HAMPTON, Va. - Penn entered the semifinals of the 2008 Virginia Duals with the task of wrestling the third-ranked team in the country, Oklahoma State. The Quakers were in the match until the last bout before falling, 20-13. The loss relegated Penn to the consolation semifinals, where the Quakers fell toKent State, 18-15. Penn's dual match record now stands at 5-3.
In the semis, Penn jumped out to a quick lead on the Cowboys with a 9-3 win by #8 Rollie Peterkin in 125 pound action. Peterkin scored two takedowns and picked up three near-fall points on Tyler Shinn to pick up the victory.
Oklahoma State posseses the top-ranked 133 pound wrestler in the country in Coleman Scott, and he showed why he is the best in the country with a 10-2 major decision over Bryan Ortenzio. A late takedown by Scott resulted in the bonus points for the Cowboys.
At 141 pounds, #6 Nathan Scott took a 7-3 lead over Penn's Rick Rappo entering the third period. Rappo picked up a point in the third and had a minute of riding time, but was not able to rally, losing 7-5.
#15 Cesar Grajales tightened the match for Penn with a 5-1 win over Quentin Fuentes at 149 pounds. Two takedowns in the first two periods coupled with an escape point was all Grajales needed.
Tom Timothy met up with #13 Newly McSpadden in 157 pound action. Timothy led after the first period, but a seven-point period from McSpadden turned things in the Cowboys' favor, leading to a 9-4 win.
Zack Shanaman wrestled #5 Jake Dieffenbach at 165 pounds. Dieffenbach pulled away in the final period to score a major decision, 11-2.
#4-ranked Brandon Mason awaited Scott Giffin in 174 pound action. Mason scored three more points for the 'Pokes with a 6-0 decision.
#19-ranked Lior Zamir got some back for Penn with a 9-4 win over Cody Hill. Ahead by one point entering the third period, Zamir scored with an escape and then a takedown to win the match and bring the team scores to 17-9 in favor of OSU.
197 pound action saw Thomas Shovlin keep the Red and Blue alive with a 14-2 major decision over Chaz Cointment. Shovlin was in control for most of the match, scoring three take downs and three near-falls, while accumulating 5:53 of advantage time. Entering the final bout, Penn was trailing, 17-13.
In heavyweight action, Penn's Trey McLean met seventh-ranked Jared Hosholt, needing to not only win the match, but to score bonus points to even tie things up.
It was not to be for McLean, as Hosholt used a first-period takedown to take the lead and never look back, winning the bout, 4-0, and securing the match for the Cowboys, 20-13.
After the match, head coach Zeke Jones saw some positives in his team's effort.
"We battled in each and every match," he said, "This was a great opportunity and we won four bouts. Obviously, we wanted the win, so we know there is room for improvement."
One element of the match not lost on Jones was the opportunity for some of his younger wrestlers to compete against the best in the country.
"Guys like Ortenzio and Timothy knew when they decided to attend Penn that they would get the chance to wrestle against the best wrestlers in the country," Jones said, "Our guys wrestled hard against All-Americans and nationally-ranked wrestlers. They handled themselves well and that is positive for our future."
Penn took on Kent State in the consolation semifinals, looking for a spot in the third-place match.
As he had in the previosu three matches, Peterkin provided the Quakers with an early lead, defeating Nicolas Bedelyon, 3-2. The Golden Flashes tied the match with a 3-1 win by Dan Mitcheff over Ortenzio at 133 pounds. A takedown in the third period was all the #13-ranked wrestler in the country needed for the win, knotting the score at 3-3.
Kent State took the lead with a major decision victory by Drew Lashaway at 141 pounds. Rick Rappo injured his ankle and Lashaway took advantage, scoring seven takedowns in the final period en route to a 17-9 win and a 7-3 advantage for the Flashes.
Grajales again won a crucial match for the Quakers, scoring a decision over Clint Sponseller, 10-5. A dominating first period saw two takedowns and three points of back-time to score the win.
Rob Hitschler re-took the lead for Penn with an 11-5 decision over Nick Dierkis. The bout was tied at three points apiece after the first period. Hitschler took Dierkis down three times in the final two frames for the win.
The match turned when Shanaman was pinned at 165 pounds. With his match with Kurt Gross tied at two late in the third, Shanaman was pinned with 44 seconds to go, giving the Golden Flashes a 13-9 advantage.
Jeff Zannetti wrestled for Penn at 174 pounds, and won an 8-2 decision for Penn over Chris Estep. A two take-down first period gave Zannetti an advantage he did not relinquish, bringing Penn back within one point.
After the 174 pound match, Kent State had one team point taken away for team unsportsmanlike conduct. The match was tied, 12-12, with three matches remaining.
At 184 pounds, Penn's Lior Zamir was defeated by Eric Chine, 6-4. Kent State was now up, 15-12.
Thomas Shovlin again came through for Penn, defeating Michael Blackwell, 9-4. A five-point second period (an escape, takedown and two-point near-fall) gave Shovlin a lead he never lost.
With only the heavyweights remaining, both teams were tied at 15.
McLean again had a ranked opponent in front of him, #17 Jermail Porter. The Golden Flash heavyweight scored a quick takedown in the first and had a 3-1 lead entering the third period. McLean was forced to take the offensive, but couldn't take down the big man, falling, 8-3. With the decision, Kent State took th ematch with by a score of 18-15.
Post-match, Jones felt that his team's fates could have been different.
"The final day of a tournament like this always features close matches," he said, "The key is to get bonus points. We split most of our matches today, we just didn't get those extra points that put a team over the top."
He was impressed with the effort from his team, wrestling their seventh match in seven days.
"Sometimes it can be tough wrestling this many matches in a week," Jones said, "But, when you get out on the mat, it is all about competition. You tend to block out how many matches you've had recently and focus on the one you are in at that time. That is what our guys did."
One wrestler in particular who had a good day was Shovlin. Jones was pleased with how the 197-pounder worked in the day's bouts.
"Thomas is just rounding into form," he said, "He missed last year and the early part of this year. He is getting to the point where he knows his own strength and how to utilize them."
When asked what he looked to work on in practice leading up to Penn's next match at Hofstra, Jones answered with two words.
He paused and then explained exactly what that meant.
"When we came off after the Oklahoma State match, we felt okay about what we did. That did not translate fully into the next match against Kent State. We need to be prepared to bring our best whenever it is needed."
If there was any doubt about what that meant, it was clarified when Jones hinted at the upcoming EIWA Championships and NCAA Championships.
"Hopefully this isn't the last time our guys have to wrestle this many times in a short span."