The Penn wrestling program has enjoyed a long and distinguished tradition, but it would be hard to find anyone more intertwined with the program than Roger Reina.
Following a four-year career on the team, including serving as captain his senior year, Roger spent two years as an assistant coach under Larry Lauchle. When Lauchle stepped down in 1986, Roger was named head coach -- just two years removed from being a wrestler on the team, he was suddenly the youngest Division I head coach in the nation. Nineteen years later, he stepped down having recorded a 205-106-6 mark, his win total more than double that of any of his predecessors.
During Roger’s career, Penn finished in the Top 20 at the NCAA Championships several times -- including five times in a six-year span from 1999-2004 -- and he produced an astonishing 63 NCAA qualifiers including 17 All-Americans, had three NCAA finalists, several national Greco-Roman and Freestyle champions, and boasted an NCAA champion (Brett Matter in 2000) and an Olympic champion (Brandon Slay in 2000).
Penn won its first Ivy League title under Roger in 1994, beginning a string of success unprecedented in league annals -- after losing the crown in 1995, the Quakers set a record by taking seven straight championships from 1996-2002. In the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA), Penn won four team championships, and collected 31 individual champions from 1996 until Roger’s retirement -- staggering, given that from 1945-95 not one Penn wrestler won an EIWA crown.
Roger had five grapplers bestowed with the Class of 1915 Award, given annually to the senior male student-athlete who most closely approaches the ideal University of Pennsylvania student-athlete and shown outstanding athletic, academic and leadership qualities.
Roger’s leadership was recognized by his colleagues at every level -- he was elected Chairman of the Ivy League Wrestling Coaches Association, President of the EIWA Coaches Association, and President of the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA). He was a four-time NWCA National Coach of the Year nominee and a three-time EIWA Coach of the Year.