The championship finals are about to begin with Scott Giffin and Micah Burak in action. We will provide updates after each of their matches.
Sorry about the delay, lots of action here. Unfortunately, the end result was two championship finals losses for Penn. Scott Giffin fell to national No. 1 Mack Lewnes of Cornell, 9-2. Micah Burak was edged by No. 1 seed Cam Simaz, 3-1. Heavyweights are finishing up, and we will have final updates in a short while.
BETHLEHEAM, Pa. - Good morning from Day Two of the 106th EIWA Championships. Penn had a very good first day of competition and currently sits tied for second place as a team with 92.5 points. The Quakers are even with host Lehigh, trailing Cornell, which has 124 points.
Penn has two finalists to Lehigh's three, but the Red and Blue have nine wrestlers still in action while the Mountain Hawks will start seven. There is one scheduled match between Penn and Lehigh, with Zack Kemmerer meeting Seth Ciasulli in the consolation semifinals at 141.
Scott Giffin (174) and Micah Burak (197) will represent Penn in the championship finals which begin at 3 p.m. The opponents for Giffin and Burak have similar backgrounds - they are both the top seed in the tournament, both are from Cornell and both are former EIWA champions.
Giffin will wrestle undefeated Mack Lewnes, the top-ranked wrestler in the country at 174 pounds. Lewnes is 35-0 this season and 103-7 for his career. This season, he has 14 wins by fall and has yet to surrender an offensive point this season. Giffin and Lewnes wrestled in the dual this season, with Lewnes taking a 13-4 major decision. Giffin was in on a few shots early and if he can close on one early has a chance to put Lewnes in a position he has not been in all season.
Burak and his opponent, Cam Simaz, are quite familiar with each other. They have wrestled twice this season, with Simaz winning both matches. In November, Simaz defeated Burak, 1-0, in the final of the Binghamton Open. This past February, Simaz claimed a 5-3 decision at the dual. Simaz is 36-5 and is the defending EIWA champion at 197 pounds. Burak enters with a 22-7 record and is coming off a tremendous win over Army's Richard Starks in the semifinals. Burak definitely has a style of match he wants to wrestle, and if he can dictate the pace, Penn may have its first rookie EIWA champ since Matt Dragon in 2006.
In addition to the finalists, seven other Penn wrestlers are in action:
125 - No. 6 Mark Rappo vs. Greg Einfrank (Brown) - Seventh Place
Implications: With four automatic qualifiers at this weight, Rappo will miss out on earning one of those berths and is squarely on the bubble for an at-large bid.
133 - No. 5 Bryan Ortenzio vs. No. 4 David Marble (Bucknell) - Consolation Semifinals
Implications: Ortenzio needs to win one match to earn his first NCAA Championships berth. There are five AQs at this weight, and a win assures Ortenzio at least fourth place. If he loses, he needs to win his final match for fifth place. Ortenzio also has personal revenge on his mind, as Marble owns two wins over him at the past two EIWA Championships.
141 - No. 4 Zack Kemmerer vs. No. 2 Seth Ciasulli (Lehigh) - Consolation Semis
Implications: There are three AQs at this weight, so Kemmerer needs two wins to lock up his NCAA berth. He is also in the mix for an at-large bid but a win here to ensure fourth place would go a long way to securing a wild card entry as well. Kemmerer also has a chance to avenge a tough loss in the dual to Ciasulli last month. The two were in sudden victory when Ciasulli caught Kemmerer from neutral position for the fall.
149 - No. 7 Cesar Grajales vs. Steve Santos (Columbia) - Consolation Semis
Implications: Grajales advanced to the semis in his final EIWAs, but was defeated by Army's Matt Kyler. Now, Grajales is focused on one more win. If he defeats Santos, one of the four AQs at this weight is his. Santos defeated Grajales at the dual in February, but there is no question Grajales is a different wrestler now than he was a month ago.
