Wrestling Primed for Nittany Lion Open

Results Updates (Beginning on Sunday)

PHILADELPHIA - The Penn wrestling team is staying in-state this weekend for a tournament, heading to the Nittany Lion Open hosted by Penn State in State College on Sunday.

The Quakers are set to compete with some of the best teams in the country on Sunday, with No. 5 Penn State, No. 10 Central Michigan, No. 15 Lehigh, No. 18 Pittsburgh, No. 19 Virginia Tech, No. 23 Hofstra, and No. 25 Maryland ranked teams scheduled to send wrestlers to the tournament.

This marks the second year in a row Penn has travelled to the Nittany Lion Open, and the Red and Blue will be looking to take home an individual title for the second consecutive trip. Last year, Bryan Ortenzio won five matches en route to the title at 133 pounds - a dominant run including two falls, a tech fall and a major decision.

While Ortenzio will not be there to defend his title this weekend, No. 20 Zack Kemmerer is back at 141 pounds with a chance to improve upon his runner-up finish last year. His weightclass could feature four other ranked wrestlers, including No. 7 Tyler Nauman (Pitt), No. 12 Andrew Alton (Penn State), No. 14 Nick Nelson (Virginia) and No. 18 Matt Bonson (Lock Haven). Kemmerer defeated Nelson last year in his run to the final, and has already met Nauman once this season, a 4-2 loss last weekend at the Northeast Duals.

Another Penn wrestler who put together a deep run at the Nittany Lion Open last year was Scott Giffin at 174 pounds. He finished third after advancing to the semifinals, and is positioned for a similar run through a deep weightclass this year. No. 2 Chris Henrich from Virginia is likely the favorite at the weight class and is the defending champion. Maryland's Mike Letts is currently ranked No. 8 - one spot ahead of Giffin - and is showing signs of returning to form after a knee injury last year. Penn State has a freshman making noise in No. 14 Ed Ruth while No. 17 Austin Mays (Lehigh) and No. 18 Ethan Headlee (Pitt) are other ranked wrestlers slated to line the field at 174.

At 125 pounds, Mark Rappo is quietly putting together a solid start to the 2010-11 season. He is 11-4 and looking to break through to the Top 20. Last season, he advanced to the quarterfinals at the Nittany Lion Open before losing to the eventual champion. Old Dominion's James Nicholson is ranked No. 7 in the country and is the highest-ranked wrestler on a team slated to compete this weekend. Penn State has a freshman ranked No. 18 in Frank Martellotti while Virginia's No. 20 Matt Snyder is the other ranked wrestler in the probable field.

One Penn wrestler set to traverse his way through an absolute minefield of a bracket is freshman heavyweight Kyle Cowan. A look at the teams entered shows four squads with heavyweights in the Top 7 of this week's poll - including the three at the top of the chart. Lehigh's Zach Rey (No. 1), Pitt's Ryan Tomei (No. 2) and Rutgers' D.J. Russo (No. 3) are the consensus Top Three in the land with Penn State's Cameron Wade ranked No. 7. Cowan hung tight with Tomei last weekend, and could take the next step if faced with him again this weekend.

Penn's Probable Lineup for the Nittany Lion Open
125 - Mark Rappo (11-4)
133 - Geoffrey Bostany (2-2)
133 - Zack Ellis (2-4)
141 - No. 20 Zack Kemmerer (11-2)
149 - Andrew Lenzi (7-4)
157 - Brad Wukie (4-3)
174 - No. 9 Scott Giffin (5-2)
174 - Canaan Bethea (8-4)
184 - Harrison Cook (6-6)
197 - Steven Graziano (1-0)
285 - Kyle Cowan (7-4)