After four exhausting years, Zack Kemmerer is finally an All-American.
Friday, the senior became the 25th Penn wrestler to earn All-America status and its first ever at 141 pounds with a 5-4 decision over sixth-seeded Andrew Alton from Penn State in the Round of 12 at the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
He finished the tournament — which concluded Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center — in eighth place, becoming the lone Penn grappler to crack the top eight. Sophomore Micah Burak and seniors Rollie Peterkin and Gabe Burak lost their Round of 12 matches to come up just one win shy of All-America status.
In his clinching win, Kemmerer scored a takedown in the first period, but two escapes by Alton knotted up the score. Kemmerer managed an escape of his own at the beginning of the third period and grabbed control of the match with a takedown.
He kept Alton at bay long enough, and guaranteed his place on the podium.
“I want to celebrate, I want to see my dad,” an emotional Kemmerer said after the historic victory. “I want to see the goddamn look on his face, just to say, ‘I told you so, that I was going to do it.’ That’s going to be the most rewarding part.”
Kemmerer’s run in this tournament has also propelled him to a new program record for wins in a single season, 39. The previous high was 36 wins, accomplished four times, including twice by current assistant coach Matt Valenti, a three-time All-American for Penn at 133 pounds.
“I’m excited for him,” Valenti said of Kemmerer. “Those records are there to be broken … It’s even better that he’s doing it in the fashion that he’s doing it.”
Kemmerer would go on to lose his next two matches, including a 5-2 defeat in the seventh-place match Saturday morning at the hands of Oklahoma’s Zack Bailey.
Meanwhile, seniors Peterkin and Burak wrestled their last collegiate matches Friday night.
Peterkin faced eleventh-seeded Scotti Sentes of Central Michigan at 133 pounds. The bout was reminiscent of 2009 when Sentes defeated Peterkin in the same round of 12, but at 125 pounds.
This time around, Sentes pinned Peterkin at 4:08 in the second period for the win.
“It breaks my heart to see him end his career that way,” said Valenti, who routinely squares off with Peterkin in practice. “He’s too good of a wrestler, too good of a person, not to be on that stand.”
Burak (165) dropped an 11-4 decision to Hofstra’s Paul Gillespie. A near fall and reversal by Gillespie gave the Pride junior an early lead, and Burak only managed to record four escapes.
Burak’s younger brother Micah drew Stanford’s No. 12 seed Zack Giesen in his Round of 12 matchup. The score remained knotted at 1-1 after the third period — repeated stoppages due to Giesen’s bloody nose disrupted the rhythm of the match — but the Cardinal senior recorded a decisive takedown in sudden victory to send Micah home packing.
“[I’m] a little upset, not because we didn’t win, but for the guys,” Eiter said. “They worked so hard this year and came so far.”
Sports Editors Brian Kotloff and Kevin Esteves contributed to the reporting of this article.Comments powered by Disqus
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