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Rob Eiter Interview After Session IV
OKLAHOMA CITY – Faced with a stiff test in the wrestlebacks at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships, No. 11 Lorenzo Thomas has navigated his way through the competition to become Penn’s first-ever NCAA All-American at 184 pounds.
The junior from Pittsburgh, Pa. went 4-0 during Friday’s competition, guaranteeing Penn’s highest individual finish at the NCAA Championships since Matt Valenti won his second national title in 2007. Thomas can finish no higher than third and no lower than sixth.
Thomas locked up his spot on the podium with a 7-5 decision over unseeded Blake Stauffer of Arizona State. Thomas scored first with a takedown very early in the match, but Stauffer would counter with a reversal shortly thereafter. Thomas got one point back before the end of the period, notching an escape to lead, 3-2, after one period. In the second frame, Thomas would escape at the start of the period and scored again right at the end, powering through a scramble at the buzzer to lead, 6-2. Stauffer got back in the bout with an escape and a takedown midway through the third period, but he had to cut Thomas to try and tie the match and Thomas was able to defend to the final whistle to become Penn’s 27th NCAA All-American.
Thomas wrapped up his day to remember with an 8-5 decision over No. 12 Ophir Bernstein of Brown. The two Ivy League rivals met for the fourth time this season, and Thomas completed the sweep to continue moving forward in the bracket. Bernstein scored the first takedown, but Thomas would escape and finish a takedown of his own towards the end of the period to lead, 3-2, after one. Thomas provided himself a cushion with a reversal midway through the second, and then more separation with a takedown in the third after Bernstein had escaped. Thomas led, 7-3, with riding time locked up late in the third rendering a late takedown from Bernstein moot in the final result.
In his first bout of the day, No. 11 seed Lorenzo Thomas dominated No. 5 seed Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa, 6-0. Thomas scored two takedowns, one in each of the first periods, and he was in control on top the entire way, amassing 4:48 of riding time against the two-time All-American for the Hawkeyes. The win was Penn’s first over an Iowa wrestler at NCAAs since current assistant coach Matt Valenti defeated Luke Eustice in 2004. Since then, Penn had gone 0-5 against Iowa grapplers.
To keep his tournament alive, Thomas needed to knock off a second consecutive Big Ten opponent and he came through in the clutch with a late reversal to defeat No. 14 seed John Rizzqallah of Michigan State. Thomas scored the only takedown of the match at the 2:22 mark, powering through on a scramble and pushing Rizzqallah down to the mat. The second period saw Thomas look for a reversal, but Rizzqallah was tough on top and rode out the entire period to build a bank of riding time. In the third period, Rizzqallah reversed Thomas before his riding time was erased, taking what would have been a 3-2 lead. Thomas fought back with a reversal of his own with 40 seconds left and holding Rizzqallah down to deny the escape which would have tied the bout.
Thomas will wrestle in the consolation semifinals Saturday morning against another Ivy League foe, No. 3 seed Gabe Dean of Cornell. The two have met twice this year, both two-point wins for Dean. The session begins at 11 a.m. EST and will be televised live on ESPNU and on ESPN3.
184 - #11 Lorenzo Thomas
First Round: def. Austin Moorehead (Oregon State), 12-4
Second Round: lost to #6 Jacob Swartz (Boise St.), 2-0
Consolation Second Round: def. #5 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa), 6-0
Consolation Third Round: def. #14 John Rizzqallah (Michigan State), 4-3
Round of 12: def. Blake Stauffer (Arizona State), 7-5
Consolation Quarterfinals: def. #12 Ophir Bernstein (Brown), 8-5
125 – Caleb Richardson
First Round: lost to #9 Tyler Cox (Wyoming), 9-6
Consolation First Round: lost to Kory Mines (Edinboro), 6-3
165 – Casey Kent
First Round: lost to #4 Steven Monk (North Dakota St.), 7-4
Consolation First Round: lost to John Staudenmayer (North Carolina), 2-1
174 – Brad Wukie
First Round: lost to #7 Tyler Wilps (Pittsburgh), 4-2
Consolation First Round: lost to Joe Latham (Oregon State), 13-11