Latrobe Grad Hunts NCAA Gold

By Wunderley, Ken | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), March 21, 2013 | Go to article overview

Latrobe Grad Hunts NCAA Gold


Wunderley, Ken, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Nathan Pennesi entered the Big 12 Wrestling Tournament, but did not wrestle a match, yet still qualified for his third consecutive trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament, which began this morning at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

Pennesi (21-9), a graduate of Latrobe High Schoool, was chosen as an at-large selection in the 141-pound weight class.

"Nathan was out four weeks with a broken [middle] finger [on his left hand]," West Virginia coach Craig Turnbull said. "It happened when he was warming up for practice. It was a freak injury."

Turnbull immediately pulled Pennesi from the Mountaineers starting lineup to let him heal.

"With only four weeks until the NCAA tournament, we had to come up with the best strategy to get him ready, even if he couldn't do any live drilling," Turnbull said. "At that point, I didn't know whether we had enough time. We certainly didn't control of the cards."

Pennesi had a 21-9 record at the time and was ranked No. 11 in the country by the coaches poll.

"There was no way he could wrestle in the Big 12 tournament, so we decided to take a chance and hope the selection committee would choose him with an at-large berth," Turnbull said. "It was a risky move because we didn't know for sure that he would get picked."

With that in mind, Pennesi was entered in the Big 12 tournament and was given a medical default for each match.

"The referee had to begin each bout, then stop it one second later so that I could be given a medical default," Pennesi said. "That kept me eligible for the NCAA tournament. It was tough sitting at the Big 12 tournament and a bit stressful waiting for the committee to determine my fate."

"We informed the selection committee that it was a small bone in his hand and much different than something like an ACL injury," Turnbull said. "We had to show them that this injury would not significantly hurt his performance at the national tournament."

Pennesi wore a cast the first two weeks of his recovery, then switched to a brace for the next two weeks. …

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