Wednesday evening, right around the time that the New York Yankees were surging to a 2-0 game 6 lead by virtue of a Hideki Matsui homerun, Lighthouse Wrestling was in the process of getting it confirmed that 2x defending CHSAA Catholic State/2008 NYS DI Champion, Andrew Lenzi, had indeed officially come off of the market….Responding to a facebook message left for him, the two-time NYS finalist confirmed that earlier in the evening, he had contacted the University of Pennsylvania’s Head Wrestling Coach, Rob Eiter, to inform him that he had decided to make the Philadelphia based campus his home away from home for the next four years (commencing in the Fall of 2010)….Lenzi becomes the first recruit from the current senior class to formally announce his intentions to join the Qakers.
A household name in New York since 2006 when he won the Schoolboy State title in impressive fashion, teching nearly all of his opponents, the future student-athlete at the famed Wharton School of Business, has found himself on everybody’s radar ever since.
Electing to concentrate on the academic adjustment that accompanies matriculation at a top-flight college preparatory school in 2007, Lenzi and his family made the decision to forego the rigors of weight cutting. However, despite being pitted against physically more mature upperclassmen, the Ram wrestler compiled a more than respectable freshmen campaign, culminating with a third place finish at the Catholic State tournament (the CHSAA qualifier for the NYS tournament).
As a sophomore, Lenzi would distinguish himself as a true contender for the federation hardware at the Eastern States Tournament (considered by some to be a tougher tournament to win than the NYS title because it includes wrestlers from both divisions)….Seeded 12th, Lenzi would go on to win his first four matches, including a 10-4 decision over top-seeded Brian Benton (currently at George Mason University), before bowing out in the finals to Dom Oddo…This would be a loss that Lenzi would study and learn from, avenging the defeat several weeks later in the quarterfinals of the state tournament….a 14-5 major decision over Brandan McKeown in the semi finals would set the stage for a rematch with Benton, with the victor not only going the spoils, but claiming the 130-pound state crown as well….And, again, it would be the representative from the Catholic League that got his arm raised, emerging with the 5-3 decision. The win made Lenzi the first wrestler from the CHSAA to earn the top step on the podium since 2000 When St. Anthony’s Lucas Magnani (wrestled for Brown University and the University of Iowa) won the title as a sophomore….Lenzi would be an emphatic exclamation point on 2008, earning All-American honors at the NHSCA Sophomore National tournament, finishing 6th at 135-pounds.
Lenzi, rated as the #8 senior in the Empire State’s 2010 class, would wrestle his way back onto center state last season, winning his first three matches in Albany (including a thrilling 6-5 decision over former 2x NYS Champion/Current Harvard freshman, Paul Liguori)…However, unlike his magical sophomore season, the future Quaker would have to watch as his opponent, Rocky Point’s Stephen Dutton (#3 senior in NYS; Verbal commitment to Lehigh University) would go on to get his first taste of glory, knocking the defending champion from his throne via a 10-1 major decision.
Now, just a month or so away from the beginning of his swan song, those of us who have chatted with Lenzi know how hungry he is to return to the top of the mountain…Should the FP captain succeed in his mission to recapture the gold, he will have made history, becoming the first wrestler from the Catholic League to win multiple state crowns. In doing so, he will immediately join the likes of the aforementioned Magnani in the discussion of the greatest wrestler in CHSAA history
Projected as a 141-pounder on the next level, Lenzi chose the University of Pennsylvania over Ivy League rivals, Columbia University, Harvard University, and Princeton University…When asked about the deciding factors, the two-time CHSAA State Most Outstanding Wrestler cited the quality of the coaching staff, saying “Coach Eiter and Coach Valenti are really good guys and really good coaches. I believe I will be able to achieve all of my goals under them. They are the type of people that would do anything for me or any other member on the team to help them achieve their goals.” Lenzi also spoke very highly of the camaraderie that he experienced during his visit to the campus, talking in detail about how he was impressed with the fact that all of the team members are friends off of the mat as well. To conclude, Lenzi commented about life after wrestling and how he felt the strength of the academics (especially the Business program) were ideal for him, saying “Wharton is the #1 Business School in the nation. It will provide me with the opportunity to be most successful after my career on the mat is finished.”
With the addition of former 2x NCAA Champion, Matt Valenti, to the UPenn coaching staff coupled with the return of incumbent starter, Bryan Ortenzio (133) and former blue-chip recruits Dan White and Zack Kemmerer, there should be no shortage of quality workout partners to reach the fullest extent of his potential.
On behalf of everyone at LHW, we offer our sincerest congratulations to Andrew and his family on this big moment…Coach Eiter is getting a great young man !!!
Jason Bross from Monsignor Farrell High School contributed to this story.
2009 NYS DI Semifinals: Andrew Lenzi (Fordham Prep) vs. Udit Thakur (Nyack)