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Strong effort for wrestlers at EIWA championships

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The wrestling team finished off its season with three fourth-place finishes in the consolation bracket at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships at Penn this past weekend. Many wrestlers lost their opening matches and fought their way back into contention in the wrestle-back bracket, including co-captain Matt Gevelinger ’09, who qualified for the NCAA National Championships, which will take place March 19 to 21 in St. Louis.

“Our expectation was to have as many place winners as possible,” Gevelinger said. “We all battled and had a lot of pride in what we were doing – we never quit.”

Gevelinger, the No. 6 seed at 184 pounds, received a first-round bye, but fell short in the second round, 11-3, to 3rd-seeded Justin Kerber of Cornell. He bounced back with three straight wins, wrestling back into the third-place match, where his day ended with a 10-2 loss to 2nd-seeded Ivy League foe Louis Caputo of Harvard.

Before the regional competition this week, each weight class had a predetermined number of spots in the NCAA championships. Gevelinger found himself in the elite group of four 184-pound wrestlers from the region who will make their way to the Gateway City in search of a national title. Gevelinger returns to nationals for the second year in a row and hopes to come away with more than his guaranteed two matches.

“I had the goal of going back – I’d been working for it all season,” Gevelinger said. “I have to be mentally prepared, and above all, believe in myself.”

Branden Stearns ’09, wrestling at 197 pounds, came out of nowhere to claim fourth place in the consolation bracket as an unranked wrestler. He lost his opening match, 7-5, to Army’s 1st-seeded Richard Starks, but stormed back and rattled off three wins of his own entering the third-place match. He lost a hard-fought final match, 5-3, to 8th-seeded Lou Miller of Columbia, and narrowly missed the cut for nationals, as only the top two finishers at 197 pounds moved on.

Stearns’ resilience came as no surprise to Gevelinger.

“The great thing about wrestling is that in this tournament, anything can happen,” Gevelinger said. “It all comes down to these matches.”

Seventh-seeded Greg Einfrank ’10, wrestling at 125 pounds, did not wrestle until the second round and came up short in his first match as 2nd-seeded Penn’s Rollie Peterkin recorded an 18-1 technical fall at the 6:28 mark. He won three consecutive matches in the wrestle-back bracket to reach the third-place match against 3rd-seeded Derek Reber of Bucknell. Einfrank could not finish off Reber, falling 6-2 and claiming fourth place. Einfrank fell one spot short of making his first trip to nationals, as the top three places proceed on in competition.

Both Stearns and Einfrank are hoping their names will be called when the NCAA announces 52 wildcard berths on Wednesday.

Bryan Tracy ’10 at 157 pounds and 6th-seeded Zach Zdrada ’09 at heavyweight both won their first match of the day, but could not stay in the winner’s bracket. Each wrestler lost their next match and finished the day 1-2.

Ross Baldwin ’09 (133 pounds), Stephen DeLorenzo ’10 (141 pounds), David Foxen ’11 (149 pounds) and Jeff Lemmer ’12 (165 pounds) all lost their opening matches and could not muster up another win to advance in the double-elimination tournament.

“We had trained all season for this one meet,” Gevelinger said. “I wish we could have placed five or six guys.”

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