On Thursday morning at the Wells Fargo Center, six Penn wrestlers began their quests for an individual title at the NCAA Championship.
And ironically enough, it was some of Penn's least experienced of the core group who will be advancing to the second round later tonight.
In his first NCAA Tourney appearance, junior Mark Rappo started things off with a bang, upsetting Oklahoma State's Jon Morrison (seeded ninth), 8-4, in the 125-pound weightclass.
Meanwhile, senior Zack Kemmerer made his second Tournament appearance (he went 0-2 last year) and emerged with a narrow 7-5 victory against Maryland's Jon Kohler. Kemmerer will have a tough matchup in the second round later tonight when he faces Iowa's Montell Marion, who finished second at last year's NCAAs.
The Burak brothers, senior Gabe (165) and sophomore Micah (197), both look like they're going to put together longer NCAA runs than they did last year after winning their first round matches, 6-3 and 7-3, respectively. The duo went 1-4 at last year's tournament, which was their first taste of "March Matness."
The most experienced of Penn's representatives, seniors Rollie Peterkin (133) and Scott Giffin (174), each dropped his opening round match. The 10th-seeded Peterkin was upset by Utah Valley's Flint Ray, who scored a late three-point near fall to come out with the 7-5 win. Peterkin, who is a two-time NCAA Championship Qualifier as a 125-pounder, has been wrestling at 133 this year and will now move to the consolation bracket to face Edinboro's Eric Morrill.
Giffin, who became an All-American at last year's Tournament, just barely lost to Maryland's No.8 seed Mike Letts by a score of 4-2. Giffin also lost his first bout a year ago, but garnered All-American status by winning his next four matches. He will have the opportunity to put together another comeback run as he moves to the consolation bracket as well.
A updated recap on today's action to follow later.
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