Wrestling NCAA Championships Live Blog: PETERKIN ADVANCES TO QUARTERS

ST. LOUISGood morning from the 2009 NCAA Championships!

Penn has six wrestlers in the field at the tournament and the Quakers are looking to rack up as many wins as possible with the end goal being a spot on the podium on Saturday night as an All-American.

The Quakers have two wrestlers competing in pigtail matches in the preliminary round – Matt Dragon at 157 pounds and Trey McLean at 285 pounds. Those guys should be up pretty quick in the early portion of the day, with Rollie Peterkin’s first-round match at 125 to follow.

I will be live matside throughout the day with recaps and thoughts on Penn’s matches as well as other interesting happenings at the tournament. If you have any questions or comments or even suggestions, please feel free to contact me at dorman@upenn.edu.

9:34 p.m. – Penn is finished up for the day, with Cesar Grajales advancing past Mitchell Polowske of Northern Colorado, 11-2, for a Penn bonus point. Grajales had no trouble with Polowske, taking a 5-1 lead after the first period with a takedown and three backs. After escaping in the second, he added two takedowns and riding time in the third for the win. He will wrestle Army’s Matthew Kyler, the #8 seed in tomorrow’s consolation round.

Rick Rappo’s Penn career came to an end with a 7-0 loss to Boise State’s Cory Fish. Rappo had a tough time with Fish, giving up a takedown in the first and then being turned in the second. Fish added a reversal in the third for the final score.

That is a wrap for the blog tonight. We will be back tomorrow with the quarterfinals starting at 10 a.m.

8:40 p.m. – I was able to grab a few minutes with Rollie Peterkin after his bout with Tyler Clark, and Penn’s #8-seeded 125-pounder is pleased with his day and excited for tomorrow’s match with #1 Paul Donahoe.

“Last year, I lost in the second round,” said Peterkin, “This feels better.”

When asked to summarize his day, Peterkin felt that the preparation put into the tournament is paying off.

“I feel really good right now he said,” I think that I have been doing everything right in the training room and it paid off today.”

He was quick to point out that today’s success doesn’t mean much tomorrow when the quarterfinals start.

“I definitely have my work cut out for me,” he said. “There is no hiding out in the tournament.”

Peterkin and his opponent in the quarters have met this season, with Donahoe taking a 15-5 major decision. Peterkin sees some merit in having faced his opponent already.

I think I have a good feel for him,” he said. “I think I have the ability to beat anyone in this tournament.”

When asked about the first day of the tournament in general, Peterkin had his thoughts on why there were so many upsets on Day One.

“It is chaotic out there,” he said. “Anything goes and anything can happen at the national tournament. There are no easy matches. Everyone belongs in this field. It doesn’t matter if you are the one seed or unseeded, you have to wrestle your best.”

For Peterkin, he hopes that tomorrow morning, on national television, his best will be enough to earn a date in the semifinals – and All-America honors.

8:09 p.m. – Scott Giffin was defeated in the second round by #7 Mike Miller of Central Michigan. He moves on to the wrestlebacks. Miller scored the only takedown of the match at the 1:26 mark for two points. Giffin escaped with 1:02. Miller worked a quick escape in the second for a 3-1 lead. In the third, Miller rode the whole period for the advantage point and the 4-1 win.

Scott awaits the winner of Virginia Tech’s Anthony Trongone and Wyoming’s Shane Onufer in tomorrow’s next round.

Be back in a few with some quotes from Rollie Peterkin.

7:00 p.m. – Rollie Peterkin punched his ticket to the quarterfinals with a workmanlike 6-3 decision over #9 Tyler Clark of Iowa State. Peterkin scored the first points with a takedown early in the first period. Clark got out, but Peterkin went right back and added another two points. In the second period, Peterkin rode tough the entire frame, locking up the riding time point. In the third, Rollie escaped to add to his lead. Clark scored a late takedown to close the gap. But Peterkin was safely ahead.

