PHILADELPHIA – The second NCAA Coaches Panel of the 2014-15 season was released on Friday, signifying the Top-33 wrestlers in each weight class as sights set on the month of March and the NCAA Championships.
The University of Pennsylvania’s wrestling team continues to have three wrestlers ranked inside the Top-33, each moving up spots from the previous rankings. Lorenzo Thomas is ranked No. 5 at 184 pounds, leading the Red and Blue’s contingent. C.J. Cobb is ranked No. 9 at 149 pounds, giving the Quakers a pair of Top-10 wrestlers. Caleb Richardson rounds out the Quakers in the Top-33, ranking No. 18 at 133 pounds.
Thomas is up one spot from his previous Coaches Panel ranking, climbing to No. 5 in the nation. A returning All-American from last season, Thomas is 20-3 overall this year. He is 7-3 against opponents ranked inside this week’s Top-33, with all three of his losses coming to wrestlers currently ranked No. 1-3 in the country.
Cobb moved up to No. 9 at 149 pounds from a previous ranking of No. 14. His progression likely comes from his current nine-match winning streak which features a win over No. 6 Chris Villalonga of Cornell. Cobb is 2-1 inside the Top-33 this season.
Richardson climbed from No. 22 last ranking to No. 18 this time out as he too has gone undefeated since the previous release. Richardson leads the Red and Blue with 21 wins this season, and he has won his last six overall. Richardson is 3-5 overall against Top-33 opponents, including a win over No. 17 Geoffrey Alexander of Maryland. Richardson has one more shot a ranked wrestler this season as a matchup with No. 13 Kevin Devoy of Drexel awaits next weekend.
A few Quakers are on the outside looking in of the NCAA’s Top-33 with two ranking periods remaining. Jeff Canfora, 15-9 this season, has a 1-3 record against Top-33 opponents – with his win a decision over No. 31 Chuck Zeisloft of Rider. Last weekend, he was edged in overtime, 4-2, by No. 13 Todd Preston of Harvard. Canfora has one more opportunity to add to his Top-33 resume next weekend when he will take on No. 30 Jordan Laster of Princeton.
Last weekend, Brooks Martino knocked off No. 18 Justin Staudenmayer of Brown, 2-1, to increase his overall season record to 9-8. Martino is 1-3 against Top-33 opponents, and No. 32 Noel Blanco of Drexel awaits next weekend.
Ray Bethea is an interesting case at 165 pounds. He is 8-4 overall this season, but just 5-2 at 165 pounds. He does have a win over No. 18 Coleman Gracey of Army. Since losing to No. 13 Dylan Palacio of Cornell in controversial fashion, Bethea has been out of the lineup. If he is able to return next weekend, he likely would wrestle No. 27 Jonathan Schleifer of Princeton. Bethea most likely will not have enough matches at 165 to earn an automatic bid for the conference, but he can wrestle his way to at-large contention should he not earn a spot at NCAAs.
Ray’s older brother, Canaan, is in a similar situation. After missing the first semester, Canaan Bethea returned to the lineup at Midlands and has built a 9-5 record. Canaan is 1-4 against Top-33 opponents, including a 2-0 win over Army’s No. 22 Bryce Barnes. Bethea’s first match of the season was against No. 9 Abe Ayala of Princeton, a bout Bethea was edged in, 6-5. The two will meet again next weekend.
A returning NCAA qualifier, Brad Wukie is 7-6 this season at 174 pounds. He has one of the highest-ranking wins of any Quakers this year with his 3-2 decision over No. 13 Tanner Weatherman of Iowa State. He is 1-2 overall against Top-33 opponents.
Thomas and Cobb ranking inside the Top-10 make Penn one of 24 programs with multiple Top-10 wrestlers this week. The Quakers are the only EIWA program besides Cornell (four) with multiple wrestlers inside the Top-10.
As a team, the Quakers moved up to No. 22 this week according to InterMat’s Tournament Power Index which ranks teams according to prospective NCAA Tournament points. InterMat has Thomas at No. 5, Cobb at No. 8 and Richardson at No. 19 to give the Quakers 18.5 projected points.
Penn concludes the road portion of its regular season on Saturday at Columbia. The first bout is scheduled for 7 p.m. in University Gym.