ST. LOUIS – The University of Pennsylvania wrestling team has five wrestlers set to begin the chase for a national championship on Thursday when the 2015 NCAA Championships begin at the Scottrade Center.
One year removed from sending four first-time qualifiers to the national tournament, the Quakers send a more veteran contingent this go around, with four second-time qualifiers joining one newcomer.
Lorenzo Thomas is a returning NCAA All-American, and he will return to defend his sixth-place finish at 184 pounds last year. Seeded No. 10 this year, Thomas brings a 26-5 record to the national tournament. His first round opponent is Missouri’s Willie Miklus. Unseeded, Miklus is 29-7 this season and coming off a runner-up finish at the MAC Championships. In terms of common opponents this season, Thomas and Miklus have both wrestled Gabe Dean, Jack Dechow, and Matt McCutcheon. Both Thomas and Miklus went 0-2 against Dean, while Miklus was 1-1 with Dechow to Thomas’s 0-1. Thomas has the edge against McCutcheon with a win while Miklus had a one-point loss.
No. 13 seed C.J. Cobb is returning to his second NCAA Championships and first at 149 pounds. Cobb went 2-2 in his first trip to NCAAs in 2013 at 141 pounds. This season, Cobb posted a 20-5 record and he has won 15 of his last 17 matches entering the national tournament. Cobb has drawn Kent State’s Mike DePalma in the first round. The two have not met previously. DePalma is 21-17 this season but he enters the tournament with wins in five of his last six bouts. The only common opponent between the two is Lehigh’s Drew Longo. Cobb has two wins over Longo, while DePalma lost in their only meeting.
Senior Canaan Bethea powered his way to a second place finish at EIWAs two weeks ago, and earned an automatic bid to his second NCAA Championships – and first at 197 pounds. In 2013, Bethea went 0-2 at 184 pounds. This season, Bethea is 16-7 and peaking at the right time with wins in six of his last seven matches including three major decisions. His opponent on Thursday morning will be the No. 10 seed, Conner Hartmann of Duke. Hartmann is a returning All-America, coming off a fifth place finish at 197 last season. This season, he is 26-2 with an ACC Championship to his credit. Hartmann started his season with a 15-match win streak and he brings a 10-bout winning streak with him to St. Louis. The only common opponent between the two is Army’s Bryce Barnes. Bethea went 2-0 against Barnes this season, Hartmann was 1-0.
Sophomore Caleb Richardson is back to the NCAA championships for the second consecutive season. Last season, he was 0-2 at 125 pounds, this year he will enter the 133-pound bracket. Richardson is 25-9 this season with 10 bonus point victories. Up first for Richardson is No. 9 seed A.J. Schopp of Edinboro. A two-time All-American, Schopp is 19-2 this season but has only competed five times since the end of December. He is 4-1 in that span, though, with three falls. Overall this season, Schopp has bonus points in 16 of his 19 wins.
The lone first-timer for the Quakers this year at NCAAs is Brooks Martino. The junior earned an automatic bid to the 157-pound field with his sixth place finish at EIWAs. Martino is 14-12 this season. His opponent on Thursday will be No. 10 seed Justin DeAngelis of Oklahoma. The Big 12 runner up, DeAngelis is 20-5 this season.
The first round of the NCAA Championships begins at 12 p.m. Thursday. Coverage will be live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN for every match of the tournament. In addition, live coverage on ESPN and ESPNU will be featured throughout the tournament.
Thursday, March 19 | 12 p.m. | ESPNU
Thursday, March 19 | 7 p.m. | ESPNU
Friday, March 20 | 11 a.m. | ESPNU
Friday, March 20 | 8 p.m. | ESPN
Saturday, March 21 | 11 a.m. | ESPNU
Saturday, March 21 | 8 p.m. | ESPN