Loyola Academy '97 Northbrook, Ill. At the NCAA Wrestling Championships on the weekend of March 18-20, the Quakers finished 11th in the nation, which bested last year's 27th-place finish and is Penn's best result since finishing eighth in 1942. On the strength of three All-American performances -- a Penn record -- by Brett Matter (149 lbs.), Andrei Rodzianko (197 lbs.) and Bandele Adeniyi-Bada (285 lbs.), the Quakers totaled 45.5 team points, just one behind 10th-place Boise State. The Quakers stood in 10th place for much of the tournament but Kirk White's championship victory at 165 lbs. dropped the Quakers back to 11th and pushed the Broncos to 10th. "The whole team wrestled well out here," Rodzianko said. "We were ready, we were well-trained and we really showed it." In addition to the three All-Americans, Mark Piotrowsky (141 lbs.) -- who battled through knee injuries -- and Rick Springman (165 lbs.) both were knocked out of the competition just one round short of placing in the top eight. Matter tore through his first three foes, pinning one and beating the other two by a combined 12-1. But in the semifinals he ran into top-seeded T.J. Williams of Iowa, the eventual NCAA champion. After a scoreless first period that saw Williams draw a stalling warning, the Iowa sophomore opened up, getting two takedowns in the second period en route to a 7-2 victory. "Once Williams got the first takedown, then he was able to sit back and counterattack," Penn coach Roger Reina said. The loss dropped Matter into the consolation bracket, where he lost a tight 3-1 match to No. 2 seed Reggie Wright of Oklahoma State. "I thought Brett controlled the match," Reina said. "[Wright] was completely defensive and should have been hit with stalling points." In the fifth-place match, Matter beat Lehigh's Ryan Bernholz, 5-3. Although Matter came into State College seeded No. 5, he was not satisfied with the fifth-place finish. "I'm happy to be an All-American, I suppose," Matter said. "But I didn't come here just to be an All-American. I came here to win." Adeniyi-Bada stumbled out of the blocks at heavyweight, losing a second-round match 2-1 to Slippery Rock's Derek Delporto on a stalling call. He wrestled back to the placing rounds, however, meeting nemesis Bronson Lingamfelter of Brown. Lingamfelter had pinned Adeniyi-Bada in the EIWA semifinals after Adeniyi-Bada controlled the match for almost three periods. But there would be no mistakes for Adeniyi-Bada this time around as he grabbed a convincing 14-6 decision. "It was nice to let him know he only got a fluke and if he wants to go anywhere, he has to go through me" Adeniyi-Bada said. "I just have to keep on spanking him." On March 18, he suffered a hip injury in his match against Oregon State's Mat Orndorff, the No. 4 seed. He competed through the pain, though, and lost 6-2 to set up a rematch with Delporto in the seventh-place match. The second time was a charm for Adeniyi-Bada, who won, 3-2. "We had [Delporto] scouted well out of that match and Bandele took advantage of it," Reina said. "We thought he could score on a double-leg and that's exactly what he scored on." Rodzianko came into the tournament seeded second but two losses to No. 5 seed Nick Muzashvili of Michigan State left Rodzianko in fourth place. After being knocked into the consolation bracket by a 5-4 loss to Muzashvili, Rodzianko faced stiff opposition on his way to the third-place match. The Penn tri-captain needed overtime to beat sixth-seeded Sam Neider of Northwestern, 3-1. He then pinned fifth-seeded Chris Vike of Central Michigan in the third period of a wild match. Rodzianko went up 2-0 on an early takedown and added three back points to take a 5-0 lead. But with 30 seconds left in the second period, Vike came up with three back points of his own, narrowing the gap to 5-3. In the third period, Rodzianko regained his edge, took Vike down and pinned him at 5:28. "I though he had taken [Vike] out of the match but he came roaring back," Reina said. In the rematch with Muzashvili for third place, the Michigan Stater outlasted Rodzianko 3-1. "Andrei had some scrambles that he had an opportunity to score on," Reina said. "But Muzashvili capitalized at the buzzer." The Quakers continued their upwardly mobile trend in the national wrestling scene and, with six of eight qualifiers returning next year, view this year's tournament as a stepping stone for greater things to come. While Rodzianko and Piotrowsky are graduating, Penn returns qualifiers Justin Bravo (125 lbs.), Jason Nagle (133 lbs.), Yoshi Nakamura (157 lbs.), Matter, Springman and Adeniyi-Bada.Comments powered by Disqus
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