Tomorrow morning, live on ESPNU, Rollie Peterkin will wrestle the #1 seed, Paul Donahoe of Edinboro, in the quarterfinals. Donahoe is the 2007 NCAA champion and is an undefeated 33-0 this season. An upset win from Peterkin will also avenge a 15-5 loss to Donahoe this season at the Virginia Duals.

Penn’s three pigtail consolation bouts saw Cesar Grajales advance with a 10-5 win over Bloomsburg’s George Hickman. Grajales was aggressive in the first, taking Hickman down and adding two backs for a 4-1 lead after one. In the second, after a Hickman escape, Grajales again took him down. Cesar added a third takedown late in the period for an 8-3 lead after two. In the third, Cesar escaped from a Hickman takedown and added riding time for the win. Cesar will wrestle Northern Colorado’s Mitchell Polkowske in the next round.

Matt Dragon had a spirited contest with Ohio State’s Jason Johnstone, but came out on the losing end of an 11-8 decision. Dragon had a 7-5 lead with riding time in the third period, but Johnstone rallied with an escape and then a five-point move, taking Dragon down and then adding three backs. Dragon is eliminated.

Trey McLean’s Penn career came to a conclusion with a 3-1 loss to Cornell’s Zach Hammond. The match was slow to develop, with neither man scoring until the third period when Hammond escaped. He then countered a McLean shot to a takedown with :46 seconds left. McLean escaped, but could not close the gap.

Scott Giffin is up soon at 174, then we will head to wrestlebacks for Grajales and Rick Rappo.

3:51 p.m. - Checkingas it pertains to my predections, I am relatively pleased with my performance sofar.My prediction of Mack Lewnes to win is shot, and I lost two other finalists in Alex Tsirtsis at 141 and Bubba Jenkins at 149. Other than that, I am stillalive. To be fair, 11 of the 14 media members polled by USA Wrestling (i.e. those who actually know what they are talking about) picked Lewnes to win so I am still happy with my pick. If you are interested, here are the media's picks from TheMat.com.

2:43 p.m. – The first session is over here in St. Louis and the arena is missing about 15,000 people who watched an exciting first session. Penn has advanced two wrestlers to the second round - #8 Rollie Peterkin at 125 and Scott Giffin at 174. Penn is in 31st place overall as a team, with 5.5 points.

Looking ahead to the second round, Peterkin will wrestle the #9 seed, Tyler Clark of Iowa State. Clark defeated Navy’s Prescott Garner, 19-4 in the first round.

Clark is a sophomore who is ranked No. 8 in the country by InterMat. He is 22-9 this season, with a win over defending national champion Angel Escobedo. He finished second at the Midlands Championships. The two have five common opponents from the season. Peterkin is 4-2 against those wrestlers while Clark is 4-1. Both men’s losses have come at the hands of Troy Nickerson.

There is a large contingent of ISU fans in attendance here, and they are excited about the Cyclones’ performance so far – ISU is in first place after session one. On the other hand, the Iowa fans outnumber the ISU contingent, so Peterkin may be the beneficiary of some Iowa support in the match.

Scott Giffin, fresh off his first win at an NCAA Championships, will wrestle the #7 seed, Mike Miller of Central Michigan. Miller was a 7-5 winner in his first-round match.

Miller is ranked eighth in the country and is a two-time MAC champion. Miller was an All-American in 2007, finishing in eighth place.

Giffin and Miller have six common opponents from 2008-09. Giffin is 4-3 against those wrestlers while Miller is 5-1.

Taking a look at the wrestlebacks, Rick Rappo will wait until Cody Cleveland (Chattanooga) and Cody Fish (Boise State) wrestle a pigtail bout to find out who he wrestles at 141 pounds.

Cesar Grajales will wrestle Bloomsburg’s George Hickman at 149. Matt Dragon will wrestle Ohio State’s Jason Johnstone at 157. The two met this season at the Cliff Keen Invitational, where Dragon took a 6-3 decision.

