What: #21 Hofstra University vs. The University of Pennsylvania
When: Saturday January 31st, 2009
Time: 1pm EST
Where: The Palestra (Philadelphia, PA)
The Matchup:Steve Bonanno (HU) vs. #12 Rollie Peterkin (UPenn)
Synopsis: Again, it was the true freshman from Wantagh that came up clutch for the Pride in a losing effort to Ohio State. Trailing 2-0 heading into the final two minutes, Bonanno showed that no lead is safe against him. Throughout the season, I have been amazed at how the 2008 NYS Champion seems to get better as the match goes deeper. With the win on Sunday, Bonanno improved his record to 23-9 overall (leads the team in wins) and 9-1 in duals. His lone dual loss came at the hands of top-10 wrestler, James Nicholson from ODU. Tomorrow, Bonanno will be pitted against an opponent of equal caliber to Nicholson in the person of Roger “Rollie” Peterkin. Peterkin, who defeated four year starter, Dave Tomasette, twice in 2007/2008 will enter the dual with an overall record of 14-3 including wins over the likes of Jarrod Garnett and Zach Sanders in claiming the title at the Cliff Keen Vegas Invitational. Despite the impressive resume the Pride true freshman has already compiled in his young career, it is the UPenn junior who has to be considered the favorite on paper. Fortunately for HU, Peterkin is not known as someone who is likely to earn bonus points against quality opponents. Hence, even if he should be successful in getting his hand raised, it likely will only cost the Pride three team points. If Bonanno can keep this bout close through two periods, look for him to kick it into that next gear (as he has done so many times before this season) and make a run at the upset.
Prediction: Peterkin Wins by Decision
Projected Team Score:3-0 UPenn
Result: Peterkin (UPenn) Dec Bonanno (HU), 4-2
The Matchup:#9 Lou Ruggirello (HU) vs. Bryan Ortenzio (UPenn)
Synopsis: Last season, these two young men met and it was Ruggirello who emerged with a rather unimpressive 3-2 decision. Ortenzio showed solid takedown defense in this meeting last season. Therefore, as is usually the case in a Ruggirello match, if Lou wants to go out and make a statement, he will in all likelihood need to do most of his damage from top. Something tells me that after being less than one minute away from upsetting the #2 ranked wrestler in the nation last Sunday, only to get cradled up and lose, Ruggirelllo is going to take the mat with a fire burning in his belly. The longer Ortenzio is able to stick around with the junior out of Valley Central, the more Coach Eiter is going to like his chances of keeping this bout to a regular decision. While upsets are possible, I feel that for Ruggirello, the question is not whether or not he will win, it is, will he be able to provide some cushion for the Pride in the way of a major decision and/or pin? Ruggirello, who despite the loss to Reece Humphrey, maintained his #9 national ranking, will come into the dual with an overall record of 19-3. Ortenzio will bring a rather impressive resume to the mat himself, having compiled a 17-9 record thus far in 2008/2009. However, unlike Ruggirello who is 9-1 in duals this season, the Quaker wrestler has managed only a 6-5 record in dual play in ’08/’09. In quickly reviewing his stats, Ortenzio did not appear to have a win over a top-20 opponent all season. I do not foresee him picking up his first win tomorrow against “the king.” If Ortenzio is able to repeat his performance from last season and keep this to only a three point decision, he will have done his job effectively.
Prediction: Ruggirello Wins by Major Decision
Projected Team Score:4-3 Hofstra
Result: Ruggirello (HU) Dec Ortenzio (UPenn), 5-0
The Matchup:Justin Accordino (HU) vs. Rick Rappo (UPenn)
Synopsis: Much like Ruggirello, the Pride freshman from Wilkes-Barre, PA came less than a minute from pulling a major upset on Sunday. However, he too had to settle for watching his opponent (Defending National Champion, J Jaggers) get his hand raised. While the loss was Accordino’s fourth in his last seven matches, I must admit that I have liked the way he has looked of late. In typical Jamar Billman, Rob Rohn, Nate Galloway fashion, Accordino seems to be getting in a groove when it comes to setting up his cement mixer. He hit it on Jaggers. Therefore, there is no reason to think that he couldn’t hit it on anyone. Working against him, is that his likely opponent, Rick Rappo, is also a product of the Keystone State. Therefore, it would foolish to think that Rappo is not well schooled on defending the big move. Rappo bring to the mat an 11-6 overall record, but has been very consistent in duals this season, going 6-3. Anyone who looks only at Rappo’s record may conclude that he is not a very dangerous opponent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Earlier this season, the senior Biology major shocked the wrestling world when he pinned Michigan’s Kellen Russell. Hence, neither man should blink against the other. While my heart tells me to give this bout to Accordino, I cannot help but feel that in the end, Rappo’s superior experience will be the difference in what I expect to be a down to the wire match.
