PHILADELPHIA, Pa. 2/11/12 – The University of Pennsylvania wrestling team went into the final match of the day needing a match win in the 285 pound class to get a team win over Columbia. Sophomore 285 pounder Steven Graziano went into the third period trailing 1 – 0, but got an escape and two takedowns to win his match and give his team a 19 – 18 win against the Columbia Lions on Senior Day at the Palestra.
“I live for that stuff, Graziano said. “The crowd going crazy. You’re just thinking I’m going to pull of this win, and win it for the team It doesn’t affect me in a negative way. I live for that situation right there.”
“I’ve been in that situation before. Once the other guy gets tired he gets sloppy. That’s when I really work out my technique.”
In his match against Kevin Lester, Graziano trailed 1 – 0. In the second period he was trying to get a takedown, but Lester was able to avoid it falling out-of-bounds. Graziano felt this was the turning point of the match, and momentum was going his way.
“I knew at that point it was a matter of time that I was going to take him down, said Graziano. “It gave me a boost of confidence. I knew it was just a matter of time.”
Penn needed a win at 197 as they fell behind 18 – 13. Tenth Ranked Junior Micah Burak got that win 9 – 3 over Nick Mills to put Graziano in position to be able to win the meet.
“I knew we had points coming with Micah (Burak),” said Penn Coach Rob Eiter.
The Red and Blue won 6 matches to 4 for Columbia. However, the Lions got three major decisions and the only pin of the match registered by Shane Hughes over Penn Senior Erich Smith. The extra points scored in the Columbia win mattered in the meet. However, the most significant win of the meet was at the 149 pound class. Penn Freshman Steve Robertson scored an upset 6 – 4 win over nationally ranked Steve Santos.
“Steven Robertson is a true freshman for us.” said Eiter. “He has been struggling the past couple of weeks. He is an emotional kid. We weighed in two guys at 149 to go against their kid who is nationally ranked. I made a match time decision with Steven. I know his potential, I know what he can do. He went after it. That was huge.”
Other individual wins by Penn wrestlers were by Senior Ryan Ortenzio, ranked 14th nationally at 133 (6 – 1), #12 Senior Zack Kemmerer at 141 with an 11 – 0 major decision, and Freshman Lorenzo Thomas at 165 (9 – 3). The Quakers even their record at 6 – 6 overall and 2 – 2 in the Ivy League. The Red and Blue travel to Bucknell and Princeton before moving on to the EIWA Championships.
Written By: Glenn Papazian
It was the final Palestra match for four Penn seniors who were honored before the game.
Zack Kemmerer registered his 107th win good for sixth place in school history. He is the eighth Penn wrestler to reach the 100-win plateau. Kemmerer has qualified for the NCAA Championships twice, and had twice been named All-Ivy, including a unanimous selection in 2011.
Bryan Ortenzio has recorded 23 wins this season, most by a Penn wrestler. In 2010 he qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Erich Smith, a transfer from Michigan, started every dual meet for Penn. He has been ranked as high as #31 this season.
Zack Ellis did not wrestle in the meet, but has wrestled in four different weight classes this season.
Their contributions to Penn wrestling go far beyond what they have done on the mat.
“They are what we recruit on.” said Eiter. “We present the Zack Kemmerer’s, the Ryan Ortenzio’s not only for what they do on the mat, for what they do in the classroom. They are 3.0 students or higher. They’re kind of the whole package. We have a proven track record with those guys.”