Looking at common opponents, Johnstone is 4-5 against them while Dragon is 4-3.

Trey McLean will wrestle cornell’s Zach Hammond in a wrestleback pigtail. The two have split a pair of matches this season, with McLean winning at the dual and Hammond scoring a fall at EIWAs.

1:55 p.m. – Scott Giffin is the second Quaker to advance to the second round, upsetting #10 seed Kurt Brenner of West Virginia, 6-3. Brenner scored the first points of the match with a takedown 1:35 into the bout. Giffin rallied back with an escape with 50 seconds left in the period. He added a takedown right at the buzzer for two. Very impressive work from Giffin there, working right to the whistle.

In the second period, Giffin rode tough for the first minute, before Brenner escaped at the 3:57 mark of the match to tie things up. In the third, starting from bottom, Giffin escaped with 1:36 to go to take the lead. He then worked hard for two, securing the deuce and the win with a takedown at the 6:45 mark of the bout.

He advances to wrestle #7 Mike Miller of Central Michigan tonight.

1:05 p.m. - Matt Dragon will wrestle Ohio State's Jason Johnstone in a wrestleback match.

1:00 p.m. - Biggestupset of the day so far comes at 165 where undefeated #1 seed Mack Lewnes of Cornell goes downat thehands of Ryan Patrovich of Hofstra, 5-3.

12:41 - #2 seed and returning NCAA finalist, Bubba Jenkins of Penn State, goes down at the hands of Lock Haven's Matthew Fittery, 11-6. Biggest upset of the day so far.

12:31 p.m. – Cesar Grajales was pinned by #3 seed Darrion Caldwell of N.C. State in 3:27. Caldwell had control most of the match, scoring three takedowns prior to the pin. Grajales will wrestle Bloomsburg’s George Hickman in wrestlebacks

12:09 p.m. – Rick Rappo went to a tiebreaker with the fifth seed at 141 pounds, Missouri’s Marcus Hoehn, before losing, 3-2. The two were scoreless after one period, despite many good scrambles. In the second, Hoehn escaped with 54 seconds left for his point. In the third, Rappo escaped with 35 seconds left in the match to tie things up. In sudden victory, Rappo was close on the edge with 20 seconds left, but out of bounds. Hoehn had a double in at the end of the period, but couldn’t lock it in. The first tiebreaker saw Hoehn score a reversal with one second left on the clock for his two points. Rappo started on bottom for the second tiebreaker and escaped with 22 ticks left. Rappo was close to winning with a takedown at the end, but time ran out. Rappo heads to the consolation bracket.

In other news, my pick to finish runner-up at 141 is out as Maryland’s Alex Krom upset #4 Alex Tsirtis of Iowa. In EIWA news, Seth Ciasulli upset #11 Cody Cleveland of Chattanooga by fall in a pigtail to advance.

11:48 - And my predection for 133 almost didn't survive the first round, but Daniel Dennis of Iowa defeats Christopher Notte of Oklahoma State, 5-4, on a stall point in the third period. My other pick for the final, Reece Humphrey of Ohio State, needed 12 seconds to win his match to advance via fall.

11:37 - For anyone who keeps tabs on the EIWA wrestlers as well as Penn grapplers, theEIWA has the biggest upset of the tournament so far, with Bucknell's David Marble defeating the #3 seed at 133 pounds, James Kennedy of Illinois, in sudden victory. In other EIWA news I can pick up so far, #2 Troy Nickerson of Cornell pinned Mike Watts of Michigan in the first round at 125.

11:33 a.m. – A flurry of activity for Penn at the start of the tournament with two pigtail matches and a first round contest.

