NEW YORK, N.Y. – Lorenzo Thomas has mostly flown under the radar during the 2015-16 wrestling season. A 10-1 major decision over returning All-American Blake Stauffer of Arizona State in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships has re-announced his presence on the national scene as he winds down one the finest careers in the history of Penn Wrestling.
Thomas, a 2014 NCAA All-American, broke open a tightly-contested battle with the sixth-seeded Stauffer via a takedown and four backpoints at the end of the first period. With less than 10 seconds to go in the first frame, Thomas locked up a cradle and pivoted Stauffer to his back for the commanding lead.
In the second period, Thomas would get to work on top for the most part, building a bank of riding time before Stauffer could escape. In the third period, an escape and then a final takedown from Thomas sealed the major decision – his third career major during NCAA competition which is tied for most all-time by a Quaker.
Lorenzo Thomas is looking forward to competing for a spot in the semifinals tomorrow at #WrestleNYC pic.twitter.com/OaleMzv7q0— Penn Wrestling (@PennWrestling) March 18, 2016
In Friday’s semifinals, Thomas will wrestle No. 14 seed Willie Miklus of Missouri. The two met last year in the first round of the NCAA Championships, a match Thomas had an early 4-2 lead in before Miklus got a fall at 2:15.
Thomas is the second quarterfinalist in as many years for the Quakers – joining C.J. Cobb who reached the quarters at 149 last season. Penn will have back-to-back quarterfinalists for the first time since a stretch of 11 consecutive tournaments from 1997-2007. Already the first Penn All-American at 184 pounds with his sixth place finish last season, Thomas is now the first-ever quarterfinalist for the Quakers at 184 pounds.
The Quakers went 3-1 in Session I of the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships, scoring two upsets along the way.
2014 All-American Lorenzo Thomas opened his tournament with a 4-2 decision over West Virginia’s Bubba Scheffel. Thomas, the No. 11 seed, picked up two full minutes of riding time in the second period, and then added an escape and takedown in the third. That was the difference, rendering a late Scheffel escape moot.
A pair of unseeded Quakers made some noise to start their NCAA Tournaments in May Bethea and Casey Kent.
Casey Kent knocked off returning All-American Zach Epperly of Virginia Tech – the No. 8 seed – via a 3-2 decision. Kent rode strong in the second period, building up 1:33 of riding time before Epperly scored a reversal. Kent would escape quickly from that – and replicate the escape at the start of the third. Both quick exits kept his riding time at 1:12, and that was the difference as Epperly was unable to mount any offense in the final minute.
In the second round, Kent conceded two big moves early – a pair of six-point throws for No. 9 Chandler Rogers who would go on to counter a late lateral drop attempt from Kent into a fall at 7:00.
May Bethea wasted no time getting his hand raised at the NCAA Championships, knocking off the No. 14 seed – Austin Matthews of Edinboro – in the first round, 8-7.
Bethea scored three takedowns in the match – two in the first period – to build his lead, but it was the work he did on top that secured the win. Bethea added riding time off each takedown, and a strong minute of riding to open the third period locked up that point. The riding time came in handy as a reversal from Matthews and then a takedown with 0:01 on the clock only got the bout to 7-7.
In the second round, Bethea ran into the No. 3 seed Jason Nolf of Penn State. Nolf had the better of the match, working a technical fall, 25-10, at 6:36.
Caleb Richardson was the first Quaker on the mat, but the result was a 2-1 decision for Michigan’s Rossi Bruno in a tiebreaker. Neither wrestler scored a takedown, despite good action in the final minute of regulation and sudden victory. In the tiebreaker, Richardson was unable to escape and Bruno earned a point with an escape nine seconds into the period for the win.
In consolation action, Richardson was caught off guard by Northwestern’s Dom Malone who scored a quick takedown and added nearfall to take control of an eventual 14-1 match.
Thomas takes to the mats for quarterfinal action in Session III which starts at 11 a.m. on March 18. Bethe and Kent will also be in action, competing in consolation matches – each needing three wins tomorrow to earn All-American honors.
133: Caleb Richardson
Preliminary Round: lost to Rossi Bruno (Michigan), 2-1 TB
Consolation Preliminary Round: lost to Dom Malone (Northwestern), 14-1
157: May Bethea
First Round: def. #14 Austin Matthews (Edinboro), 8-7
Second Round: lost to #3 Jason Nolf (Penn State), 25-10
174: Casey Kent
First Round: def. #8 Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech), 3-2
Second Round: lost to #9 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State), FALL 6:59
184: #11 Lorenzo Thomas
First Round: def. Bubba Scheffel (West Virginia), 4-2
Second Round: def. #6 Blake Stauffer (Arizona State), 10-1
Notes: Thomas now has 32 wins this season – tied for 12th-most in a single season by a Penn wrestler … Thomas has 113 career wins, which ranks sixth-highest all-time by a Quakers … Nine of his wins have come at the NCAA Championships – eighth-most by a Penn grappler at the national tournament … There were 28 seeded wrestlers to suffer a loss in Round One, Penn was one of six schools (Edinboro, Penn State, Bucknell, Oklahoma, Iowa State) to pick up two of those wins … Kent’s defeat of No. 8 Epperly was the highest-seeded wrestler defeated by a Quaker in the First Round since Zack Shanaman defeated No. 7 Jake Dieffenbach of Oklahoma State in 2008.