PHILADELPHIA - InterMat has released its NCAA Division I preseason team and individual wrestling rankings for the 2009-10 season, and once again Penn is well represented in the polls.
InterMat ranks the top 20 individual wrestlers in each weight class and the top 25 teams.
As a team, the Quakers are ranked 24th in the preseason poll. Penn is one of five Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) programs in the preseason rankings along with Cornell (4), American (16), Lehigh (19) and Harvard (22). Defending NCAA champion Iowa is Intermat's preseason favorite, followed by Iowa State and Ohio State.
"It's nice to be ranked, you always like the exposure of having your team's name in the rankings," said second-year head coach Rob Eiter. "It's nice that other people recognize our program in such a way. However, the guys are not satisfied with a preseason ranking; they are preparing to improve on that ranking, and also as individuals they are working hard to get better."
Individually, three Penn wrestlers are represented in their weight class.
The highest ranking belongs to senior Rollie Peterkin, who is sixth in the 125-pound weight class. Peterkin was the EIWA champion in 2008 and runner-up last year; he also just missed out on All-America status at last year's NCAA Championships and won his weight class at the prestigious Cliff Keen Invitational. Only one EIWA wrestler is ahead of Peterkin in the preseason rankings -- Cornell'sTroy Nickerson, who won last year's NCAA title.
Senior Cesar Grajales, another former EIWA champion, is the preseason No. 7 seed at 149 pounds (second among EIWA wrestlers). Last year, Grajales qualified for his third NCAA Championships and was a first-team All-Ivy selection. In addition to his EIWA winin 2008, Grajales was also named that meet's Outstanding Wrestler.
Senior Matt Dragon -- who won EIWA titles at 149 pounds in 2006 and 157 pounds in 2007 -- rounds out Penn's individual honorees; he is seeded 17th in the 157-pound weight class. Dragon is also a three-time NCAA qualifier, and last year he won individual titles at the Keystone Classic and the East Stroudsburg Open. The only EIWA wrestlers ranked ahead of Dragon are Harvard's J.P. O'Connor (4) and Navy's Bryce Saddoris (7).
"We have our two captains ranked in Cesar and Matt,"said Eiter. "Both of them are capable of All-America honors this year, and they both feel like this is their last shot. Physically and emotionally they have prepared, and they have had a great preseason. They are excited to finish out their career on the podium."
The Penn wrestlers will open up the 2009-10 season on Sunday, Nov. 15 when they compete at the Binghamton Open. One week later, the Quakers host the Keystone Classic at The Palestra.