Matt Valenti

Matt Valenti

Associate Head Coach, University of Pennsylvania

Two-time NCAA wrestling champion and Penn Athletics Hall of Famer Matt Valenti C'07 has returned to coaching as associate head coach and will succeed Roger Reina C'84 as the program's head coach on April 1, 2025. Reina will remain the head coach in 2024-25, culminating in Penn's co-hosting of the NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Wells Fargo Center, and will serve as head coach emeritus for his final year of coaching in 2025-26.

"I am absolutely thrilled for Matt, Roger and our wrestling program that we were able to successfully and thoughtfully plan for this leadership transition," Alanna Shanahan, the T. Gibbs Kane, Jr. W'69 Director of Athletics and Recreation said. "The opportunity for these two alumni to work together for two years will be powerful and impactful for our student-athletes."

Valenti is the program's career leader in wins (137) and won NCAA championships in 2006 and 2007 at 133 pounds. He was a three-time NCAA All-American, a three-time EIWA champion, three-time first-team All-Ivy selection and the 2007 Ivy League Wrestler of the Year. Valenti was inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017 and the EIWA Hall of Fame in 2014.

"Matt's incredible success as a student-athlete at Penn was worthy of induction into our Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility," Shanahan said. "That athletic background, combined with his prior coaching experience at Penn, strong ties to the alumni and campus community, and robust administrative experience in student-athlete success, mental health and as our admissions liaison made him the ideal choice to succeed Roger and lead the Penn wrestling program. Matt has been successful during every stage of his career and I'm confident his return to the coaching ranks will benefit our current and future student-athletes in competition, in the classroom and in the community."

"As a proud alumnus, it is a tremendous honor to step into a leadership role with the Penn wrestling program," Valenti said. "Roger's legacy is unparalleled, and I am committed to continuing and enhancing the tradition of excellence that he has cultivated through the years. Together with the Penn wrestling team, alumni, staff, and community, I look forward to forging a path of continued success both on and off the mat."

"This thoughtful transition will enable our Penn wrestlers, families, staff and alumni to work together over the next two years to effectively navigate the change and empower the successful future of Penn wrestling. Our community is committed to a lasting legacy of excellence," Reina said. "I am excited to begin working with Matt along with our staff in the continued pursuit of our goals."

Among post-graduate freestyle honors, Valenti won the bronze medal at 60 kg at the Pan-American Championships and third place for the LVAC at the 2009 U.S. National Open. He also placed fourth at a U.S. World Team Trials in a weight class featuring five former or future World Team members.

Valenti began his coaching career as an assistant and then associate head coach at Columbia from 2007-09, before returning to Penn as an assistant wrestling coach from 2009-15. At Penn, he coached four All-Americans (Scott Giffin, Zack Kemmerer, Micah Burak, and Lorenzo Thomas), two EIWA champions (Bryan Ortenzio, Micah Burak), and eight first-team All-Ivy honorees in addition to recruiting a pair of top 20 classes.

He transitioned to athletic administration in 2015 as the Assistant Athletic Director/Recruiting for two years and has served Penn Athletics in various administrative roles over the past decade including Associate AD/Sports Performance & Student-Development (2017-19), Associate AD/Student-Athlete Success (2019-23) and his most recent role as Senior Associate AD/Student-Athlete Leadership and Development. Valenti has served as the sport administrator for numerous Penn varsity programs, including wrestling, was the chair of the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee for two years, and is currently on the NCAA Wrestling Committee.

"I couldn't be more excited for the Penn wrestling community that this succession plan has been confirmed," David S. Pottruck C'70 WG'72, Penn Athletics Hall of Famer and former University trustee said. "This transition exemplifies a commitment to the lasting legacy of excellence of the program, which has been built by the student-athletes, coaches, and alumni over many decades. Matt exemplifies the excellence we shoot for, as a champion in every sense of the word. With both Matt and Roger's leadership, our wrestlers and the program are in good hands."

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