Wrestling Claims Second at EIWA Championships

Team Scores (PDF)

Final Brackets (PDF)

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - According to the pre-tournament rankings, Penn was the seventh-best team in the conference. According to Penn's wrestlers, they are the second-best team in the conference.

The Quakers announced their presence at Saturday's Day One, with nine wrestlers winning at least one bout. At the end of the day, Penn sat in a second-place tie with Lehigh at 92.5 points. By the end of Sunday's first session, the Red and Blue increased that lead over the Mountain Hawks to 7.5 points as Penn stood alone in second with 113 team points to Lehigh's 105.5. By the time the finals were over, Penn's advantage stood at 113-109.5. Cornell won the team title for the fourth-consecutive year with a total team score of 160.5.

The Quakers came together as a team on the right weekend, placing nine wrestlers - the most since 1999. The highest placing Quakers were Scott Giffin at 174 pounds and Micah Burak at 197 pounds. Both men were up against former EIWA champions who were also the top seeds at their weights, and seeding held in both cases.

"I am just so glad for this team," second-year head coach Rob Eiter said. "For the way this season has gone and everything we have went though, to put this type of weekend together says a lot about the caliber of men in this program."

The greatest value from this weekend may not be the second-place trophy or the trunk-load of placewinner awards. Instead, Eiter believes, it may be the feeling many Penn grapplers had at the end of a match.

"What we will take away from this weekend is the physical results," he said. "Not just the actual hand-raising, but how it felt to give your all and be rewarded."

One of Penn's tri-captains and a finalist at the tournament, Giffin echoed Coach Eiter's thoughts.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this team," he said. "We exceeded a lot of expectations this weekend, maybe even some of our own. However, there is not one guy in the room who is totally happy, because there is still work to do."

Giffin, the second seed at 174 pounds, could not solve the nation-wide problem that is Mack Lewnes, suffering a 9-2 defeat. Cornell's undefeated and un-scored upon senior took Giffin down early and added a second right at the buzzer to take a 4-1 lead after the first period. In the second period, Lewnes was out from bottom at 3:21 and again finished at the end of the period to take a 7-2 lead. Giffin got a point back in the third period, escaping at 5:07. It appeared he was in for the first takedown of the year against Lewnes at 5:25, shooting in and getting Lewnes to the ground. However, the referees arm went only halfway up and no points were awarded. Lewnes scored again at 6:30, countering Giffin's desperation efforts for the final points.

Two bouts later, Micah Burak's attempt to win a conference championship in his freshman season was thwarted by sophomore Cam Simaz of Cornell. The defending EIWA champion at the weight, Simaz was aggressive off the opening whistle, scoring in seven seconds. Burak closed the gap at 1:10 with an escape and went into the second down a point. Simaz was out at 3:09 in the second, but Burak erased the riding time advantage. Burak was close on the edge of the mat off the escape, but the wrestlers were ruled to be out of bounds. In the third, Burak pushed the action a bit, drawing a stall warning on Simaz. However, Burak's throw attempts didn't connect and Simaz earned a 3-1 win.

Trying to find a storyline to focus on from the weekend is a difficult task. The team resurgence is a good choice, but so is Penn placing two wrestlers in the final. However, the mantra for the Red and Blue all season has been overcoming adversity and staying together as a team with set goals in eyesight at the end of the year. With that in mind, how about the Quakers qualifying six wrestlers automatically to the 2010 NCAA Championships?

"While the goal is always to qualify 10 wrestlers, we still had a great outcome in that regard," said Eiter. "There were some tough draws, and we pulled through and earned a few bids that weren't supposed to go our way."

By the end of Saturday, Penn had three wrestlers signed, sealed and delivered for a trip to the national tournament and five more with a berth in range. Over a one-hour period on Sunday morning, three more won their way to Omaha. All three of Sunday's qualifiers did so in different fashion.

First, Bryan Ortenzio lived up to his fifth seed, winning his fifth-place match over Columbia's Andrew Grabfelder, 12-0. Ortenzio lost his consolation semifinal match about an hour prior in heartbreaking fashion and rebounded to improve on his 10-0 defeat of Grabfelder in the dual Feb. 14. The junior from Camp Hill, Pa. knew what needed to be done and attacked immediately, taking a 5-0 lead after one period and cruising to nationals.

