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Paul Donahoe (Edinboro) def. Rollie Peterekin during round 3 of the 2009 NCAA Championships in St Louis, Missouri. Credit: Andrew Gardner

At a time when many are making resolutions to lose weight, Penn wrestler Rollie Peterkin is carrying his extra pounds just fine. The senior who moved up from 125 pounds this year to the 133-pound weightclass has shown the country that come the postseason, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

Competing at “one of the most competitive meets of the year,” according to coach Rob Eiter, Peterkin rattled off five straight wins to capture the 133-pound title at the Dec. 29-30 Southern Scuffle in Greensboro, N.C. The win moved him up to No. 4 in Intermat’s collegiate rankings.

“There were some points when it didn’t look so good that I just gritted my teeth and scored the points,” Peterkin said. “It’s a long tournament, so you just need to take it one match at a time and make it to the finals.”

Peterkin used a takedown in the final seconds of his semifinals match to score a win against Old Dominion’s Kyle Hutter. In the finals, Peterkin met three-time Colonial Athletic Association champion and No. 1 Lou Ruggirello of Hofstra and used a throw in the final period to score a 6-0 win.

The team, carried by Peterkin’s success, finishing eighth in the 34-team field and recording two other medalists. Senior Zack Kemmerer also used a breakthrough performance at the Scuffle to move up to No. 13. Although Kemmerer lost a chance at the championship in the quarterfinals, he bounced back with wins against Bloomsburg’s Derek Shingara and Virginia’s Augustus Sako.

After one last win in a medal match against No. 11 Michael Mangrum of Oregon State, Kemmerer finished the tournament fifth overall.

Sophomore Micah Burak, meanwhile, defeated No. 1 Dustin Kilgore in the consolation semifinals, bouncing back from an early-round loss.

After ending the year with the Southern Scuffle, the Quakers had just one other meet, playing host to Bloomsburg on Sunday in their first home dual meet this season. The Red and Blue came up painfully short, 25-23.

The deciding match was scoreless for the first 4:58 before Penn freshman Kyle Cowan scored an escape at the second period buzzer. Cowan fought to escape a hold by Zac Walsh but was unable to overcome his opponent’s riding time advantage. The extra points gave the Bloomsburg redshirt junior a 3-2 decision and ensured the Huskies’ win.

“It was certainly disappointing because we should have beat them,” Micah Burak said. “One thing that was hard was our 174-pounder Scott Giffin was hurt and it hurt our team. We just need to have a little more fight out there.”

Penn opened up a 14-point lead on the backs of major decisions by No. 19 Mark Rappo and Peterkin and a pin by Kemmerer (coincidentally, against Shingara).

Senior Gabriel Burak scored a technical fall of his own in 4:54 to put Penn up 20-10, before the Huskies responded with twelve straight points. At 197, Micah Burak temporarily restored Penn’s lead by going after Bloomsburg’s Richard Perry en route to a 7-0 win.

In the end, though, the younger Burak’s victory would not be enough given Cowan’s eventual, narrow loss. Penn now sits at 3-3 in duals, with meets against Virginia and VMI up next week.

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