Rollie Peterkin put on a clinic at 125 pounds, defeating Michigan State’s Eric Olanowski, 21-1. Rollie, the eighth seed in the bracket, will wrestle ninth-seeded Tyler Clark of Iowa State tonight. Peterkin scored early and often, holding an 8-0 lead after the first period thanks to a takedown and two three-point nearfalls. Peterkin reversed to start the second, and after an Olanowski escape, scored another two and added three backpoints for a 15-1 lead after two. A takedown early in the third locked up the tech fall, and three more backpoints iced the match. Peterkin was close to a pin, but couldn’t lock the shoulders down.

Matt Dragon held tough with #8 seed Adam Hall of Boise State in a pigtail bout at 157, but couldn’t pull off the upset, losing, 8-5. Hall had an early takedown, but Dragon evened the bout with a reversal with 1:25 left in the first. Hall upped his lead with an escape and a takedown late in the period to lead 5-2 after one. In the second, Hall escaped quickly for a 6-2 lead. Dragon closed the gap, taking Hall down for two points. In the third, Dragon got within one after escaping to start the period. A Hall takedown with 1:07 left iced the match.

Trey McLean lost his pigtail match to Nathan Everhart of Indiana, 11-5. McLean had a 4-2 lead after the first period, looking very aggressive. The second period was a different story, with Everhart controlling on top the whole time. McLean was twice called for stalling, awarding a point to Everhart. The Hoosier added two backpoints at the end of the period for a 5-4 lead entering the final period. In the third, Everhart continued to control, escaping and then taking McLean down. Trey got out for a point, but a late takedown from Everhart and riding time decided the bout.

Both Dragon and McLean head to wrestlebacks. Their opponents will be determined later.

9:20 a.m. – While the teams are going through skin check and weigh-ins followed by a warm-up, now is a good time for one man’s relatively uneducated guess as to what could shake out.

125 – Two former national champions are in the field in #1 seed Paul Donahoe of Edinboro and #3 Angel Escobedo of Indiana. Added to the mix is the two-seed, Cornell’s Troy Nickerson. Two wins from Rollie Peterkin will earn him a quarterfinal date with Donahoe, who defeated Rollie earlier this season. Peterkin has been close with Nickerson in two tough losses this year as well. I think it is fair to say that Peterkin has a tremendous shot at being an All-american and his style could cause some trouble along the way for higher-seeded wrestlers. PREDICTION: Donahoe over Nickerson, Peterkin finishes as an All-American.

133 – Five All-American’s from 2008 return to this weight, but not the defending champion who graduated. The #1 seed, Michigan State’s Franklin Gomez finished third last year. He will be challenged by fellow Big Ten grappler, Reece Humphrey of Ohio State who is the two seed. Watch out for Joe Baker of Navy, the sixth seed. He finished eighth last year and is 14-0 this season. PREDICTION: The #4 seed, Daniel Dennis of Iowa upsets Gomez in the semis and goes on to defeat Humphrey in the final.

141 – Michigan’s Kellen Russell is the #1 seed, but he has to hope he doesn’t run into Penn’s Rick Rappo who pinned him earlier this season for one of his two losses. Wisconsin’s Zach Tanelli is the #2 seed. Last year’s champ, J. Jaggers of Ohio State is lurking as the #3 seed. Rappo has drawn the #5 seed, Big 12 champ Marcus Hoehn of Missouri. An interesting seed is Corey Jantzen of Harvard, the #9 seed. He could cause trouble for Russell in the quarters. PREDICTION: Tanelli defeats Iowa’s Alex Tsirtis who is the #4 seed. Rappo has been wrestling really well as of late and will be a tough out. Look for him to pick up a win or two as he caps his collegiate career

149 – Defending champion Brent Metcalf of Iowa headlines the field at one of the tournament’s deepest and most exciting weights. He is undefeated at 33-0 this season. He is joined by four other wrestlers who were All-America last season. Included in that list are #2 seed Bubba Jenkins of Penn State and #3 seed Darrion Caldwell of N.C. State. Caldwell will wrestle Penn’s Cesar Grajales in the first round. There are fantastic opening round matches all over this weight and anything really could happen. PREDICTION: Metcalf runs the table and goes back-to-back, defeating Jenkins for the second season in a row. On the Penn front, Grajales has a shot to All-American, especially if he gets by Caldwell in the first round. Call me a homer, but I like the upset here.

