Wrestling Ready For Busy Weekend at The Palestra

No. 14 Penn vs. Brown/Delaware St./Drexel
Feb. 2, 2007 - 10 a.m.
The Palestra - Philadelphia, Pa.

No. 14 Penn vs. Harvard
Feb. 3, 2007 - 11 p.m.
The Palestra - Philadelphia, Pa.

Live Radio/Video: PennAthletics.com

Notes in PDF Format (includes line-ups, statistics and more)

No. 14 Penn has its work cut out for it this weekend with no fewer than four home matches in a 24-hour span at The Palestra. The Quakers host Brown, Delaware State and Drexel on Friday before welcoming a strong Harvard team on Saturday. Brown and Harvard will be the first Ivy and EIWA opponents Penn faces this season.

Projected Starters

125 Rollie Peterkin
133 #2 Matt Valenti
141 Brett McCurdy
149 Rick Rappo
157 #14 Matt Dragon
165 #17 Zack Shanaman
174 #9 Matt Herrington
184 #14 Lior Zamir
197 Jack Sullivan
285 Ben Reiter

Schedule of Events on Feb. 2

Time Mat A Mat B
10 a.m. Penn vs. Brown Delaware St. vs. Drexel
Noon Penn vs. Delaware St. Brown vs. Drexel
2 p.m. Drexel vs. Penn

Live Video
Live video of all of Penn’s home dual meets this season is being offered on the Penn Sports Network, PennAthletics.com’s exclusive multimedia network devoted to Quaker athletics. A 2007 winter and spring season pass is only $9.95 and includes all wrestling and men’s and women’s basketball, as well as select special events.

In The Rankings
The Quakers, ranked 14th in the nation as a team, also have individuals ranked in six of the 10 weight classes. Three grapplers — Matt Eveleth (17th at 125), Zack Shanaman (17th at 165) and Lior Zamir (13th at 184) broke into the rankings after outstanding performances in Las Vegas and have stayed there since. Meanwhile, Matt Valenti (2nd at 133), Matt Dragon (14th at 157) and Matt Herrington (9th at 174) have been familiar faces in the rankings throughout the season.

Scouting Brown
Brown is not an unfamiliar face at The Palestra this year, as the Bears comepted in the Keystone Classic in November, placing seventh. Only one of this weekend’s probable match-ups occurred at the Keystone — No. 17 Zack Shanaman and Bran Crudden (Shanaman won, 6-0, in the second round)

Scouting Drexel
The neighborhood rivals (and neighborhood may even be too general — their respective home arenas are only two blocks apart) face off for the third time in two seasons after Penn swept both duals last year. Ryan Hluschak, who is ranked 20th at 157 lbs., is the Dragons’ only ranked competitor. Drexel has also been strong at 125 lbs., where Steve Mytych is 21-5 overall and is 17-4 in dual meets this season.

Scouting Harvard
Like the Quakers, Harvard sports six nationally-ranked grapplers in its starting line-up. Several marquee match-ups are expected, but perhaps none more so than at 133 lbs., where No. 2 Matt Valenti is expected to face No. 13 Robbie Preston. The two did not meet in last year’s dual, but did face off in the EIWA final, where Valenti gutted out a 4-2 overtime victory to win the EIWA crown and go on to be the EIWA Wrestler of the Year and NCAA Champion. The 157-pound match should be intriguing as well, with two sophomores who won EIWA titles as freshmen, No. 10 Andrew Flanagan and No. 14 Matt Dragon. Dragon was the 149-pound champ last year while Flanagan rolled to the 157-pound title. The two have never met. Another match to watch will be at 184 lbs., where No. 14 Lior Zamir is expected to go against No. 13 Louis Caputo. The two met earlier this season at Las Vegas, with Caputo winning a 4-0 decision in the consolation quarterfinals.

Valenti Nears the Wins Record
Senior Matt Valenti is closing in on Penn’s all-time wins record. His gritty overtime win against Hofstra gave him 120 for his career. Valenti is now just eight victories short of the all-time program record of 128 held by Brett Matter. Teammate Matt Herrington has also broken onto the list - he’s 10th all-time with 85 wins.

Hofstra Rolls Over Penn
The Hofstra dual was one Quaker fans would like to forget — Penn managed just one win, by Matt Valenti at 133 lbs. (in a fifth overtime, no less) and the No. 6-ranked Pride racked up 31 points in all.

The 2007 National Duals
Penn turned in a 1-2 performance at National Duals, where it lost to then-No. 1 Missouri and then-No. 9 Central Michigan and beat West Virginia. The Quakers were making their first appearance at the Duals since 2004. Several individual efforts stood out — 125-pounder Matt Eveleth won all three of his matches, two of them by fall; Matt Dragon continued his winning ways at 157 with a trio of victories; and Rick Rappo scored a major upset at 141 with his win over No. 14 Eric Kruger of Central Michigan.

Three Champs at Millersville
Jeff Zannetti, Jack Sullivan and Trey McLean each won a title at the Shorty Hitchcock Open at Millersville University Jan. 5. Zannetti took the 165 title with a 5-0 record, while Sullivan came out on top of a pair of 3-2 decisions in his last two matches to win at 197. McLean, making his career debut with the Quakers, won the heavyweight bracket with a 3-0 record.

Rappo Wins at Wilkes
Rick Rappo earned his first career tournament title at the Wilkes Open on Dec. 27, running off three wins to claim the 141-pound championship. Rappo avenged an early-season loss to BU’s Carlo Farrandino, 13-7, in the final. Andrew Coles also placed at the tournament, coming in third at 165 lbs.

