Valenti Breaks Wins Record as Wrestling Beats Lehigh

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Senior Matt Valenti became all-time program leader in wins and the Quakers got bonus points in three of its six wins as Penn upended No. 24 Lehigh, 21-15, Sunday afternoon at Stabler Arena.

Penn trailed by a point after eight bouts before Rick Rappo earned a critical major decision at 149 pounds to put Penn up by three points heading into the final match. Matt Dragon sealed the win with a 6-4 decision at 157.

Valenti’s 129th career win came on a 6-0 decision over Seth Ciasulli. He surpasses Brett Matter, who earned 128 wins in his outstanding career in the Red and Blue.

The meet started with a major decision for No. 10 Zack Shanaman as he beat Manuel Schubert, 16-7. It looked as if Schubert would avoid the major with an escape 30 seconds from the end of the bout, but Shanaman scored a late takedown and added riding time to get the bonus team point.

No. 11 Matt Herrington also earned a major decision, and like Shanaman, he waited until the final seconds to get the eight-point margin. Leading 6-1 in the third period and controlling riding time, Herrington circled around and got a final takedown with 15 seconds left to make it a 9-1 win and put Penn up 8-0.

At 184, No. 14 Lior Zamir lost a hard-fought overtime battle to No. 12 David Craig. After a long feeling-out period, Craig got a takedown out of a scramble with 30 seconds left in the first, and Zamir escaped 21 seconds later. Craig chose down to start the second and escaped to lead 3-1, but Zamir earned a takedown at the very end of the period after nearly pinning Craig. Zamir escaped to start the third and lead 4-3, but was hit with a penalty with 50 seconds remaining to tie the score. Craig got the decisive takedown in sudden victory.

Penn gave up the lead after Jack Sullivan lost by fall to Matt Cassidy at 197 pounds. Sullivan was trailing 4-2 in the second before Cassidy caught him out of neutral and pinned Sullivan at 4:29.

At heavyweight, Ben Reiter hung with 18th-ranked Paul Weibel but couldn’t come out on top, losing 4-2. Weibel scored an escape and a takedown to lead and controlled riding time, while Reiter got a pair of escapes to keep things close.

After a scoreless first period at 125, Matt Fisk turned No. 20 Matt Eveleth to start the second, scoring a near-fall two before Eveleth escaped. The Penn senior returned the favor to start the third ,rolling Fisk over and scoring his own pair of back points, then did it again with a half-minute remaining to secure victory despite a late Fisk escape.

“That started to change the momentum for us,” said Head Coach Zeke Jones of Eveleth’s win.

After two scoreless periods, Valenti, the nation’s top-ranked grappler at 133 pounds, reversed Ciasulli to start the third and locked up riding time, and a near-fall three almost resulted in a pin at the buzzer as he won 6-0.

After Brett McCurdy lost a tough 3-0 decision at 141, Rick Rappo put Penn back in the lead for good with his 17-5 major decision over Jeff Santo. Rappo, wrestling up a weight class at 149 pounds, controlled from the start, scoring three near-falls and two reversals en route to the win.

In the tenth bout, Dragon went into the third period leading 2-0 with a massive riding time advantage of 4:15. Dragon chose down for the final frame and escaped, but gave up two takedowns to Dave Nakasone. However, a late escape and the riding time bonus made the difference.

“Dragon knew he was carrying the team on his shoulders, and he got a great win,” Jones said.

Penn’s is now finished with its dual meet schedule and will now prepare for the EIWA Championships March 2 and 3 at East Stroudsburg.

No. 20 Penn 21, No. 24 Lehigh 15

165 - #10 Zack Shanaman (P) def. Manuel Schubert; MD, 16-7

174 - #11 Matt Herrington (P) def. David Helfrich; MD, 8-1

184 - #12 David Craig (L) def. #14 Lior Zamir; D-SV, 6-4

197 – Matt Cassidy (L) def. Jack Sullivan; F, 4:29

285 - #18 Paul Weibel (L) def. Ben Reiter; D, 4-2

125 – #20 Matt Eveleth (P) def. Matt Fisk; D, 5-3

133 - #1 Matt Valenti (P) def. Seth Ciasulli; D, 6-0

141 - #20 Matt Ciasulli (L) def. Brett McCurdy; D, 3-0
149 – Rick Rappo (P) def. Jeff Santo; MD, 17-5

157 – Matt Dragon (P) def. Dave Nakasone; D, 6-4