding in at No. 33 at 165 pounds. 16-9 this season, Kent has wrestled in seven matches against Top-33 opponents with a 1-6 mark in those bouts. His lone win came against No. 24 Johnny Greisheimer of Edinboro, and all six losses have come inside the top 21 of the weight class. Kent will have two tests this weekend when he wrestles No. 1 Kyle Dake of Cornell and No. 9 Corey Lear of Bucknell.

Unranked, but likely just on the outside looking in is Andrew Lenzi. Penn's 149-pounder is 17-8 overall this season, and 1-2 against the Top-33. He has two potential matches inside the Top-33 on his remaining schedule, including a tilt with No. 15 Chris Villalonga of Cornell this weekend. Geoffrey Bostany is unranked at 133, but has seen a good portion of wrestlers inside that group with a 1-4 record against Top-33 opponents this season. The same can be said for Troy Hernandez at 157 pounds. 7-7 this season, Hernandez has suffered four losses to Top-33 opponents and has three bouts remaining against Top-33 foes. Penn's starting spot at 174 is still to be decided between Ian Korb and Harrison Cook, but whoever claims that position will have earned it. Combined, the two have wrestled eight matches against Top-33 wrestlers at 174 including five of the Top-20.

The NCAA Coaches Panel is one of three markers used to determine a conference's automatic qualifying spots up for grabs at the conference tournament. The Coaches Panel is combined with RPI and Winning Percentage to determine those spots. There will be two more Coaches Panels released before the end of the regular season.