In a star-studded competition — including 22 ranked wrestlers and a defending national champion — there was no match more anticipated, by Penn fans and college wrestling fans alike, than the 184-pound final bout in Sunday’s Keystone Classic. The top five matchup between Penn senior Lorenzo Thomas and the University of Pittsburgh’s Max Thomusseit lived up to the hype but unfortunately for the Quakers, Thomas fell to the fourth ranked Thomusseit 5-3.
En route to the finals, Thomas only allowed 3 points, winning by fall in the first round, by a 15-3 major decision in the second round, by a 9-0 major decision in the quarterfinals and by a 6-0 decision in the semifinals. His loss was his first of the season and prevented him from defending his Keystone Classic title.
The physical Thomusseit limited Thomas’ scoring opportunities. As a result, Thomas struggled to work his high crotch series and trip series which guided him to the finals.
Head coach Alex Tirapelle noted that sophomore Caleb Richardson impressed him the most Sunday.
The 133-pounder provided one of the few bright spots for the Quakers Sunday. The 2014 NCAA qualifier finished in third place in the 133-pound weight class. Richardson put together a spirited performance in the wrestlebacks after narrowly losing 7-6 in the quarterfinals. That would, however, be the lone blemish on his record Sunday. The sophomore came back to pick up a major decision followed by two straight overtime wins to cap off his evening.
While the Quakers would come alive in the wrestlebacks on the heels of strong performances by freshmen, notably Joe Heyob and May Bethea , they failed to produce a solid all around performance as a team. Only Thomas was able to make it past the quarterfinals, and as a result, the Red and Blue failed to meet the high expectations they had put on themselves.
“We did a lot of good things and we did some bad things,” Tirapelle bluntly noted.
The Quakers, who entered the weekend as the No. 24 ranked team in the country, saw themselves outpaced by the likes of unranked Rider, Eastern Michigan and Harvard, amongst others, before ultimately finishing 10th out of 15th. The only other two ranked teams in the tournament, No. 6 Northwestern and No. 16 Pittsburgh , blew Penn out of the water, proving that this young squad has a long way to go if they hope to compete with the nation's top teams come March.
Next weekend, the Quakers will take on Rider — who finished second Sunday — and Clarion in back-to-back dual meets. This will be a chance for Tirapelle’s squad to bounce back and show Rider that their performance in the Palestra was a fluke.
“Wrestling a tournament is completely different from wrestling a dual … because it completely comes down to matchups,” Tirapelle pointed out.
The Red and Blue are strong at every weight despite only having a couple of stars. This should help them come dual meet season when success is determined by the collective efforts of a deep roster.
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