Oklahoma City, Okla. Junior Matt Valenti will compete for the 133 pound NCAA Championship on Saturday night at the Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City. The Newton, N.J. native is Penn’s first finalist since Brett Matter in 2000. Classmate Matt Herrington earned All-American status and is going for third place at 174 poundstomorrow morning.
Penn stands in a tie with Northwestern for 12th place with 44 points. The Quakers are just two points behind EIWA foe Lehigh who stands in 10th.
“I am just so proud of the way our guys performed today,” Head Coach Zeke Jones said. The guys were focused, battled hard and gave it everything they had. My hear goes out to Mike Silengo and Matt Dragon, who both came so close to becoming All-Americans.”
Valenti upset the No. 2 seed Nathan Morgan of Oklahoma State. Morgan got a takedown and Valenti escaped in the first period. Valenti rode out Morgan the entire second period and accumulated riding time. Valenti started the third on bottom and escaped. Late in the third, Morgan tried a desperation move which resulted in another Valenti takedown. The final result was a 7-2 win for the Penn captain. Earlier in the day, Valenti upset No. 3 seed Tom Clum of Wisconsin.
“I knew coming into the match there would be a very loud following for him (Morgan). Once you get on that mat your adrenaline gets going and you don’t think about anything else,” Valenti said after his match.
“Valenti took control of his match,” Jones said. “The National Championships are all about how everyone wrestles on top and on bottom and Valenti was able to separate the two in his match and take the energy right out of Morgan to get that takedown in the third and secure the win. He has done a great job, but his job is not done yet!”
Valenti will meet the No. 5 seed Chris Fleeger of Purdue in the championships bout. It will be the first meeting between the two. The finals will air live on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. EST.
Herrington defeated Oklahoma State’s Brandon Mason, the 11 seed, 5-1, in the round of 12. Herrington scored a takedown early in the first and Mason escaped, but Herrington took him down again and rode him out for the rest of the period. Mason chose top to start the second and Herrington escaped. After earning All-American honors, Herrington came out and pinned James Yonushonis of Penn State in the first period to advance to the third-place match. He will No. 5 seed Mike Patrovich for the second time in the tournament.
Freshman Matt Dragon advanced to the Round of 12, but had a tough match-up in the six seed, Jon Masa of Hofstra. Mas won by technical fall, 17-2. Dragon finishes the season 32-7.
125 Mike Silengo
Lost to No. 3 seed Joe Dubuque (Indiana) D; 5-2
Def. Collin Cudd (Wisconsin) D; 10-6
Def. Chad Sportelli (Kent State) D; 9-8
Lost to No. 6 Coleman Scott (Oklahoma State) MD; 9-1
133 No. 6 seed Matt Valenti
Def. Brandon Strong (Air Force) F; 5:45
Def. No. 11 seed Robbie Prestion (Harvard) F; 6:57
Def. No. 3 seed Tom Clum (Wisconsin) D; 7-2
Def. No. 2 seed Nathan Morgan (Oklahoma State) D; 7-3
149 No. 12 seed Matt Dragon
Def. Jeff Owens (Cal Poly) TF, 16-0 (3:16)
Lost to No. 5 Mark Disalvo (Central Michigan) D; 4-2
Def. Andrew Schlaffer (Maryland) MD; 14-4
Def. Trevor Chinn (Lehigh) D; 5-3
Lost to Jon Masa (Hofstra) TF; 17-2 (5:14)
174 No. 12 seed Matt Herrington
Def. Alex Maciag (North Carolina) MD; 16-4
Lost to No. 5 seed Mike Patrovich (Hofstra) D;8-4
Def. Aaron Miller (Kent State) F; 5:46
Def. No. 11 seed Brandon Mason (Oklahoma State) D;5-1
Def. No. 9 James Yonushonis (Penn State) F; 0:49