University Park, Pa. — Penn State Nittany Lion wrestlers Phil Davis (Harrisburg, Pa.), the No. 1 ranked 197-pounder in the nation, and James Yonushonis, the No. 3-ranked 174-pounder in the nation, have finalized spots in the prestigious National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic. The event will take place in the Dallas Convention Center Arena on Monday, Nov. 20.
Davis, a junior and a 2006 national runner-up, will face Cornell\’s Jerry Rinaldi in one of the event\’s marquee match-ups. While Davis is ranked No. 1 in every major pre-season poll, Rinaldi enters the exhibition bout ranked No. 2 by the NWCA.
The duo knows each other very well as Davis downed Rinaldi 7-4 in the national semifinals last season. Davis also nipped Rinaldi 3-0 in a regular season dual in Rec Hall. Two years ago, Davis beat Rinaldi 8-5 during his freshman campaign in a dual at Cornell during the regular season. The duo then faced off in the first round of the 2005 NCAA Championships with Davis posting an impressive 7-1 win over Rinaldi on his way to earning seventh place and his first of two All-America medals.
The potential full field features 20 of the country\’s best grapplers. At 118, Oklahoma\’s Sam Hazewinkle will face Cornell\’s Troy Nickerson. Penn\’s Matt Valenti will tangle with Oklahoma State\’s Coleman Scott at 125. Northwestern\’s Ryan Lange will meet Michigan State\’s Andy Simmons at 141. Minnesota\’s Dustin Schlatter will face Oklahoma\’s Matt Storniolo at 149. Brian Stith of Arizona State will meet Iowa State’s Trent Paulson at 157. Oklahoma State\’s Johnny Hendricks will meet Mark Perry of Iowa at 165. Penn State\’s Yonushonis faces Matt Herrington of Penn at 174. Northwestern’s Jake Herbert will meet Minnesota\’s Roger Kish at 184. Minnesota\’s Cole Konrad will face Harvard\’s Bode Ogunwole at HWT. The field is subject to change and not all bouts are finalized. However, Davis and Rinaldi\’s match-up is firm.
\”It\’s an honor to be recognized and asked to compete in this event,\” head coach Troy Sunderland said. \”This gives Phil a highly competitive match early in the season and gives us a gauge on what he needs to do to take the next step towards becoming a national champion.\”
Yonushonis got the invite when No. 1 Ben Askren of Missouri opted out of the event. Yonushonis will face No. 2 Matt Herrington of Penn in the 174-pound match-up. With Davis and Yonushonis making the trip, Penn State joins Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Northwestern, Minnesota and Penn as teams with more than one grappler taking part.
Yonushonis, a senior captain for Penn State, is a returning All-American, having finished eighth at nationals in Oklahoma City last March. The Philipsburg native went 24-9 last season, including a 14-2 dual match mark. He has a 53-44 career record as a three-year starter for head coach Troy Sunderland.
The duo met last season at nationals with Herrington coming away with a win by fall in the consolation quarterfinals. Herrington went on to place fifth and Yonushonis placed eighth. Yonushonis and Herrington did not wrestle in the dual match between the two schools last season.
\”It\’s an amazing accomplishment for James and a great way for him to start off his senior year,\” Sunderland said. \”The improvement he\’s made over the years is outstanding and it is a credit to his work ethic that he gets this opportunity.\”
Penn State opens up the 2006-07 season when it hosts Wrestle-Offs on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. in Rec Hall. The regular season commences on Sunday, Nov. 19, when Penn State will face Clarion, Pitt-Johnstown and No. 13 Edinboro at the Pennsylvania Duals. The event, hosted by Lock Haven University, begins at 10 a.m. in LHU’s Thomas Field House. Davis and Sunderland will then fly to Dallas Sunday evening after the Pa. Duals in preparation for Monday night’s NWCA All-Star Classic.
Penn State’s home schedule begins in earnest with a home dual vs. Lehigh on Friday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. Admission to Wrestle-Offs is free. Season and single-match tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the Penn State ticket office at 814-863-1000 or 800-833-5533 for more information. Fans can also get tickets at GoPSUsports.com. This year’s season ticket prices are $24 for adults and $18 for students. Single dual prices are $5 per event for adults and $3 per event for youth.