157 - No. 5 Matt Dragon vs. No. 2 Steve Fittery (American) - Consolation Semis
Implications: Dragon is another senior who is close to overcoming season-long injuries to qualify for nationals. This weight has four AQs, and a win over Fittery will lock one up for the three-time national qualifier. Fittery is the fourth-ranked wrestler in the country and is 28-2 this season. He is a former Division II All-America and 26 of his 28 wins have included bonus points. Hard to believe Dragon won't go all-out here with what is on the line.
165 - No. 5 Micah Burak vs. No. 2 Justin Kerber (Cornell) - Consolation Semis
Implications: Pride and placement. Both wrestlers have already automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships as there are six AQs at this weight. Kerber defeated Burak, 3-1, at the dual in there only matchup of the season. Burak can help out the team cause with points here.
285 - No. 8 Tyler Blakely vs. No. 3 Scott Steele (Navy) - Consolation Semis
Implications: Blakely has been an important part of Penn's team success so far, with three wins. Steele is 14-3 this season and is as tough as they come. There are three AQs at this weight, so for Blakely to complete the run he needs two more wins without a loss.
10:12: Bryan Ortenzio was up first for Penn in the consolation semifinals, and was caught late in the second period by David Marble of Bucknell, losing by fall at 4:53. The score was tied 2-2 at the time of the fall, when Ortenzio came out of a scramble with his shoulders on the mat to induce the pin. He will wrestle for fifth place later today, still looking to automatically qualify for NCAAs.
10:38: Very busy few minutes there as Penn had four wrestlers in action. Cesar Grajales and Zack Kemmerer made the biggest noise, each winning his consolation semifinal match.
Grajales defeated Columbia's Steve Santos, 7-5, to not only advance to the consolation final, but lock up an NCAA Championships berth as well. Grajales scored a takedown in the first period, scoring at 1:02. Santos escaped, and did so in the second period as well to tie the score. In the third, Grajales escaped to take the lead and then came right back with his second takedown. His escape was timely as it came just before his riding time went below 1:00. Santos was able to escape and then score a takedown with 10 seconds left. Grajales had riding time locked up so Santos let him escape, but there was not enough time to tie the match and Grajales moves on to his fourth NCAA Championships. Grajales will wrestle Navy's Glenn Shober for third.
Kemmerer made a dent in the team score, defeating Lehigh's Seth Ciasulli, 7-3. Kemmerer shot first, taking Ciasulli down at 2:33. Ciasulli countered with a reversal to tie the match, coming close to nearfall points or even a pin. However, time ran out before either could happen. In the second, Kemmerer went to his strength, choosing neutral. That move paid off with a takedown at 4:23. In the third, Ciasulli got a point back with an escape at 5:48. Kemmerer was again the aggressor, connecting on a single at 6:40 to put the match out of reach. Riding time gave him an extra point and a date in the consolation finals against Navy's Matt Pagan. A win will automatically qualify Kemmerer for his first NCAA Championships.
Matt Dragon was defeated in his consolation semifinal by No. 2 seed - and national No. 4 - Steve Fittery by fall at 4:35. Fittery was a force in the match, as his 28-2 record entering the day shows. He took Dragon down quickly and after Dragon reversed to tie the match, Fittery rolled through on a five-point move on a reversal and three backpoints to extend his lead to 7-2. Dragon escaped with four seconds left to close the gap a bit. In the second, Dragon chose bottom and Fittery again scored backpoints with a three-point tilt at 4:35. Dragon was close to a possible defensive pin near the edge of the mat, but Fittery held him off to flip the situation. Fittery locked Dragon's shoulders shortly thereafter to send Dragon to the fifth-place bout against Bucknell's Brantley Hooks.
Gabriel Burak was defeated by Cornell's Justin Kerber in a consolation semifinal match at 165, 6-4. Kerber scored an early takedown in the first, but Burak was able to escape before the end of the period. In the second, Burak even the match with another escape for the only scoring of the period. In the third, Kerber retook the lead on a reversal which also regained riding time. Burak was able to reverse for two points of his own in the final 10 seconds, but still trailing via riding time he needed to cut Kerber and go for the takedown. He couldn't get in and will move to the fifth-place match against Army's Robby Neill.
