With all due respect to the historic offensive outburst from Penn men’s basketball’s AJ Brodeur in his squad’s win at La Salle, Wednesday night can’t really be considered part of the weekend by any stretch of the imagination. So while the freshman’s epic performance is certainly worthy of respect, the efforts from wrestling’s May Bethea in his team’s EIWA doubleheader make him worthy of MVP honors.
To start the weekend, the Quakers had a tough matchup at a perennially strong Bucknell squad, but Bethea’s efforts nearly carried the Red and Blue to the win. Taking on the 11th-ranked grappler in the nation in the Bison’s Victor Lopez, Bethea seized the individual upset with a last-minute takedown en route to a 3-2 victory. His efforts put the Red and Blue up 7-0 over Bucknell early in the meet, making a team upset appear imminent, although the deep Bison squad eventually came back to top Penn.
Fortunately, though, Bethea and his squad would get another shot to seize their first conference win in a year, and the junior would leave nothing to chance. With Penn only leading 18-14 with just the 157 pound weight class remaining, Bethea had all eyes on him as he attempted to clinch the Quakers’ victory — and with the pressure mounting, he cruised past American’s Tom Page to break the Red and Blue’s long EIWA drought.
For the weekend, Bethea was one of three Penn grapplers to finish 2-0, and he distinguished himself further by being the Quakers’ only competitor on either day to defeat a nationally top-20 ranked opponent.
But as impressive as that upset might be, what matters most is always the team win, and Bethea’s clutch performance in the final individual bout of the weekend brought one of those back to Philadelphia. Thus, for that, the junior is our Penn Athletics’ Weekend MVP.