Wrestling Heads To Cornell, Columbia With Ivy Title Hopes

No. 16 Pennat No. 13 Cornell
Feb. 9, 2007 - 7 p.m.
Ithaca, N.Y.
TV: CSTV (via tape delay, Mon. Feb. 12, 9 p.m.)

No. 16 Penn at Columbia
Feb. 10, 2007 -7 p.m.
New York, N.Y.

Notes in PDF Format (includes line-ups, statistics and more)

Penn is gunning for its first Ivy League title since 2001-02 as it faces a critical pair of dual meets this weekend. The Quakers will take on No. 13 Cornell in Ithaca Friday evening before heading to the Big Apple to face an upstart Columbia squad. A pair of wins would all but lock up an Ivy crown.

Projected Starters

125 Rollie PeterkinOR #16 Matt Eveleth
133 #1 Matt Valenti
141 Brett McCurdy
149 Rob Hitschler OR Rick Rappo OR Brian Spangler
157 #20 Matt Dragon
165 #17 Zack ShanamanOR Brock Wittmeyer
174 #10 Matt Herrington
184 #13 Lior Zamir
197 Jack Sullivan
285 Ben Reiter

Penn-Cornell on CSTV
The Penn-Cornell dual will be taped by CSTV for airing on Monday, Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. It is Penn’s only appearance on national TV this season. CSTV is available on DirecTV channel 610 and locally on Comcast Digital Cable channel 274.

Valenti Back on Top at 133 Pounds
Defending national champion Matt Valenti retook the nation’s top ranking at 133 pounds Tuesday after Michigan State’s Nick Simmons, who had held the position after beating Valenti in the final of the Michigan State Open in November, lost over the weekend. Valenti is 19-2 this year with an 11-0 dual-meet record. His only other loss came to No. 7 Matt Keller of Tenn.-Chattanooga in the final at the Las Vegas Invitational.

In The Rankings
Despite winning four duals over the weekend, Penn fell to 16th in the nation as a team this week. The Quakers also have individuals ranked in six of the 10 weight classes. Three grapplers — Matt Eveleth (16th at 125), Zack Shanaman (17th at 165) and Lior Zamir (13th at 184) broke into the rankings after outstanding performances in Las Vegas and have stayed there since. Meanwhile, Matt Valenti (First at 133), Matt Dragon (20th at 157) and Matt Herrington (10th at 174) have been familiar faces in the rankings throughout the season.

Scouting Cornell
All eyes will be on the 133-pound bout Friday night as No. 1 Matt Valenti meets No. 3 Adam Frey. Frey has burst onto the national scene as a freshman and will be facing Valenti for the first time. But that won’t be the only battle featuring ranked wrestlers - 184 lbs. will feature No. 10 Steve Anceravage and No. 17 Zack Shanaman while 125 could see No. 16 Matt Eveleth face off against No. 2 Troy Nickerson. Cornell is coming off an upset win over Hofstra, a team that easily beat Penn, 31-3, two weeks ago.

Scouting Columbia
The Lions have enjoyed a fantastic 2006-07 campaign that saw them earn a national ranking for the first time in program history last month. They feature balance throughout the line-up, and key match-ups will come at 174 lbs. (No. 10 Matt Herrington vs. No. 18 Matt Palmer) and 184 lbs. (No. 13 Lior Zamir vs. No. 14 Justin Barent).. Penn and Columbia have seen each other already this year - the Lions came to The Palestra and won the Keystone Classic earlier this year. Despite the team victory, Penn went 4-1 in individual matches against Columbia - see the sidebar for match-ups between the two teams that occurred at the Classic.

Valenti Nears the Wins Record...
Senior Matt Valenti is closing in on Penn’s all-time wins record. His three wins and a forfeit victory over the weekend give him 124 victories in total, just four short of the all-time program record of 128 held by Brett Matter.

...While Herrington Nears 100
Teammate Matt Herrington has also broken onto the list - he’s ninth all-time with 89 wins. Herrington has a chance to become just the seventh grappler in Penn history to reach 100 wins.

Hofstra Rolls Over Penn
The Hofstra dual was one Quaker fans would like to forget — Penn managed just one win, by Matt Valenti at 133 lbs. (in a fifth overtime, no less) and the No. 6-ranked Pride racked up 31 points in all.

The 2007 National Duals
Penn turned in a 1-2 performance at National Duals, where it lost to then-No. 1 Missouri and then-No. 9 Central Michigan and beat West Virginia. The Quakers were making their first appearance at the Duals since 2004. Several individual efforts stood out — 125-pounder Matt Eveleth won all three of his matches, two of them by fall; Matt Dragon continued his winning ways at 157 with a trio of victories; and Rick Rappo scored a major upset at 141 with his win over No. 14 Eric Kruger of Central Michigan.

Three Champs at Millersville
Jeff Zannetti, Jack Sullivan and Trey McLean each won a title at the Shorty Hitchcock Open at Millersville University Jan. 5. Zannetti took the 165 title with a 5-0 record, while Sullivan came out on top of a pair of 3-2 decisions in his last two matches to win at 197. McLean, making his career debut with the Quakers, won the heavyweight bracket with a 3-0 record.

Rappo Wins at Wilkes
Rick Rappo earned his first career tournament title at the Wilkes Open on Dec. 27, running off three wins to claim the 141-pound championship. Rappo avenged an early-season loss to BU’s Carlo Farrandino, 13-7, in the final. Andrew Coles also placed at the tournament, coming in third at 165 lbs.

Wittmeyer Wins at Penn State
Senior Brock Wittmeyer captured the 165-lb. title at the Nittany Lion Open on Dec. 3. Wittmeyer put up a 6-0 record at the tournament, defeating Penn State’s Dave Rella, 4-1, in the final.

Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational
Penn turned in an outstanding third-place finish in Las Vegas, finishing with 100.5 team points, just behind Michigan’s 109. Missouri ran away with the competition, finishing with 157 points. Matt Valenti and Matt Herrington were each runners-up in their weight classes, while Matt Eveleth finished third at 125 lbs. Zack Shanaman finished fourth at 165 and Lior Zamir was the seventh-place finisher at 184.

The Northeast Duals
The Quakers split their four meets at the Northeast Duals, beating Binghamton and Bloomsburg while falling to No. 12 Central Michigan and No. 1 Minnesota. Individually, Matt Valenti and Matt Dragon wrestled well, both winning all of their matches. Dragon’s day was highlighted with his match with No. 6 CP Schlatter of Minnesota. Although Dragon won by injury default late in the third period, he had the match in hand with the score at 4-4 and riding time locked up. Matt Herrington also beat a ranked opponent, defeating No. 12 Gabe Dretsch of Minnesota with a 10-7 decision.

NWCA All-Star Classic
Senior Matt Valenti scored a 6-5 win over No. 5 Coleman Scott of Oklahoma State, while classmate Matt Herrington fell to No. 3 James Yonushonis of Penn State, 5-4, Nov. 20 at the NWCA All-Star Classic in Dallas. It was the first participation in the event for the pair, who were both All-Americans last season. Valenti took an early lead on Scott and secured the riding time advantage to negate two late takedowns by Scott. Herrington led for most of the match until Yonushonis tied it in the third and scored a takedown. Despite getting the riding time point, Herrington still turned up on the losing end.

The Keystone Classic
Penn crowned two champions and came in second in the team standings at the 2006 Keystone Classic. Despite being without five of its 10 starters for various reasons, the Quakers turned in a very strong showing. At 125, it was all Penn as senior Matt Eveleth beat freshman Rollie Peterkin in the final, while sophomore Matt Dragon rolled through the 157-lb. bracket to earn his first Keystone title. The Quakers turned in four second-place finishers, as well — Peterkin, Brock Wittmeyer (165), Colin Hitschler (184), and Jack Sullivan (197).

At the Michigan State Open
The Quakers turned in a successful performance at the Michigan State Open on Nov. 19, and senior Matt Herrington captured the title at 174 lbs. Herrington dominated the field, with two falls and two major decisions en route to a 5-2 decision in the final over Indiana’s Trevor Perry. All told, Penn grapplers won 64 bouts and won 11 places at the open. Matt Valenti was the second-place finisher at 133 lbs.; Rob Hitschler and Lior Zamir each took fourth; Cesar Grajales, Thomas Shovlin and Gene Zannetti grabbed fifth-place spots; and Colin Hitschler and Jack Sullivan each earned seventh-place showings. Zack Shanaman and Jeff Zannetti were set to wrestle for fifth place at 165 lbs., but the match was declared a double forfeit. Matt Dragon finished eighth at 157 lbs. No team standings were kept at the event.

Preseason EIWA Poll
Penn was selected third in the preseason EIWA coaches’ poll. Cornell was picked to win, with Lehigh second. Ivy League foes Columbia and Harvard were selected fourth and fifth, respectively, behind the Quakers.

Head Coach Zeke Jones
Zeke Jones begins his second season at the helm of Penn wrestling after a wildly successful freshman campaign. Jones led the Quakers to an 11-5 dual-meet record and a 12th-place finish at NCAA championships with a program-record 51 points, while coaching a national champion and another All-America. Jones was named the 2006 Rookie Coach of the Year by Amateur Wrestling News.

Welcoming... Rob Eiter
Rob Eiter begins his first season as an assistant coach with the Quakers after serving as an assistant at Big Ten power Northwestern for the past four seasons. Eiter is a two-time Olympian who brings a wealth of knowledge to Philadelphia. Last season, he helped the Wildcats to a 13th-place finish at NCAA’s with three All-Americas. Prior to his time in Evanston, Eiter was an assistant at Clarion, where he helped Sheldon Thomas win a national title and coached four-time All-America Bryan Stout. Eiter also coached the 1999 women’s world championship team. As a wrestler, Either was an Olympian in 1992 and 1996 and is a five-time U.S. Open national champion and two-time World Cup silver medalist.

The Captains
Matt Valenti and Rob Hitschler have been selected captains for the 2006-07 season.

City of Brotherly Love
For the second year in a row, Penn has three sets of brothers on its roster — Colin and Rob Hitschler, Andy and Matt Valenti and Jeff and Gene Zannetti. Penn has had 14 sets of brothers compete on the same roster throughout its history.

Live Video
Live video of all of Penn’s home dual meets this season is being offered on the Penn Sports Network, PennAthletics.com’s exclusive multimedia network devoted to Quaker athletics. A 2007 winter and spring season pass is only $9.95 and includes all wrestling and men’s and women’s basketball, as well as select special events.

Quaker Notemeal
Penn met Columbia in New York in its first-ever wrestling meet, 101 years ago on Feb. 7, 1906. Penn lost, 4-3 ... The series with Cornell is also 101 years old, as Penn tied the Big Red on Feb. 23, 1906, 3-3 ... The Quakers have been nationally-ranked every week since Dec. 10, 2005 when it broke in at 22nd in the nation ... Penn has already faced two No. 1-ranked teams and five top-12 teams this season ... Penn has not beaten a ranked team since the 2003-04 season when it upset No. 3 Iowa State at the National Duals ... Matt Eveleth leads the team with six falls in 13 wins this year.

Next Time Out
Penn returns to The Palestra for the final time this year to face No. 21 Nebraska on Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. before heading to Princeton for a meet that evening at 7:30 p.m.

Download: feb 9-10 notes.pdf