At heavyweight, Tyler Blakely advances via a medical forfeit from Navy's Scott Steele. Blakely will wrestle Cornell's Josh Arnone in the consolation semifinals. The winner of that match will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships.
12:16: Lots to catch up on here as the place winners through 165 have been decided. In these consolation finals, Penn has had five wrestlers compete - and all five won. Two more wrestlers have locked up automatic berths to the NCAA Championships while one broke a school record held by one of Penn's all-time greats.
At 133, Bryan Ortenzio defeated Columbia's Andrew Grabfelder, 12-0, to claim fifth place and his first NCAA berth. Ortenzio was in control throughout, with a takedown just five seconds into the match. He added three backpoints late and his 5-0 lead was insurmountable. Ortenzio started the second and third periods on bottom and both times added a reversal. In the third he tacked on three more backpoints to reach bonus points and the national tournament.
Following up was Zack Kemmerer in the third-place match at 141. Kemmerer gave up the first takedown to Navy's Matt Pagan, but rallied for a 7-4 win. By the end of the first period, Kemmerer had a 4-2 lead after a penalty point, and escape and a takedown with seven seconds left. Pagan closed within one via an escape in the second, but that was it. In the third, Kemmerer was up and out quickly and then with just over a minute left he converted another high shot for a takedown. Pagan escaped late, but Kemmerer was able to hold him off to punch his ticket to Omaha.
Next came Cesar Grajales in the third-place match at 149. The match was a typical Grajales affair, slow to develop but technically sound. The only points in regulation came on escapes - first for Navy's Glenn Shober in the second at 3:59 and then for Grajales in the third at 5:55. Grajales had the two best chances to score a takedown, but twice couldn't pull Shober back in. The two went through sudden victory scoreless and headed to tiebreakers. Grajales was on bottom for the first period and escaped with 13 seconds left in the first tiebreaker. In the second period, Grajales kept Shober down, surviving a scramble off the start and riding out on a restart for the win and third-place finish.
Another senior, Matt Dragon, ended his EIWA career with a win, defeating Bucknell's Brantley Hooks, 7-6, to finish in fifth place. The win was an impressive comeback as Hooks took a 4-0 lead in the first period after a takedown and two backpoints. Dragon then put together a five-point second period to tie the match. He escaped at 3:27 and then shot for two points at 3:43. Hooks managed an escape at 4:02, but Dragon was relentless and scored another takedown at 4:32 to send the match to the third period tied. In the final period, Hooks escaped at 5:27 to take the lead. Dragon needed a takedown to win and finished at 6:19. He is a four-time placewinner at EIWAs and will await word on an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.
After Dragon's win, Gabriel Burak did what he has done for the majority of this season - pin his opponent. His fall over Navy's Robby Neill at 3:55 was his 12th of the season and sets a new school record for falls in a season. He broke the previous record he shared with two-time national champion and current assistant coach Matt Valenti (2002-03) and Rick Springman (1999-2000). Burak led 2-0 at the time after a takedown late in the first period. Neill chose bottom for the second and Burak patiently worked the turn for the fall.
As it stands, Penn is in second place as a team with 110.5 points. The Quakers trail Cornell but are ahead of Lehigh by six points.
1:10: Tyler Blakely was this close to advancing to the NCAA Championships, losing to Cornell's No. 4 Josh Arnone, 4-3. Blakely finishes in fourth place, a big improvement from his eighth seed.
Blakely scored the first points on a takedown at 0:22. He had trouble holding Arnone down and the Cornell senior escaped quickly. Arnone then came in for a takedown of his own at 2:32 to take a 3-2 lead into the second period. Arnone escaped at 3:04 to open his lead to two points. In the third, Blakely escaped at 5:03 to climb within one. Blakely knew a takedown would win and he almost scored it with 15 seconds left, ducking in and grabbing a hold of the right leg. Arnone was able to pull away before he locked in the shot and that was as close as Blakely would get.
The consolation finals are over and Stabler Arena is being converted to the setting for the championship finals. The finals begin at 3 p.m. with Penn's Scott Giffin and Micah Burak scheduled for action in the second half of the championship bouts. Live coverage can be found via the link at the top of the page.