NCAA Wrestling Championships features six Penn grapplers

The NCAA released its brackets for the 2011 Wrestling Championships, which will be held March 17-19 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, and six grapplers will be representing the Red and Blue.

Junior Mark Rappo (125 pounds) is the lone of the six — a group including him, brothers Micah and Gabe Burak, Scott Giffin, Rollie Peterkin, and Zack Kemmerer — to be making his first appearance at the NCAAs, but he and Kemmerer (who went 0-2 in his NCAA run a year ago) have emerged as two of the steadiest wrestlers on the team and could make some noise. Kemmerer (141) led the team with 31 wins and is currently ranked 13th in the nation in his weightclass.

Micah (197), a sophomore, and his senior brother Gabe (165) will each be making their second trip to NCAAs and will hope to put together extended runs in the tourney (they both had quick exits a year ago, going 1-2 and 0-2, respectively). Micah was already prepared to compete at the collegiate level as a freshman last year, and he has only gotten better this year. He currently sits ranked 9th in the nation at 197 and went 26-6 during the season (23-10 in 2009-10). Gabe meanwhile went 20-6 on the year.

For seniors Gabe, Giffin (174) and Peterkin (133), this will be the last shot at a national title. Some may have questioned whether Peterkin would be able to round back into form after taking a year off last year and moving up a weightclass, but Rollie has been a stud for the Quakers, boasting a 26-5 record. Giffin, meanwhile, looked poised to have a great year coming off his All-American honors a year ago, but injuries bogged him down to the point that he actually considered quitting. Still, he managed to secure an at-large bid thanks to his 19-10 record and perhaps the respect/reputation he has gained — he was a three-time qualifier heading into this year.

10 thoughts on “NCAA Wrestling Championships features six Penn grapplers

  1. I found out that the championships in Philadelphia are being "co-hosted" by
    Rider University and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

    I am slightly curious why Penn is not playing a larger part (if at all) in the event
    being held in its own backyard.

    Perhaps Kevin "Emilio" Esteves could research further?


  2. FOJL,
    I emailed Chas Dorman, who deals with the wrestling team as one of Penn's Athletic Communications staff, and he provided me with some helpful info.

    You are correct that Rider and MAAC are hosting the Wrestling Championships. Teams and conferences put in bids to the NCAA well in advance (a few years) and a selection is made well ahead of time as well. Importantly, an institution's proximity to the event isn't necessarily a huge deal when the NCAA makes its decision: in fact, Rider and the MAAC hosted the 2002 Wrestling Championships which were in Albany.

    As to Penn's level of involvement, there are some Penn alums and affiliated personnel working behind the scenes. Mr. Dorman informed me that there is a Local Organizing Committee which helps plan this year's event in Philadelphia, and included among that committee are former Penn head coach Roger Reina (who is the chairman of the LOC), current coach Rob Eiter, and Gary Baker, who is the president of Penn's Grapplers Club — made up of alums.

    Also, former Penn wrestler and current assistant coach Matt Valenti will participate in a Beat the Streets Philadelphia clinic (two-time All-American and former Red and Blue grappler Brandon Slay will also participate) — I've included the link to that below. The exec director of this Philly initiative, Chris Hanlon, is also a Penn alum.

    Hope that helps.

  3. Kevin -

    I'm not 100% sure, but I think FOJL was referring to the marketing opportunity for Penn in being seen as a co-host. That alums are participating in events, and for that matter 6 Penn wrestlers are entered, is great but not really the point.

    A favor, please. Would you invite Michael Gold to join you and weigh in on the marketing aspect of this opportunity, as he did re the event when Jerome Allen as head coach was staged. Thanks in advance.


  4. I'm afraid Michael is chin-deep in his thesis writing so I'm not sure if he'll have time to chime in on the matter. But I may be wrong...

  5. Silcox -

    First your "Ernie- I'm sure Kotloff will answer, but my two cents about both of your points" and in fact none to date in his "All Ivy Hoops Selection" and now on behalf of Kevin and Michael. Thanks for interceding in both posts. Open questions in both posts, and your answers to them - not to mention Kevin and Brian's - would be most welcome.


  6. Ernie,
    I cannot speak for Michael, but I'm pretty sure he would agree that hosting the wrestling championships which are in Philly would be a great marketing opportunity for the program – I actually saw a sign in the Philly airport that said something like "Welcome NCAA Championship Wrestlers," so it's definitely a big deal. Having wrestlers and wrestling fans from all over come to a championship venue and see Penn's name alongside it would no doubt signal to others that Penn is serious about wrestling.

    With that said, my intuition is that Penn probably made a bid for these championships a few years back, but was not ultimately selected. If that's the case, then sure, it's a missed opportunity, but the NCAA ultimately decides who the host school is and so, Penn has to live with that decision. I could be wrong about this – my only reasoning is Why wouldn't Penn submit a bid for these championships if, as FOJL notes, the tourney is in Penn's backyard — but I am currently waiting for word as to whether or not Penn submitted a bid. I will update accordingly.

  7. I have been told that Penn actually did not bid for these championships and the implication I got was that when bidding time rolled around, it wasn't the right time for Penn to go after this tourney. Penn has been relatively active recently, hosting both the men's and women's lacrosse championships in recent years, but this one was not something for which they bidded. I imagine financials play a role, but obviously hosting any tournament would be helpful for a program — it seems like it just didn't make sense for Penn at the time to pursue this specific tourney.

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