Wrestling Has Sights Set on Ivy Crown

PHILADELPHIAWith the home portion of the 2008-09 season complete, the Penn wrestling team heads to New York this weekend for its final Ivy weekend of the season. With a 3-0 record at the moment in Ivy League matches, a sweep this weekend will clinch a 5-0 record for the Quakers in Ivy duals for the first time since the 2001-02 season – the last time the Red and Blue won an Ivy crown.

Up first for Penn is 2-10 Columbia. The Lions boast the 13th-ranked heavyweight in the country in Ryan Flores. He has won 14 matches in a row, including Columbia’s lone win in a dual against Cornell last weekend with a pin over then-No. 12 Zach Hammond.

Last season, Penn defeated Columbia in The Palestra, 31-10. Five of the seven Quakers who picked up wins over the Lions that day are expected in the lineup this weekend. Columbia is expected to counter with three wrestlers who participated in last year’s dual.

Saturday’s expected matchups:

125 – No. 11 Rollie Peterkin (Penn) vs. Kevin Tao (Columbia)

133 – Bryan Ortenzio (Penn) vs. Andrew Grabfelder (Columbia)

141 – Rick Rappo (Penn) vs. Shane Strumwasser (Columbia)

149 – No. 11 Cesar Grajales (Penn) vs. Matt Dunn (Columbia)

157 – No. 18 Matt Dragon (Penn) vs. Derek Sickles (Columbia)

165 – Zack Shanaman (Penn) vs. Eren Civan (Columbia)

174 – Scott Giffin (Penn) vs. Mike Wolfer (Columbia)

184 – Colin Hitschler (Penn) vs. Kenji Porter (Columbia)

197 – Thomas Shovlin (Penn) vs. Lou Miller (Columbia)

Hwt. – Trey McLean (Penn) vs. No. 13 Ryan Flores (Columbia)

After a month without fielding a full starting lineup due to injuries, Penn expects to be back to full strength heading into the final two weeks of the season. Zack Shanaman is slated to return from injury this weekend – just in time for a matchup with No. 1 Mack Lewnes of Cornell on Sunday. Lewnes is 25-0 on the season and is a returning NCAA All-America. Last year, at the EIWA Championships, the two met in the final at 165 pounds, with Lewnes prevailing in sudden victory, 6-4, 18 seconds into the extra frame. Lewnes has been on fire this season, with eight wins by fall and seven others by major decision.

Last season, Penn and Cornell waged intense battle on two occasions – once in a dual meet at The Palestra and a second time at the EIWA Championships. Cornell took the teams’ dual meet, 19-15, after rallying from an early deficit and scoring a huge upset win at 125 pounds from Mike Rodriguez. At the conference tournament, the two teams went down to the wire for the team crown, with Cornell edging Penn by the slimmest of margins at the end, 128-127.5.

If Penn is to climb the final hurdle and secure a dual win and an Ivy crown, it will take a team effort up and down the lineup against the third-ranked squad in the country. Cornell has seven wrestlers ranked in the Top 20 in their weightclass. In addition to No. 1 Lewnes, the Big Red has No. 2 Troy Nickerson (125), No. 12 Mike Grey (133), No. 5 Jordan Leen (157), No. 6 Steve Anceravage (174), No. 16 Justin Kerber (184) and No. 15 Zach Hammond (Hwt.). Leen is the defending national champion at 157.

The dual with Cornell is slated to feature four rematches from last year’s close encounter – at 149, 174, 197 and heavyweight. The two teams split those four matches last year and a swing either way will go a long way to deciding Sunday’s dual.

Sunday’s Probables …

125 – No. 11 Rollie Peterkin (Penn) vs. No. 2 Troy Nickerson (Cornell)

133 – Bryan Ortenzio (Penn) vs. No. 12 Mike Grey (Cornell)

141 – Rick Rappo (Penn) vs. Corey Manson (Cornell)

149 – No. 11 Cesar Grajales (Penn) vs. Daniel Meagher (Cornell)

157 – No. 18 Matt Dragon (Penn) vs. No. 5 Jordan Leen (Cornell)

165 – Zack Shanaman (Penn) vs. No. 1 Mack Lewnes (Cornell)

174 – Scott Giffin (Penn) vs. No. 6 Steve Anceravage (Cornell)

184 –Colin Hitschler (Penn) vs. No. 16 Justin Kerber (Cornell)

197 – Thomas Shovlin (Penn) vs. Cam Simaz (Cornell)

Hwt. – Trey McLean (Penn) vs. No. 15 Zach Hammond (Cornell)

Cornell will be providing match-by-match updates throughout the dual on Sunday. You can access the updates by clicking here. In addition, Cornell will also have a live webcast by clicking here.