Wrestling Hosts Keystone Classic This Weekend

Keystone Classic
Nov. 19 - 10 a.m. - Philadelphia, Pa. -The Palestra

NWCA All-Star Classic
Nov. 20 - 7 p.m. - Dallas, Texas - Dallas Convention Center
Internet Video: LiveSportsVideo Internet Radio: Takedown Radio

Notes in PDF format

No. 14 Penn hosts the annual Keystone Classic at The Palestra on Nov. 19. The tournament is the traditional home opener at Penn and brings in schools from up and down the East Coast. Meanwhile, All-Americans Matt Valenti and Matt Herrington travel to Dallas to compete in the prestigious NWCA All-Star Classic.

The Keystone Classic
Nine teams will bid to unseat Penn as Keystone Classic champion. American, Appalachian State, Boston University, Brown, Columbia, Duke, Mercyhurst, Rider and VMI will all compete. Eight wrestlers with national rankings are involved: Penn’s No. 4 Matt Dragon (157) and No. 19 Cesar Grajales (141); American’s No. 3 Josh Glenn (197) and No. 9 Adam LoPiccolo (285); Columbia’s No. 4 Matt Palmer (174); and Rider’s No. 7 Don Fisch (141), No. 20 Mike Kessler (149) and No. 20 T.J. Morrison (197). Ten former champions in total return (see sidebar in PDF notes).

2006 Keystone Classic Schedule

10 a.m. Preliminary Rounds
11:30 a.m. Championship Quarterfinals
11:30 a.m. First Consolation
12:45 p.m. Second Consolation
1:30 p.m. Third Consolation
2:30 p.m. Championship Semifinals
4 p.m. Consolation Semifinals
5:30 p.m. Championship and Cons. Finals

Last Year’s Keystone Classic
Penn is the defending team champion of the Keystone Classic after capturing four individual titles last year to win its first Classic since 2002. Andrew Gold, Matt Eveleth, Matt Valenti and Cesar Grajales — all returners — each won individual crowns. Gold won in riding time at 125 lbs. with a 3-2 victory over Virginia’s Anthony Burke after earning two major decisions and a decision to get to the finals. Eveleth and Valenti shared the 133 lbs. title after an uncontested final. At 141 lbs., it was an all-Penn final, with Grajales defeating Brett McCurdy, 6-3, in the final.

NWCA All-Star Classic
Matt Valenti and Matt Herrington have been invited to compete in the prestigious NWCA All-Star Classic in Dallas on Nov. 20. Penn is one of five programs nationwide to have two wrestlers invited to the showcase — the others are No. 1 Minnesota, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 8 Penn State and No. 10 Northwestern. Valenti, the nation’s top seed at 133, will face No. 5 Coleman Scott of Oklahoma State (Scott finished fifth at NCAA’s at 125 lbs. last year). No. 2 Herrington will match up with No. 3 James Yonushonis of Penn State. Due to participation in the All-Star Classic, Valenti and Herrington will not compete in Sunday’s Keystone Classic.

Valenti vs. Scott
Valenti and Scott have never met. Despite both being East Coast natives, Scott has spent his two collegiate years wrestling at 125 lbs. while Valenti was at 133.

Herrington vs. Yonushonis
Herrington and Yonushonis last met in the consolation quarterfinals at NCAA Championships last year, where Herrington pinned his cross-state rival in just 49 seconds. Herrington went on to finish fifth; Yonushonis, eighth.

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.

Preseason National Rankings
Penn is ranked 14th in the nation in the preseason NWCA/InterMat/USA Today poll. In addition, four grapplers - Matt Valenti (1), Matt Herrington (2), Matt Dragon (4) and Cesar Grajales (19) — are ranked individually.

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 second 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.

Next Time Out
Penn picks up its schedule on Nov. 25 with the Northeast Duals in Albany. The Quakers will face an extremely challenging field, with No. 1 Minnesota, No. 12 Central Michigan, Bloomsburg, and Binghamton all on the slate.

Download: Notes - Keystone and NWCA All-Star.pdf