PHILADELPHIA – Four University of Pennsylvania wrestlers have earned selections to the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships to be held at Madison Square Garden March 17-19.
Three of the qualifiers – Casey Kent, Caleb Richardson, and Lorenzo Thomas – will be making return trips to the national tournament, and they will be joined by first-time entrant May Bethea.
Lorenzo Thomas, making his third appearance at the NCAA Championships, is seeded 11th at 184 pounds. A NCAA All-American in 2014, Thomas has seven career wins at the NCAA Championships – tied for 11th-most all-time by a Penn wrestler. Thomas will wrestle West Virginia’s Bubba Scheffel in the first round. Scheffel is a three-time NCAA qualifier for the Mountaineers, and recently finished third at the Big 12 Championships.
Thomas has now been seeded all three times he has entered the NCAA Championships. In 2014, the year he earned All-American honors, he entered as the No. 11 seed.
174-pounder Casey Kent is back to the NCAA Championships for the second time after qualifying at 165 pounds in 2014. He will take on Virginia Tech’s No. 8 seed Zach Epperly in the first round. A returning All-American, Epperly finished seventh at 174 pounds last season. This season, Epperly is 10-2 after missing most of the first semester.
Junior Caleb Richardson is making his third NCAA Championships appearance in three years. He is the fifth Quaker to reach the NCAA Championships in each of his first three seasons at Penn. The others – Micah Burak, Matt Feast, Scott Giffin, and Rick Springman – all earned at least one All-American finish during their careers. Richardson will begin his third NCAA Championships with Michigan’s Rossi Bruno in a pigtail match at 133 pounds. Bruno, a four-time NCAA qualifier for the Wolverines, finished eighth at 133 pounds last season to earn All-American honors. Bruno, like Richardson, is an at-large selection for the 2016 Championships. This season, Bruno is 14-11.
May Bethea is making his first trip to the national tournament, joining his older brother, Canaan ’15, who was a two-time qualifier for the Quakers. When May steps on the mat next Thursday, he and Canaan will become the seventh set of siblings to compete at the NCAA Championships for the Quakers. May’s first opponent will be No. 14 seed Austin Matthews of Edinboro. A NCAA Qualifier last season at Clarion, Matthews was 1-2 at the national tournament. This season, he is 10-4 and coming off an EWL Championship.
The first round of the 2016 NCAA Championships begins at high noon on March 17. Every match of every session will be broadcast on ESPN3 and WatchESPN in addition to the ESPN family of broadcast networks.