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PHILADELPHIA - The final NCAA Coaches Panel and RPI of the regular season have been released and Penn has five wrestlers ranked inside the Top-33 of the Coaches Panel with five also considered among the toughest schedules navigated this season.
In addition, the Coaches Panel and RPI, combined with calculating wrestlers' winning percentages have designated the 29 automatic qualifying spots up for grabs at each weight class in the coming weeks at the various qualifying events around the country. For the Quakers, the road to St. Louis and the NCAA Championships (March 15-17) goes through the EIWA Championships at Princeton (March 3-4) where 46 automatic qualifying spots will be at stake. The 46 AQ spots assigned to the EIWA are the second-most of the 10 qualifying conferences - behind only the Big Ten which will have 74.
Leading the way for the Red and Blue is No. 10 Micah Burak at 197 pounds. A two-time NCAA qualifier who has twice reached the championship bout at the EIWA Championships, Burak is 13-3 against Division I wrestlers this season (16-3 overall). He is the second-highest ranked EIWA grappler, behind No. 1 Cam Simaz of Cornell - the wrestler who has edged Burak the last two seasons at EIWAs. Burak is not found in the RPI ranking, as his 16 total contested matches against Division I wrestlers (Burak has a win against DII Wisconsin-Parkside and was awarded a pair of forfeits in November when American and Arizona State elected not to wrestle at 197 at the Northeast Duals) has him one below the required 17 matches.
Returning All-American Zack Kemmerer is ranked No. 11 at 141 pounds after his 19-3 season. Kemmerer is the highest-ranked EIWA wrestler, but will have a tough road to traverse at EIWAs as six wrestlers are inside the top 23 of the Coaches Panel. A difficult schedule will be nothing new to Kemmerer as he has posted his 19-3 mark while wrestling the sixth-toughest schedule in the country according to the RPI.
Bryan Ortenzio is ranked No. 13 at 133 pounds, right on the cusp of obtaining a national seed at NCAAs. He is 23-3 against DI wrestlers this season, 25-3 overall and will likely be the No. 2 seed at EIWAs next week. Ortenzio's high ranking is no fluke as he is No. 12 on the RPI list.
Penn also has a pair of true freshmen inside the Top-33, with No. 25 Steve Robertson and No. 30 Lorenzo Thomas squarely on the national radar heading into the postseason.
Robertson is 21-6 in his first collegiate season with eight wins in dual matches at 149 pounds. The EIWA Championships will feature a hotly-contested quarterfinal round as seven wrestlers from the conference are inside the Top-33 at 149 pounds. In addition to his No. 25 Coaches Panel ranking, Robertson is No. 26 according to the RPI.
Thomas also has posted 21 wins in his first foray into collegiate wrestling, with a 21-8 record at 165 pounds. He is one of five EIWA wrestlers inside the Top-33 and that group will be chasing one of four AQ spots at EIWAs next weekend. Thomas has wrestled 10 of the Top-33 wrestlers, which has propelled him up to No. 20 in the RPI listing.
Erich Smith is not among the Top-33 according to the Coaches Panel, but is No. 33 on the RPI listing at 184 pounds based on his 12 matches against wrestlers inside the Coaches Panel Top-33.
The EIWA will send at least three wrestlers at each weight to the national tournament, with six automatic qualifying spots up for grabs at three weights - 141, 149, 157. In addition, 133 and 197 pounds will have five automatic qualifying spots at stake. 165, 174 and 184 pounds earned four AQ spots while 125 and 285 will be tighter competitions with three automatic bids to be won.
The 2012 EIWA Championships begin on March 3 at Princeton University's Jadwin Gymnasium, concluding with the championship round on March 4.
Penn has five wrestlers listed in the Coaches Panel Top-33, tying the Quakers with Rutgers, Harvard and Columbia for fourth in the EIWA. Cornell and Lehigh each have eight while American has six. The Red and Blue also have five wrestlers listed on the RPI rankings, again tied for fourth in the EIWA (Columbia). Cornell is tops with nine, while Lehigh boats seven and Rutgers has six. No. 11 Zack Kemmerer has the most wins against Top-33 wrestlers, with a 7-3* record at 141 pounds. * Kemmerer's loss to No. 2 Boris Novachkov at the NWCA All-Star Classic is not counted in his official record. No. 13 Bryan Ortenzio is also above .500 against Top-33 wrestlers with a 5-3 record at 133 pounds. No. 10 Micah Burak is 3-3 against the Top-33 at 197 pounds, with two of his losses coming to the two wrestlers tied at No. 1 (Simaz-Cornell; Honeycutt-Edinboro). No. 25 Steve Robertson is 4-4 at 149 against the Top-33, with a win over No. 23 Steve Santos (Columbia). No. 30 Lorenzo Thomas has been busy inside the Top-33 with nine total matches. He is 2-7 in those bouts, including a win over No. 28 Pierce Harger (Northwestern) and his losses coming to No's. 2, 5, 12, 15, 16, 19, 25, 28. Erich Smith is No. 33 in the RPI, which is understandable with his 12 matches against Top-33 wrestlers in the Coaches Panel. He is 2-10 in those bouts, with wins over No. 24 Tony Dallago (Illinois) and No. 33 Cameron Croy (Harvard). Smith has his losses to No. 2, 4, 5 (twice), 12, 19, 30, 31 (twice) and 33. Penn wrestlers outside the Top-33 in either the Coaches Panel or RPI have also traversed tough schedules. Karim Shafi (0-4 at 125), Ian Korb (1-5 at 174) and Troy Hernandez (0-9 at 157 have all had difficult schedules this season. Hernandez. At heavyweight, EIWA starter Steven Graziano is 1-1 inside the Top-33, with a win over No. 27 Kevin Lester of Columbia and a loss to Boston University's Kevin Innis. Graziano missed most of November and December, and while he was injured, Anthony DiLonardo met a brutal schedule where he went 0-6 against No's 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 25.