It’s a new year with a new lineup for Penn wrestling, yet the Red and Blue’s results were similarly lackluster to what was seen from the team before winter break.
Following a mediocre performance at the prestigious Midlands Championships, one highlighted by the performances of several seniors, the Quakers under-impressed in their dual meet with Iowa State.
With a 14th place finish out of 51 teams, the Quakers’ performance during their trip to Illinois was neither impressive nor embarrassing.
Penn’s top point scorer was senior Lorenzo Thomas, who was seeded first in the 184-pound weight class at Midlands. For most of the day, he performed to expectations, winning his first four matches en route to the finals, including a 7-5 victory over North Dakota State’s Hayden Zillmer, who was ranked seventh in the country.
However, that would be the end of Thomas’ success for the rest of winter break. The Quakers’ captain fell 13-5 to Jack Dechow of Old Dominion in the finals. After the disappointing loss, Thomas did not compete in Penn’s 41-3 dual meet loss to 13th-ranked Iowa State on Jan. 11.
Sophomore Caleb Richardson continued his string of strong performances at Midlands with an eighth-place podium finish. Most impressive was his victory over nationally ranked Geoffrey Alexander of Maryland in the round of twelve. With yet another quality performance, Richardson – a 2014 NCAA qualifier – definitely improved his stock in pursuit of his second-straight bid to the NCAA championships.
Another highlight of the Midlands Championships was a strong showing by senior Brad Wukie, a NCAA qualifier in the 2013-14 season. The tournament was the senior grappler’s debut for the 2014-15 season in the 174-pound weight class, as Wukie was forced to sit out this fall because he only had one remaining semester of eligibility at Penn.
While Wukie would lost his first match at Midlands, he represented the team’s only individual victory in the Cyclone’s blowout of the Quakers.
In the Iowa State dual, Wukie defeated ninth-ranked Tanner Weatherspoon 3-2. With the toughest competition still ahead for the Quakers, the senior should lend the team some much needed spark.
Senior Canaan Bethea also returned to action after sitting out the fall semester due to limited eligibility. The 197-pounder won the Franklin and Marshall Open after dropping his two matches at the Midlands.
The Quakers will have a chance to bounce back in home meets against Lock Haven and Army at the Palestra on Saturday, the final two dual meets before conference play begins against Cornell on Jan. 24 in Ithaca.
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