This Week The Quakers hit the mats for the 42nd Midlands Championships hosted by Northwestern University. Over 60 teams will be represented in this year’s tournament, including 2003 defending champion Illinois. Coverage for the event can be accessed at www.intermatwrestle.com.
No. 21 Penn at Midlands The Red and Blue have had solid success at the Midlands over the past seven years with top-25 team rankings and many individual placewinners. The Quakers finished 12th last season with four top-10 finishers. Senior Matt Feast, who placed fifth, is the only returning placewinner. Matt Herrington took fifth at 174, Matt Valenti took sixth at 125 and Paul Velekei placed eighth at 184. Eight other members of the Penn squad also saw action at the 2003 Midlands: Doug McGraw, who was seeded fifth at 141, Marcus Schontube, seeded ninth at 197, Mike Silengo, Shawn Protz, Adam Cooney, Rob Hitschler, Kyle Bernholz and Rich Ferguson. As a team, Penn placed 23rd in 2002 and finished fifth in 2001. The Quakers highest finish is fourth place reached in 1999. The Red and Blue also boast two champions in Andre Rodzianko (1998) and Yoshi Nakamura (2001).
Penn in the Pre-seeds The Quakers have three grapplers pre-seeded in the Midlands Championships Top-100. Matt Feast is the top pre-seed at heavyweight, Marcus Schontube is fifth at 197 and Doug McGraw is seventh at 141.
Next Up The Red and Blue will begin the dual meet portion of their schedule on Jan. 5 as they travel to Lowell, Ind. to face Purdue. It will be a homecoming for senior Marcus Schontube as the teams will wrestle in his high school gymnasium. Penn continues its Midwest swing on Jan. 7 when it faces No. 14 Central Michigan.
Closing in on 100 Senior Matt Feast is sitting on 99 career victories and is just one victory shy of 100. Feast’s quest for his 100th victory and third-straight tournament title was quashed at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational as he fell to fourth-ranked Greg Wagner of Michigan, 8-5, in the championship bout. With his next victory, the Cressona, Pa. native will become one of just five wrestlers to have at least 100 decisions in their Penn careers - Brett Matter (128), Yoshi Nakamura (115), Brandon Slay (110) and Rick Springman (109).
Viva Las Vegas The Quakers were last in action on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 at the 23rd Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational. The Red and Blue, in its first-ever appearance in the tournament finished tied for13th out of 46 teams from around the nation. Senior grappler Matt Feast placed second at heavyweight while fellow senior Marcus Schontube placed sixth at 197. In the heavyweight championship bout, Feast, the top-seed in the tournament, lost his first match of the season to Michigan’s Greg Wagner, 8-5. Sophomore Brock Wittmeyer (157) had a solid weekend at the tournament, after falling in the first round, he wrestled back winning four matches in row before fallin to sixth-seed Brian Stith of Arizona State, 9-4. Junior Dustin Wiles, the seventh-seed at 174, also had a good weekend picking up several victories.
Meanwhile at the Nittany Lion Open Penn also had several grapplers turn in several strong performances at the Nittany Lion Open on Dec. 5. Junior Mike Silengo captured the 125 crown with his victory over teammate Andrew Gold. Rookie Jack Kitchen made his collegiate debut with a sixth place finish at 174, while Adam Cooney also placed sixth at 285.
Another Milestone - Head Coach Roger Reina, the winningest coach in program history, is just four dual wins shy of reaching the 200 mark for his career.
Roger Reins Supreme - Head Coach Roger Reina begins his 19th season at the helm of the University of Pennsylvania wrestling program in 2004-05. After serving for two years as an assistant coach under Larry Lauchle, Reina was named head coach in 1986, making him the youngest Division I head coach in the nation at the time. Since taking over the reigns, Reina has elevated the program into one of the most consistently successful in the country. Under Reina’s tutelage, the program has achieved unprecedented success on both a regional and national level. Reina’s teams have consistently produced nationally-ranked results and individuals who have achieved national success. The Quakers have also established multiple institutional, Ivy League and Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) records. In developing Penn into a nationally-recognized program, Reina has brought a resurgence to Penn wrestling on all fronts, including recruiting multiple nationally-ranked recruiting classes, overall development of Penn wrestlers in both collegiate and international styles, highly successful fundraising efforts and a commitment to national and international success. The numbers speak for themselves. Reina’s guidance has produced 14 winning seasons in the past 18 years. Reina has held the head coach position longer than any other in program history and his 196 wins is more than double of any of his predecessors. His teams have continually set school records, including most team and individual wins in a season.