157 – Another stacked weight, with five All-Americans returning, including Cornell’s Jordan Leen. The strength of this weight is shown in the fact that Leen is only the three seed. The top seed is Nebraska’s Jordan Burroughs, who finished third at 149 last season. Burroughs is 30-0 this season. The two seed is also undefeated, Michael Poeta of Illinois. Matt Dragon is unseeded and has a pigtail bout with #8 seed Adam Hall of Boise State. 2007 149-pound champ Gregor Gillespie of Edinboro is the #4 seed. PREDICTION: Burroughs also goes undefeated for the season, defeating Leen in the final. Dragon has a tough first round match, but if he gets by Hall he has a chance to reach the quarters. Round of 12 and All-American is not out of the question for Dragon in his third trip to the NCAAs.

165 – Cornell’s Mack Lewnes is 35-0 and the #1 seed. He finished fourth last year and is aiming higher. In total, five former AAs are in the field. The #2 seed is freshman Andrew Howe of Wisconsin. Iowa’s Ryan Morningstar is the three seed. PREDICTION: Lewnes has been on a mission all season. He is close to an undefeated season and won’t let it elude him. He takes down Howe in the final.

174 – Another weight, another undefeated #1 seed. Steve Luke of Michigan is hoping to improve on last year’s second=place finish. In all, five of last year’s AAs are back, six if you include Michael Cannon of American who did so at 165. He is 30-0 this season and the EIWA champion. A couple lower-seeded wrestlers to watch are #6 Steve Anceravage of Cornell and #12 Alton Lucas of Hofstra. Penn’s Scott Giffin has #10 Kurt Brenner of West Virginia in the first round. PREDICTION: In a bout between unbeatens, Luke defeats Cannon. Giffin pulls the upset in the first round and makes noise, announcing his presence on the national scene.

184 – Defending champion Mike Pucillo of Ohio State is the #3 seed here, falling in line behind #1 Jake Herbert of Northwestern and #2 Phillip Keddy of Iowa. Herbert is 29-0 and won the 2007 title at this weight before sitting put last year to train for the Olympics. The EIWA has two seeds in #8 David Craig of Lehigh and #11 Louis Caputo of Harvard. Craig could be destined for a quarterfinal date with Herbert. PREDICTION: In the match everyone has wanted to see all year, Herbert defeats Pucillo.

197 – Four former All-Americans highlight this field, with 2008 fourth-place finisher Craig Brester of Nebraska holding the top seed. He will be challenged by Jake Varner of Iowa State, the two seed who finished second at 184 last year. Watch out for Tyrell Todd of Michigan, the #4 seed. This is a weight where lower-seeded guys could reach the finals, and I expect that to happen. PREDICTION: Todd defeats #6 Max Askren of Missouri.

285 – This is a wide-open weight with only three of last year’s AAs back. Iowa State’s David Zabriskie is the top seed, joined by fellower AAs Jared Rosholt of Oklahoma State (#4 seed) and Kyle Massey of Wisconsin (#8 seed). The #3 seed, Jermail Porter of Kent State is dangerous as well. Penn’s Trey McLean drew Indiana’s Nathan Everhart in a pigtail bout. McLean is capable of defeating anyone he wrestles, and should have his top game in his final tournament. PREDICTION: Porter comes out from the three seed to win, defeating Rosholt in the final. McLean will make the most of his final weekend as a collegian, wrestling his way to the second round, where anything can happen.

Team title: It will be tough to take down Iowa this weekend, but Cornell and Iowa State are right there with the Hawkeyes. Bonus points could be the determining factor, and the Big Red can be pin-happy at times. At the end of the day, Iowa goes back-to-back for its 22nd national title.