PHILADELPHIA – The first NCAA Coaches Panel of the 2014-15 season was released on Thursday, with three University of Pennsylvania wrestlers earning Top-33 rankings inside their respective weightclasses.
No. 6 Lorenzo Thomas, No 14 C.J. Cobb and No. 22 Caleb Richardson all earned spots inside the Top-33 of their weightclass, giving them an early track towards an NCAA Championships berth this coming March.
The Division I head coaches vote on the NCAA Coaches Panel, ranking each weightclass into its top 33, a number which correlates to the number of berths up for grabs to compete at the NCAA Championships in Saint Louis.
A returning All-American at 184 pounds, Lorenzo Thomas is the highest-ranked Quaker, boasting a 17-2 record. Runner-up at the Midlands Championships and the Keystone Classic, Thomas has had seven matches against fellow Top-33 wrestlers, putting together a 5-2 record in those matches. His highest ranked win this year came against No. 7 Hayden Zillmer of North Dakota State at Midlands, and both of his losses have come to wrestlers ranked above him – No. 2 Max Thomusseit of Pittsburgh and No. 3 Jack Dechow of Old Dominion.
Looking ahead, Thomas is likely to have five opportunities to add to his resume against wrestlers inside this week’s Top-33, starting with No. 1 Gabe Dean of Cornell on Saturday and No. 32 Jack McKeever of Binghamton on Sunday. Other scheduled matchups for Thomas inside the Top-33 are against No. 25 Ophir Bernstein of Brown, No. 27 Brett Harner of Princeton, and No. 33 Zack Hernandez of Columbia.
C.J. Cobb missed the early portion of the season, but has returned to post a 12-3 record in his first season at 149 pounds. An NCAA qualifier at 141 in 2013, Cobb is 1-1 against fellow Coaches Panel selections, with a win over Rider’s No. 18 B.J. Clagon and a loss to No. 11 Gabe Moreno of Iowa State. Cobb has three likely matches against Top-33 opponents coming down the pike, starting with No. 6 Chris Villalonga of Cornell this weekend. The final weekend of the season will also see Cobb against Top-33 opponents in No. 21 Adam Krop of Princeton and No. 22 Matt Cimato of Drexel.
An NCAA qualifier last season at 125 pounds, Caleb Richardson is up to 133 this year and has jumped out to a 17-7 record. Eighth at Midlands, Richardson is 3-5 against wrestlers inside the Top-33, with four of those losses coming inside the top 13. Richardson, ranked No. 22, has wins over No. 19 Geoffrey Alexander of Maryland, No. 21 Robert Deutsch of Rider, and No. 23 Dominick Malone of Northwestern. His losses have come to No. 6 Earl Hall of Iowa State, No. 10 Ryan Taylor of Wisconsin, No. 11 Mason Beckman of Lehigh, No. 13 Danny Sabatello of Purdue and Malone.
Up next for Richardson is No. 24 Mark Grey of Cornell, followed by a meeting with No. 15 Kevin Devoy of Drexel in the season finale.
A host of Quakers are likely just on the outside looking in of the Top 33, led by Jeff Canfora at 141 pounds. He is 1-2 against Top-33 opponents this season, with a win over No. 31 Chuck Zeisloft of Rider. He has two more Top-33 opponents on the schedule, including No. 16 Todd Preston of Harvard and No. 33 Jordan Laster of Princeton.
An NCAA qualifier last year at 174 pounds, Brad Wukie is 5-4 this season after missing the first semester. He knocked off No. 11 Tanner Weatherman of Iowa State and is 1-1 overall against Top-33 wrestlers. This weekend, he has a match with No. 23 Duke Pickett of Cornell.
Another Quaker who missed the first semester and is working his way back towards the Top 33 is 197 pounder Canaan Bethea. An NCAA qualifier at 184 in 2013, Bethea is 7-3 this season, and 1-2 against Top-33 opponents. He dropped a match to No. 3 Kyven Gadson of Iowa State and No. 17 Abe Ayala of Princeton before knocking off No. 23 Bryce Barnes of Army last weekend. He has three more matches against Top-33 opponents on his schedule, starting with No. 14 Jace Bennett of Cornell this weekend. Following that, he has a rematch with Ayala and a meeting with No. 10 James Fox of Harvard on the docket.
Ray Bethea missed time from the middle of November until last weekend, but returned with a win over No. 19 Coleman Gracey of Army. He has another Top-33 opponent this weekend in No. 13 Dylan Palacio of Cornell, followed by No. 27 Jonathan Schleifer of Princeton on February 21.