ST. LOUIS For the first time since 1996, Penn will not be represented in the parade of All-Americans on the final night of the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Over the past 11 national tournaments, the Red and Blue have seen 20 wrestlers earn such an honor.
Penn started the Round of 12 on Friday night with two men in the hunt for All-American status. Rollie Peterkin (125 pounds) and Zack Shanaman (165 pounds) both had fought their way though the wrestlebacks after losing in the second round to compete for the final eight.
At the end of the Round of 12, both Penn grapplers had bowed out of the tournament Peterkin with a 5-3 loss in sudden victory to James Nicholson of Old Dominion, and Shanaman when his last-ditch shot failed to score the winning points on Nebraska’s Stephen Dwyer, resulting in a 5-4 decision loss.
Rollie Peterkin’s quest to become an All-American ended in the Round of 12 when James Nicholson scored a takedown 32 seconds into sudden victory for a 5-3 win. Sudden victory came about after Nicholson scored a takedown with 30 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the match, 3-3. Peterkin attempted to flip over out while Nicholson had a hold of leg at the tail end of regulation for an escape or reversal and came very close to executing, but could not escape Nicholson’s grasp.
Peterkin started the scoring with a takedown at the 2:53 mark of the match. With time running out in the first period, Peterkin attacked the upper body and brought Nicholson down to the mat for the early lead. Nicholson managed an escape with 36 seconds left in the second period to get within one. Peterkin matched that escape with one of his own six seconds into the final period, but could not fight off the takedown at the end that sent the match to extra time.
Zack Shanaman was the last remaining Quaker in the field and was faced with the task of upsetting the fifth seed at 165, Stephen Turner of Nebraska. Dwyer scored first, taking Shanaman down 54 seconds into the bout. Shanaman was able to escape with 41 seconds left in the first period to close within one. Shanaman then took the lead with a takedown of his own at the edge of the mat right in front of the Husker coaches with two seconds left in the opening period. Shanaman had one leg up off the ground and swept the other, pouncing on Dwyer for the two points and a 3-2 lead after one. Dwyer chose to start the second period on bottom and needed 59 seconds to escape and tie the match. Shanaman had choice for the third period and decided to start the period with both men in the neutral position. With the match tied and neither man holding an edge in riding time, the next points would be crucial. Dwyer scored the eventual winning takedown with just over a minute remaining in the match. Shanaman did not give up, working the escape with 30 seconds left to pull within one. Shanaman was close to winning the match at the buzzer as he had Dwyer scrambling on the edge of the mat closest to the official table, but could not score the two.
With the losses, Penn’s team score will remain at 10.5 points. The official place for the Red and Blue will not be known until the end of the tournament.
While there were no medals or podium visits for the Quakers this season, Penn can be pleased with the fact that of the eight qualifiers in action this weekend, seven were underclassmen. Only Lior Zamir will graduate from the team. Factor in Matt Dragon, a two-time NCAA qualifier who sat out this season, and the future looks bright for Penn.
“You never want a NCAA Championships to be a learning experience’ because that means you didn’t have tremendous success,” head coach Zeke Jones said after the bouts. “However, if that is what this tournament turns out to be, then that is an okay thing. Now, the men who were here know how to prepare and have some good results at this tournament. When they earn their way back here in the future, they will be ready to take the next step.”
Jones was also quick to remind his team about the success they had prior to the NCAAs.
“We had a lot of successful moments this season,” he said. “While this moment may leave a bad taste in our mouths, it should motivate everyone involved with this program to get better and work harder in every facet of wrestling.”
Part of the motivation will be attending tomorrow’s sessions to watch the final bouts and for the younger members of the team to experience the atmosphere of the finals so they are ready for their own moment in future tournaments.
“Every one of our underclassmen has a chance to be a leader next season,” Jones said. “They are all capable of winning championships both conference and national.”
Here are the final results for Penn at the 2008 NCAA Championships
125 lbs. #9 Rollie Peterkin
Rd. 1 W, 17-1 Jonathan Bittinger (Duquesne)
Rd. 2 L, 3-8 #8 Brandon Precin (Northwestern)
Con. 3 W, 5-0 Nikko Triggas (Ohio State)
Con. 4 W, 3-0 Eric Hoffman (North Dakota State)
Con. 5 L, 3-5 SV1 #10 James Nicholson (Old Dominion)
141 lbs. Rick Rappo
Rd. 1 L, 0-5 #3 Kellen Russell (Michigan)
Con. 1 L, 6-9 Germane Lindsey (Ohio University)
149 lbs. Cesar Grajales
Rd. 1 L, 1-4 #4 Jordan Burroughs (Nebraska)
Con.1 W, 7-5 Lucas Epsericueta (Stanford)
Con. 2 L, 0-4 Brandon Carter (Central Michigan)
165 lbs. Zack Shanaman
Rd. 1 W, 5-4 #7 Jake Dieffenbach (Oklahoma St.)
Rd. 2 L, 4-7 #10 Michael Cannon (American)
Con. 3 W, 4-1 Roger Smith-Bergsrund (Illinois)
Con. 4 W, 3-1 Ethan Headlee (Pittsburgh)
Con. 5 L, 4-5 #5 Stephen Dwyer (Nebraska)
174 lbs. Scott Giffin
Rd. 1 L, 0-6 #9 Brandon Mason (Oklahoma St.)
Con. 1 L, 3-5 #8 Gabriel Dretsch (Minnesota)
184 lbs. Lior Zamir
Rd.1 L, 0-6 #1 Jake Varner (Iowa State)
Con. 1 W, M For Christopher Daggett (Liberty)
Con. 2 L, F 2:11 #11 Rocco Caponi (Virginia)
197 lbs. Thomas Shovlin
Rd. 1 L, 1-3 SV #9 Patrick Bond (Illinois)
Con. 1 L, 2-3 Richard Starks (Army)
285 lbs. Trey McLean
Rd. 1 L, F 2:59 #5 Jared Rosholt (Oklahoma St.)
Con. 1 L, 0-6 John Wise (Illinois)