Immediately after Ortenzio's win, his frequent training partner, Zack Kemmerer, finished off his run to NCAAs. The fourth seed, Kemmerer needed to win his third-place match to earn the automatic bid. After silencing the Lehigh faithful with a 7-3 win over the No. 2 seed - and national No. 14 - Seth Ciasulli, Kemmerer punched his ticket to nationals with a 7-4 decision over Navy's No. 8-seed Matt Pagan. Kemmerer surrendered the first takedown early, but remained calm and left the first period with a 4-2 lead. After the second period, Kemmerer's lead was only one, but the junior first-year starter added an escape at 5:06 and a takedown at 5:58 to seal the win.

Up next in the third-place match at 149 was senior Cesar Grajales. One of Penn's tri-captains, Grajales had already secured his fourth-career NCAA Championships appearance with a 7-5 win over Columbia's Steve Santos in the consolation semifinals. Wrestling for third place, Grajales took on Navy's Glenn Shober, the fourth seed. Grajales wrestled a technically-sound, if not flashy bout. The seventh-seeded grappler kept Shober at bay in the first period, which went scoreless. Both men traded escapes in the second and third period, Grajales managing his at 5:55 to tie the match. After a scoreless sudden victory period, Grajales went down for the first part of the tiebreaker. He needed 17 seconds to escape, but still took a 2-1 lead into the second period of the tiebreaker. Halfway through that period, Shober tried rolling through, but Grajales kept him down and they rolled out of bounds. On the restart, Grajales broke Shober down to secure the win and his fourth-career EIWA Championships spot on the podium.

While those three locked up their NCAA bids, another Penn wrestler did all he could to make sure the at-large selection committee takes a good look at him. Fifth-seeded Matt Dragon needed to win his consolation semifinal match against second-seeded Steve Fittery of American, but found himself caught with shoulders on the mat in the second period for a loss by fall. In his fifth-place match, Dragon defeated seventh-seeded Brantley Hooks of Bucknell, 7-6. Dragon had a rough first period, giving up a takedown and two backpoints. He came back to outscore Hooks, 7-2 over the final four minutes and get the win. The second period is where Dragon made his move, escaping at the start and adding a pair of takedowns. Hooks escaped in the third to take a 6-5 lead and put Dragon in danger of losing. However, the two-time EIWA champ pulled all his experience together and unleashed a textbook duck-under for the winning takedown at 6:19.

Penn's head coach was pleased with how his two most battle-tested wrestlers performed.

"All season long, and especially this weekend, those two stayed focused. I know performing well here meant a lot to them. Hopefully there are a few more days like this left in their careers."

In the fifth-place match at 165, fifth-seeded Gabriel Burak won his match in historic fashion. At 3:55, he turned Navy's Robby Neill and secured the fall. The pin was Burak's 12th of the year, establishing a new Penn record for falls in a season. He won two matches by fall this weekend to eclipse the previous record of 11 held by Matt Valenti (2002-03) and Rick Springman (1999-2000).

Sandwiched between the two third-place finishers and the three fifth-place finishers is Penn's lone fourth-place winner - heavyweight Tyler Blakely. The eighth-seed entering the tournament, Blakely made the most of his only career conference championships start, going 4-2. He advanced as far as the third-place match, where a win would have sent him to the NCAA Championships. He missed out on a NCAA bid by one point, as Cornell's No. 4 Josh Arnone defeated him, 4-3. Blakely had the first takedown, but Arnone escaped and took Blakely down before the end of the first period. The two traded escapes at the start of the final two periods, but Blakely's shot with 15 seconds remaining did not stick and his miracle run ended.

The six automatic qualifiers will continue their training this week in preparation for the NCAA Championships in Omaha, Mar. 18-20. Matt Dragon will await word on his at-large candidacy March 10.

As Giffin said, "This was a great weekend, but now it is a stepping stone for this program. This isn't the end, only a beginning of what we can achieve.