Wittmeyer Wins at Penn State
Senior Brock Wittmeyer captured the 165-lb. title at the Nittany Lion Open on Dec. 3. Wittmeyer put up a 6-0 record at the tournament, defeating Penn State’s Dave Rella, 4-1, in the final.

Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational
Penn turned in an outstanding third-place finish in Las Vegas, finishing with 100.5 team points, just behind Michigan’s 109. Missouri ran away with the competition, finishing with 157 points. Matt Valenti and Matt Herrington were each runners-up in their weight classes, while Matt Eveleth finished third at 125 lbs. Zack Shanaman finished fourth at 165 and Lior Zamir was the seventh-place finisher at 184.

The Northeast Duals
The Quakers split their four meets at the Northeast Duals, beating Binghamton and Bloomsburg while falling to No. 12 Central Michigan and No. 1 Minnesota. Individually, Matt Valenti and Matt Dragon wrestled well, both winning all of their matches. Dragon’s day was highlighted with his match with No. 6 CP Schlatter of Minnesota. Although Dragon won by injury default late in the third period, he had the match in hand with the score at 4-4 and riding time locked up. Matt Herrington also beat a ranked opponent, defeating No. 12 Gabe Dretsch of Minnesota with a 10-7 decision.

NWCA All-Star Classic
Senior Matt Valenti scored a 6-5 win over No. 5 Coleman Scott of Oklahoma State, while classmate Matt Herrington fell to No. 3 James Yonushonis of Penn State, 5-4, Nov. 20 at the NWCA All-Star Classic in Dallas. It was the first participation in the event for the pair, who were both All-Americans last season. Valenti took an early lead on Scott and secured the riding time advantage to negate two late takedowns by Scott. Herrington led for most of the match until Yonushonis tied it in the third and scored a takedown. Despite getting the riding time point, Herrington still turned up on the losing end.

The Keystone Classic
Penn crowned two champions and came in second in the team standings at the 2006 Keystone Classic. Despite being without five of its 10 starters for various reasons, the Quakers turned in a very strong showing. At 125, it was all Penn as senior Matt Eveleth beat freshman Rollie Peterkin in the final, while sophomore Matt Dragon rolled through the 157-lb. bracket to earn his first Keystone title. The Quakers turned in four second-place finishers, as well — Peterkin, Brock Wittmeyer (165), Colin Hitschler (184), and Jack Sullivan (197).

At the Michigan State Open
The Quakers turned in a successful performance at the Michigan State Open on Nov. 19, and senior Matt Herrington captured the title at 174 lbs. Herrington dominated the field, with two falls and two major decisions en route to a 5-2 decision in the final over Indiana’s Trevor Perry. All told, Penn grapplers won 64 bouts and won 11 places at the open. Matt Valenti was the second-place finisher at 133 lbs.; Rob Hitschler and Lior Zamir each took fourth; Cesar Grajales, Thomas Shovlin and Gene Zannetti grabbed fifth-place spots; and Colin Hitschler and Jack Sullivan each earned seventh-place showings. Zack Shanaman and Jeff Zannetti were set to wrestle for fifth place at 165 lbs., but the match was declared a double forfeit. Matt Dragon finished eighth at 157 lbs. No team standings were kept at the event.

Preseason EIWA Poll
Penn was selected third in the preseason EIWA coaches’ poll. Cornell was picked to win, with Lehigh second. Ivy League foes Columbia and Harvard were selected fourth and fifth, respectively, behind the Quakers.

Head Coach Zeke Jones
Zeke Jones begins his second season at the helm of Penn wrestling after a wildly successful freshman campaign. Jones led the Quakers to an 11-5 dual-meet record and a 12th-place finish at NCAA championships with a program-record 51 points, while coaching a national champion and another All-America. Jones was named the 2006 Rookie Coach of the Year by Amateur Wrestling News.

Welcoming... Rob Eiter
Rob Eiter begins his first season as an assistant coach with the Quakers after serving as an assistant at Big Ten power Northwestern for the past four seasons. Eiter is a two-time Olympian who brings a wealth of knowledge to Philadelphia. Last season, he helped the Wildcats to a 13th-place finish at NCAA’s with three All-Americas. Prior to his time in Evanston, Eiter was an assistant at Clarion, where he helped Sheldon Thomas win a national title and coached four-time All-America Bryan Stout. Eiter also coached the 1999 women’s world championship team. As a wrestler, Either was an Olympian in 1992 and 1996 and is a five-time U.S. Open national champion and two-time World Cup silver medalist.

The Captains
Matt Valenti and Rob Hitschler have been selected captains for the 2006-07 season.

City of Brotherly Love
For the second year in a row, Penn has three sets of brothers on its roster — Colin and Rob Hitschler, Andy and Matt Valenti and Jeff and Gene Zannetti. Penn has had 14 sets of brothers compete on the same roster throughout its history.

Quaker Notemeal
The Quakers have been nationally-ranked every week since Dec. 10, 2005 when it broke in at 22nd in the nation ... Penn has already faced two No. 1-ranked teams and five top-12 teams this season ... Penn has not beaten a ranked team since the 2003-04 season when it upset No. 3 Iowa State at the National Duals ... Penn’s meet with West Virginia at the National Duals was the first time Head Coach Zeke Jones had met his former school in competition. Jones was an assistant at WVU from 1998 to 2005 ... Matt Eveleth leads the team with six falls in 13 wins this year.

Next Time Out
Penn hits the road for two highly-anticipated EIWA and Ivy League duals next weekend, visitng No. 16 Cornell on Feb. 8 and No. 25 Columbia on Feb. 9.

Download: feb 2-3 notes.pdf