Prediction: Rappo Wins By Decision
Projected Team Score:6-4 UPenn
Result: R. Rappo (UPenn) Dec Accordino (HU), 8-2
The Matchup:P.J. Gilespie (HU) vs. #9 Cesar Grajales (UPenn)
Synopsis: One of the few UPenn wrestlers to carry a national ranking, Cesar Grajales is no stranger to beating Pride opponents. In last season’s dual, Grajales was one of the few bright spots for the Quakers in a 25-11 loss. In that dual, Grajales dominated from every position possible, scoring a 23-8 technical fall over Jeff Rotella. So far this season, Grajales has been every bit as good as he was in 2007/2008. Entering the dual with an 18-5 overall record, Grajales has been damn near unbeatable in duals this season, going 10-1 on the year. He is a well developed wrestler from all three spots on the mat and should poise a very real challenge to RS frosh, P.J. Gillespie. The product of powerhouse, Brandon High School, Grajales placed sixth at the Keen Invitational with his only losses coming to opponents all currently or formerly ranked in the top-10 in the nation. While younger brother, Eric, has always been considered the super-stud in the family, make no mistake about it, Cesar is a very much the real deal and should be in the mix for All-American honors this March….Having lost six of his last seven bouts (including a 5-0 loss to #4 Lance Palmer last weekend), the talented freshman from Long Beach has seen his overall record fall to 16-13 (3-7 in duals). While Gillespie has continued to battle hard against ranked opponents, keeping final scores within respectable margins, he has yet to demonstrate that he is a threat to upset them. Unfortunately, I do not think Saturday will be the day that he gets the monkey off of his back. Expect for Grajales to score the first takedown of the bout and then use his strong riding skills to control/shorten the match…..Note: Rumor has it that Gillespie may be a no go for this weekend. If he is not in the lineup, the odds are in favor of seeing either Jeff Rotella or Fran O’Brien filling in. Without Gillespie, 149 could easily turn into match where UPenn is able to secure bonus points.
Prediction: Grajales Wins By Decision
Projected Team Score:9-4 UPenn
Result: Grajales (UPenn) Pinned Rotella (HU) 6:50
The Matchup:#17 Jon Bonilla-Bowman (HU) vs. #19 Matt Dragon (UPenn)
Synopsis: Hi ho silver, the masked man is back and he is better than ever. Since dropping a 15-3 MD to #1 ranked Gregor Gillespie in the semifinals of the Southern Scuffle, pride Junior, Jon Bonilla-Bowman has gone on a run, winning his last eight bouts, three of which came by way of major decision. Always considered a man whose gas tank knows no bottom, JBB has not only been sharp on offense, he has also showed some semblance of improved defense. While he does seem to have a habit of surrendering the opening takedown in matches, he has demonstrated an ability to remain close throughout matches, something he did not do a great job of last season. No longer forced to overcome huge third period deficits, the native of Pomona, NY is finding out that instead of coming back to win a close decision, his superior conditioning and aggressiveness allows him to open up matches and challenge for bonus points every time he takes the mat. Sporting a 16-6 overall record, Bonilla-Bowman finds himself back in the national rankings after being absent for a short while. While JBB may be at his best when competing in the friendly confines of the Mack Sports Complex, there is little reason to think that his performance will suffer much tomorrow at the Palestra….At this time, it remains unknown whether or not UPenn will field a wrestler in this weight class. Expected starter, Matt Dragon, is only recently back to practice. Therefore, if for any reason the coaching staff feels that he is not ready to go, 157 could easily turn into a quick six for the visiting Pride….Should Dragon take the mat, he will no doubt look to shorten the bout by focusing hard on riding tough. Regarded as an extremely above average tilter, the longer that Dragon can keep this one on the mat, the better his chances of building a lead and preserving fuel. Entering this match with a 19-3 record, Dragon is perfect in duals this season, going 5-0….If a match is wrestled, expect for the Quaker senior to hang in there for a while. However, given his time away from the mat, it is doubtful that he will have the stamina to contend with the seven minute war conducive to a Bonilla-Bowman match.
Prediction:Bonilla-Bowman Wins by Decision
Projected Team Score:9-7 UPenn
Result: Bonilla-Bowman (HU) MD Burak (UPenn), 15-6