Penn at the 106th EIWA Championships

Team Scores

1. Cornell, 160.5
2. Penn, 113.0
3. Lehigh, 109.5
4. Bucknell, 103.5
5. American, 96
6. Rutgers, 87
7. Navy, 81.5
8. Army, 65
8. Columbia, 65
10. Brown, 55
11. Harvard, 52.5
12. Princeton, 24
13. Franklin & Marshall, 2

125 - No. 6 Mark Rappo (Eighth Place)
Quarterfinals - lost to No. 3 Jasen Borshoff (American) 1-3, SV2
Consolation - lost to No. 1 Joseph Langel (Rutgers), 7-11
Seventh Place - lost to Greg Einfrank (Brown), Medical Forfeit

133 - No. 5 Bryan Ortenzio (Fifth Place)
First Round - lost to Jacob Bucha (F&M), 5-6
Consolation - defeated No. 3 William Ashnault (Rutgers), 2-0
Consolation Semis - lost to No. 4 David Marble (Bucknell), Fall (4:53)
Fifth Place - defeated Andrew Grabfelder (Columbia), 12-0

141 - No. 4 Zack Kemmerer (Third Place)
Quarterfinals - defeated No. 5 Casey Thome (Army), 8-1
Semifinals - lost to No. 1 Kyle Dake (Cornell), 2-6
Consolation Semis - defeated No. 2 Seth Ciasulli (Lehigh), 7-3
Third Place - defeated No. 8 Matt Pagan (Navy), 7-4

149 - No. 7 Cesar Grajales (Third Place)
Quarterfinals - defeated No. 2 Kyle Borshoff (America), 3-2
Semifinals - lost to No. 3 Matthew Kyler (Army), 4-9
Consolation Semis - defeated Steve Santos (Columbia), 6-5
Third Place - defeated No. 4 Glenn Shober (Navy), 2-1 (TB)

157 - No. 5 Matt Dragon (Fifth Place)
First Round - defeated Matthew Dunn (Columbia), 8-2
Quarterfinals - lost to No. 4 Daryl Cocozzo (Rutgers), 4-7
Consolation - defeated Derek Schreiner (Cornell), 4-2
Consolation - defeated Bryan Tracy (Brown), Fall (6:50)
Consolation Semis - lost to No. 2 Steve Fittery (American) Fall (4:35)
Fifth Place - defeated No. 7 Brantley Hooks (Bucknell), 7-6

165 - No. 5 Gabriel Burak (Fifth Place)
First Round - defeated Adam Hogue (Harvard), Fall (5:29)
Quarterfinals - lost to Eren Civan (Columbia), Fall (4:08)
Consolation - defeated Tanner Shaffer (American), 6-0
Consolation - defeated No. 8 Jeffrey Lemmer (Brown), 4-2
Consolation Semis - lost to No. 2 Justin Kerber (Cornell), 4-6
Fifth Place - defeated No. 6 Robby Neill (Navy), Fall (3:55)

174 - No. 2 Scott Giffin (Second Place)
First Round - defeated David Lalo (Harvard), Fall (5:22)
Quarterfinals - defeated No. 7 Matthew Fullowan (F&M), 10-2
Semifinal - defeated No. 3 Shane Riccio (Bucknell), Fall (6:56)
Final - lost to No. 1 Mack Lewnes (Cornell), 2-9

184 - Harrison Cook
First Round - lost to No. 5 Andrew Buck (Navy), Fall (1:01)
Consolation - defeated Matthew Latessa (F&M), 16-0 (6:26)
Consolation - lost to No. 6 Rob Waltko (Bucknell), 6-11

197 - No. 3 Micah Burak (Second Place)
Quarterfinals - defeated Branden Stearns (Brown), 1-0
Semifinals - defeated No. 2 Richard Starks (Army), 8-5 (TB2)
Finals - lost to No. 1 Cam Simaz (Cornell), 1-3

285 - No. 8 Tyler Blakely (Fourth Place)
First Round - defeated Spencer DeSena (Harvard), 7-0
Quarterfinal - lost to No. 1 Zachery Rey (Lehigh), 1-3
Consolation - defeated Larry Otsuka (Brown), 3-1
Consolation - defeated Orion Ross (Army), 12-5
Consolation Semis - defeated No. 3 Scott Steele (Navy), Medical Forfeit
Third Place - lost to No. 4 Josh Arnone (Cornell), 3-4

Download: Team Score.pdf