Wrestling Gets Second at EIWA Championships

Final EIWA Brackets in PDF Format

LANCASTER, Pa. - For the second time in as many years, and the third time in five years, the Penn wrestling team emerged from the EIWA Championships with three individual champions as Rollie Peterkin (125), Cesar Grajales (149) and Lior Zamir (184) took home titles from Franklin & Marshall. It was the first EIWA crown in all three cases.

However, what may have been the story was the final team score. When the final points were tallied up, the Quakers had 127.5 -- a mere .5 fewer than Cornell, at 128.0. Itmade foran excrutiating and emotional couple of hours as the various weight classes rolled through their championship matches Sunday night at the Mayser Gymnasium on F&M's campus.

You have to go all the way back to 1960, when former members Penn State and Pitt tied for the title, to find a race so close at this event.

Army finished in third place, with 90.0 points, while Navy was fourth with 82.0 points.

"It is emotional," said head coach Zeke Jones, his watery eyes unable to mask how emotionally spent he was. "Think aboutit -- there were 238 matches this weekend, and we lost by half a point. That is incredible. We came in here with a lot of points to make up from seeding, and as an underdog, and we almost got all the way back. I think the guys came in really motivated, and it showed on the mats the last two days.

"Prior to this event, one of the goals that we set was to be the most improved team from the regular season, and I think we showed that," he continued. "I am so proud of how our guys stepped up."

Penn qualified eight wrestlers for the NCAA Championships, which will take place March 20-22 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis -- Peterkin, Grajales and Zamir will be joined by Rick Rappo (141), Zack Shanaman (165), Scott Giffin (174), Thomas Shovlin (197) and Trey McLean (285). Rappo and Shanaman were runner-up in their weight classes; Giffin and Shovlin earned third-place finishes; and McLean received a wild-card entry after his fifth-place standing.

"We will celebrate two good days of wrestling here, but the ultimate goal is success at nationals," said Jones. "We wanted to attack here and we did, and we will have that mentality againduring the nextfew weeks."

Though he probably would have been happier holding the team trophy, Grajales was left smiling at the end of the awards ceremony when he was presented with the Coaches' Trophy, given to the outstanding wrestler at the Championships. He became the second Quaker in a row to receive the honor -- Matt Eveleth took it last year -- and the fifth in the 104-year history of the event.

American's Josh Glenn, who rolled to the title at 197 pounds, received the Fletcher Award for career points accumulated at the EIWAs. The Billy Sheridan Award, given to the wrestler who scores the most falls in the least amount of time, was given to Cornell's Josh Arnone.

Final analysis of Sunday night's championship matches involving Penn wrestlers...

125 - Rollie Peterkin def. Fernando Martinez (Army), 8-5

Peterkin held his top seed with the victory, and gave the Quakers their first title of the night. It is Peterkin's first EIWA championship. Martinez got on the board first with a takedown in the final minute of the first period, but Peterkin escaped and then scored a takedown of his own for a 3-2 lead. Martinez escaped right at the first-period buzzer to make the score 3-3. In the second period, Peterkin scoreda near fall with just over a minute left in the second period to gain a 5-3 lead, and then escaped from the down position to start the third and go up, 6-3. Martinez scored a takedown, and then let Peterkin escape to make it 7-5. Peterkin was able to hold him at bay after that, and with more than a minute of riding time secured the three-point win.

Coach Jones: "Rollie did a great job, getting that half-nelson in the second. He wrestled a good strategical match, Rollie did a good job of negating his opponent's strengths. It is nice to have a youngguy like Rolliewin it this early in his career. This is one step in the real big picture for him."

141 - Matt Kyler (Army) def.Rick Rappo, 7-3

The sixth seed for this event, Rappo had a nice run in getting to the final. That run ended with the top seed, as Kyler scored the first two points with a takedown midway through the first period and never looked back. In the second, Kyler started down but quickly reversed Rappo for two points, and then when Rappo showed life late in the period with a reversal of his own Kyler came right back with another reversal and a 6-2 lead. Rappo escaped to start the third (6-3), but that was all he could muster. Kyler accumulated more than two minutes riding time in the first two periods for his final point.

149 - Cesar Grajales def. J.P. O'Connor (Harvard), 5-4 TB

When these two met in the regular season, O'Connor -- the top seed here -- pulled out a 1-0 win. Not surprisingly, both were very careful with a title on the line. There was little opportunity or attempt at gaining points in the first period, which ended scoreless. O'Connor started down in the second, but escaped after 27 second of ride time by Grajales. The rest of the period again ended with little action of substance. Grajales started down for the third, and escaped with just over a minute remaining in the period. Once again, careful was the order of the day, setting up sudden victory. The action picked up noticeably in SV, but no points could be scored and the match went to two 30-second tiebreakers. In the first one, Grajales started down and quickly escaped, but with time running out O'Connor scored a takedown to take a 3-2 lead. In the second, Grajales let O'Connor escape and went for broke. He caught a huge break when O'Connor was called for stalling, giving Grajales a point, and then with just seconds remaining Grajales scored a takedown to gain the stunning victory.

Coach Jones: "One word to describe it -- unbelievable. I toldCesar afterward I compared it to winning the lottery. He cut the kid, got a stall call and then a takedown, all in the final seconds. That does not happen. We work with our guys on attacking and wrestling at the edge of the mat, and Cesar won by doing both of those things. I think Cesar gained confidence this time around because he realized he could get away from J.P., and that freed him up to wrestle harder than last time."

165 - Mack Lewnes (Cornell) def. Zack Shanaman, 6-4 SV

In the only finals meeting that actually pitted Penn and Cornell wrestlers against each other, top-seeded Mack Lewnes and third-seeded Zack Shanamanneeded extra time to settle things. The first period was a chess match and ended scoreless. Shanaman started the second period in the down position, but needed only seven seconds to escape and gain the first point of the match. Lewnes gained the upper hand, scoring a takedown with about 45 seconds left in the stanza, but once again Shanaman escaped quickly to tie the score without allowing a lot of riding time. In the third, Lewnes escaped almost immediately from the down position to regain a one-point advantage, but Shanaman attacked and scored a takedown for a 4-3 lead with 1:30 to go. Lewnes escaped with 1:10 left, tying the score at 4-4. Starting from neutral with 44 seconds left, Lewnes came oh-so-close to gaining the points needed for victory, but time ran out before he could complete the move. In sudden victory, however, he madeno such errors, scoring the takedown just 18 seconds in and giving Cornell the valuable team points.

184 - Lior Zamir def. Scott Ferguson (Army), 4-2

Knowing he needed a major decision or better to clinch the team title for Penn, Zamir took a few chances; however, while he could not secure those points, he was able to gain the Quakers' third individual title of the night. The match picked up in its second minute, when Ferguson -- the top seed in this weight class -- attacked and caught Zamir off-guard for a takedown and two points. Zamir escaped, however, and then scored his own takedown for a 3-2 lead. Zamir started down in the second and quickly escaped for a 4-2 lead, but that was the only point in the period. The pair started neutral for the third, and while Zamir tried a few moves he could not gain any more points.

Coach Jones: "There is no one I would rather have out there wrestling with somethng like that on the line than Lior. As a captain, he is in the position of taking on the responsibility of doing everythinghe canto help the team win, but I wanted him to make sure he kept his focus and get the win. He did a great job of doing that under difficult circumstances."

Download: 2008_EIWA Brackets.pdf