PHILADELPHIA – First-year University of Pennsylvania Roger Reina Head Coach of Wrestling Alex Tirapelle announced his coaching staff for the 2014-15 season today, retaining a familiar face to Penn fans and adding a new one who has long-standing connections with Tirapelle from his collegiate days.
Matt Valenti ’07, a two-time NCAA champion and three-time All-American for Penn, will return for his sixth season as an assistant at his alma mater. In addition, Pete Friedl, a three-time All-American while a teammate of Tirapelle’s at Illinois, will enter his first year as an assistant with the Quakers.
With Valenti and Friedl serving as assistants, Tirapelle has assembled a coaching staff which features eight combined All-American finishes at the NCAA Championships and 390 career collegiate wins.
Penn’s all-time career wins leader with 137, Matt Valenti won back-to-back national championships at 133 pounds in 2006 and 2007 after finishing fifth at 125 pounds in 2004. A four-time NCAA qualifier, Valenti was a four-time EIWA finalist and three-time champion. In 2007, Valenti earned the John Fletcher Memorial Trophy for the most points scored during a career at the EIWA Championships. He was twice named the EIWA Wrestler of the Year, adding Ivy League Wrestler of the Year honors in 2007 and three unanimous first-team All-Ivy selections.
After graduation, Valenti spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Columbia University while beginning to focus training for freestyle competition. He reached four senior team trials semifinals, including the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. In 2010, Valenti won the gold medal at 60 kgs. at the Sunkist Kids Open and he was a bronze medalist at the 2009 Pan-American Championships.
“I am really excited about the opportunity to work with Penn Wrestling legend Matt Valenti to advance the program,” Tirapelle said. “Matt embodies what we want our guys to strive for on a daily basis. He has achieved excellence in academics and athletics, while managing to be an extremely well-rounded person. Matt's collegiate wrestling career is nothing short of amazing. It includes two individual NCAA championships and three NCAA All-American honors. We couldn't ask for a better standard of comparison for the young men in our program.”
A three-time All-American, who finished as high as third at 184 pounds in 2006, Pete Friedl qualified for four NCAA Championships during his standout collegiate career at Illinois. Friedl, who graduated with 125 career wins, claimed the 2005 Big Ten championship and won the 184-pound crown at Midlands in 2006.
Upon graduating from Illinois, Friedl remained in Champaign as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for four seasons before spending a year as an assistant coach at Appalachian State during the 2010-11 season.
Most recently, Friedl has served as an assistant coach at American University for the past three seasons. While in the nation’s capital, Friedl coached two All-Americans, including primary work with heavyweight Ryan Flores who finished sixth in 2012. Friedl also coached Flores to an EIWA Championship in 2012, one of two EIWA champions during Friedl’s time with the Eagles.
“I'm thrilled to announce that Pete has accepted the offer to join our staff” said Tirapelle. “I can't imagine a better fit for the current needs of the program. He is especially desirable at this point in his career because he is certainly a seasoned coaching veteran, but he is also still young enough to be on the mats with the guys on a consistent basis. Pete will work particularly closely with our upper-weight wrestlers, but his experience and passion will be felt throughout the program. Pete has a laundry list of wrestling and coaching accomplishments, but it's his integrity and commitment that I am really excited about. I couldn't be happier with the hire.”
The Quakers, in the middle of preseason training, will officially begin 2014-15 by hosting the NWCA All-Star Classic in The Palestra on November 1.