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PHILADELPHIA - Penn's 2011-12 wrestling season gets underway on Sunday at the Binghamton Open. One of the stronger early-season fields, No. 14/25 (InterMat Tournament/NWCA Coaches Dual Rankings) Penn will jump right in against many EIWA and Ivy rivals to begin its season. While final entries aren't counted until teams roll in on Sunday morning, in the past the Quakers have grappled with Cornell, Princeton, Harvard and Columbia at the Binghamton Open. In addition to those annual rivals, acclaimed programs such as Old Dominion, American, Army and Lock Haven are usual entrants at the tournament.
In 2011, eventual All-American Zack Kemmerer began his stellar season with a title at the Binghamton Open at 141 pounds. He went 5-0 on the day, downing four EIWA competitors along the way for the championship.
Kemmerer enters the 2011-12 season ranked No. 4 in the country at 141 pounds, part of a quartet of seniors holding down the top four spots at that weight in the InterMat polls. In terms of a building block for his final campaign on the mat for the Quakers, Kemmerer laid a solid foundation down the homestretch of 2010-11. A unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection, he went on to finish third at the EIWA Championships for the second year in a row. Seeded 12th at the NCAA Championships, he went 4-3, with a win over No. 6 Andrew Alton of Penn State making Kemmerer Penn's 25th NCAA All-American. When the final whistle sounded on Kemmerer's season, he racked up 39 wins to just 10 losses. The 39 hand raisings set a new single-season Penn record and ranked him second among all NCAA Division I wrestlers at 141 lbs. and third among all NCAA Division I wrestlers at any weight.
To find Penn's next-highest ranked wrestler heading into the season, pollsters head to 197 pounds where junior Micah Burak enters 2011-12 with a No. 6 ranking. Burak is a two-time EIWA finalist and last year advanced to the Round of 12 at the NCAA Tournament before bowing out in overtime. 29-8 last season, Burak has advanced to the finals in six of nine tournaments he has entered in his two seasons at Penn.
This weekend will mark the return of Bryan Ortenzio to Penn's lineup. The senior sat out the 2010-11 season and is back to build on a 2009-10 campaign where he was a second-team All-Ivy wrestler and advanced to his first NCAA Championships. Despite the time away from the mat, Ortenzio will begin his final season with the Red and Blue ranked No. 16 at 133 pounds.
The final ranked wrestler to start the season is Mark Rappo at 125 pounds. He is ranked No. 10 by InterMat after a 28-10 season which saw him advance to the finals of the EIWA Championships and make his first NCAA Tournament appearance.
In terms of veteran depth and competition, Penn ha s 15 upperclassmen back for the 2011-12 season. Senior Erich Smith started the final stretch at 184 pounds last season, and went 1-2 at the EIWA Championships to narrowly miss out on placing. Junior Troy Hernandez missed the majority of last season with an injury and is back healthy this season. He is likely to push for the starting spot at 157. Ivy League Rookie of the Year Kyle Cowan leads a pair of sophomores at heavyweight. Cowan was eighth at EIWAs last year. He is joined by classmate Steven Graziano. The Syosset, N.Y. native was at 197 for most of last year, but went 2-0 in a pair of starts at heavyweight in Ivy duals. Geoffrey Bostany was 9-8 in his freshman season at 133 and 141, but is primed to drop down to 125 this season. Other upperclassmen who have their eye on mat time are senior Zack Ellis (141), juniors Harrison Cook (184) and Mike Steltenkamp (174), as well as sophomores Zach Agostino (165), Canaan Bethea (174), Andrew Lenzi (149), Jordan Michelson (149), Karim Shafi (125) and Brad Wukie (165).
Head Coach Rob Eiter and his staff brought in a stellar recruiting class to complement the veterans this season, with the nine-member Class of 2015 ranked No. 11 by InterMat and No. 12 by W.I.N. Magazine. The newcomers span up and down the lineup, including four wrestlers who were ranked in the Top-100 of all incoming recruits: No. 62 Steve Robertson (149), No. 67 Charlie Lynch (149), No. 73 C.J. Cobb (133/141) and No. 83 Jeff Canfora (133). In addition, Kyle Taylor (125), Mark Pinero (141), Lorenzo Thomas (165), Ian Korb (174-184) and Anthony DiLonardo (285) are itching to get their careers started for the Quakers.
There are plenty of ways to keep up on the Quakers this season, with all six home contests (including the Keystone Classic) broadcast online via the PennSportsNetwork. In addition to the live webcast, live stats will be found online via the NWCA website. When not at home in The Palestra, live updates will be posted via Twitter at @PennWrestling.
Penn's Probable Lineup for the Binghamton Open
125 - Geoffrey Bostany ,So.
133 - No. 16 Bryan Ortenzio, Sr.; Jeff Canfora, Fr.
141 - No. 4 Zack Kemmerer, Sr.; C.J. Cobb, Fr.; Zack Ellis, Sr.; Mark Pinero, Fr.
149 - Steve Robertson, Fr.; Jordan Michelson, So.
157 - Troy Hernandez, Jr.
165 - Lorenzo Thomas, Fr.; Zach Agostino, So.
174 - Ian Korb, Fr.; Mike Steltenkamp, Jr.
184 - Erich Smith, Sr.
197 - Open
285 - Steven Graziano, So.; Anthony DiLonardo, Fr.