A long day of grappling came to a satisfying end in Penn wrestling’s season opener.
Senior Lorenzo Thomas took home the title in the 184-pound category at the East Stroudsburg University Open, going 5-0 on the day.
He met a tough opponent in Penn State redshirt freshman Matt McCutcheon in the semifinals, narrowly escaping with a 4-2 victory. Thomas then sealed the title with a resounding 16-1 technical fall over Rutgers redshirt freshman Taylor Jackson to solidify his No. 4 ranking in the country in his weight class.
“There were a couple tough kids [that Thomas wrestled against] in there,” coach Alex Tirapelle said. “He had good control, had a good performance and just took care of business.”
Sophomore Dan McDevitt also reached the finals for the Quakers at 174 pounds. McDevitt, who won only six matches over his entire freshman year, went 5-1 in the tournament, losing to Navy junior John Keck 5-1 in the final matchup.
McDevitt looked particularly strong against second-round opponent Delaware Valley freshman Kyle Palinkas — winning with a pin at 1:33 — and third-round opponent Army freshman Jack Wedholm — defeating him on a technical fall.
Sophomore Caleb Richardson, wrestling in the 133-pound weight class for the first time in his career, took fourth place in his category by going 5-1. Senior captain Andrew Lenzi, down to 141 pounds from his usual 149, went 3-2 in the tournament.
“I think they did fine. It’s an adjustment process,” Tirapelle said of Lenzi and Richardson. “You’re refining each time you get out there. I thought they did all right. Obviously, I think they lost matches they can win, and they could do better, but for where we’re at in the season, I was fine with their performances.”
Penn’s freshmen turned in a strong showing at the tournament. 149-pounder Joseph Velliquette and 174-pounder Joseph Heyob managed to go 3-2 at East Stroudsburg, and 157-pounder May Bethea won four matches. 149-pounder Freddie Dunau and heavyweight Patrik Garren earned their first career victories as well.
“From what I saw, I thought they did pretty good,” Tirapelle said, explaining that he was not able to see each match due to the tournament’s slightly chaotic nature.
“They competed pretty well,” he added. “We’re trying a lot of things we’ve been working on in practice, and competing with good intensity. There was good effort across the board.”
The long tournament finally came to an end near 11 p.m. While Thomas’s victory in the final matchup was a welcomed occurrence, it was certainly no surprise.
“For him, I don’t think there was anything else,” Tirapelle said. “That was pretty much the expectation going in.”
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