The outcome of the meet was no longer in doubt, but the most exciting part of the day was yet to come.
When Lorenzo Thomas stepped up for his bout with Binghamton’s Steven Schneider, Penn wrestling had already secured a comfortable 21-3 advantage on the day. For Thomas, however, a bigger milestone was still on the line.
Seven minutes and an 8-1 decision later, the Pittsburgh native became just the 11th grappler in program history to record 100 career wins.
“Like I’ve said a couple times, it’s something that I came in as a freshman — it’s one of your long-term goals to reach 100,” Thomas said. “It’s a big milestone. And I’m happy I was able to reach it here.”
Thomas’ victory gave the Red and Blue a 24-3 lead, which would culminate in a 24-9 win on the day against Bearcats. For the Quakers (3-1), it marked the third straight win over an Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association rival as conference action has begun heating up.
“At this point of the season, there is no magic formula,” coach Alex Tirapelle said. “It just kind of stays constant.”
Although there was little to worry about by the time the 184-pounder readied for his match, the day didn’t start off as smoothly as it could have for the Quakers.
At 125 pounds, junior Jeremy Schwartz lost a 4-3 decision to open the meet. It was a brief setback for Tirapelle’s squad, but they didn’t trail for long.
Following Schwartz’s defeat, the Red and Blue rattled off seven straight wins, sparked by junior Caleb Richardson and sophomore Marc Mastropietro at 133 and 141 pounds, respectively.
In Richardson’s bout, he coasted to a 6-2 victory, knotting the two squads at three points apiece. For Mastropietro, although the match stood at one-all through three periods, two quick near falls secured the match for the 141-pounder with a 5-1 decision.
It only got easier from there.
Binghamton did not field an opponent against senior CJ Cobb at 149 pounds, meaning the Quakers were automatically awarded six more points — the same as a pin. Up 12-3, Penn’s May Bethea, Brooks Martino and Casey Kent each easily dispatched their opponents, highlighted by Kent’s 4-0 win at 174.
“I thought our guys competed hard, they came in, they got off to fast starts,” Tirapelle remarked. “They were trying to create scoring opportunities right away. So all in all it was a really good match.”
Then Thomas’ name was called. After a slow first period, the senior turned up the heat, and Schneider never really had a chance.
“I had to treat it like any other match,” he commented after the win. “I guess I was nervous in the beginning, but once I started going, just treated it like any other match.
“For the most part, even if it’s a close dual match I try to wrestle to my ability and then that’ll end up helping the team, if I can wrestle as well as I can wrestle.”
With the seven-point victory, Thomas earned the Quakers three points, officially putting the meet out of Binghamton’s reach. The Red and Blue wouldn’t score again on the day, however, as 197-pounder Robert Ng lost in overtime, 7-5, and sophomore Patrik Garren lost 4-3 thanks to a two-point takedown by Connor Calkin with 10 seconds to go.
“I would have liked to have finished a little bit better, the last couple matches left a little bit of a sour taste in our mouths,” Tirapelle said. “But up and down the lineup we competed pretty hard today.”
Despite the stumbles from Garren and Calkin, the match was in hand and the team could celebrate Thomas’ success along with its own.
For the senior 184-pounder, though, 100 wins isn’t the end goal. The culmination of this season may yet be something he’s already achieved once before: Become an All-American.
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