Jul 1, 2020
An outstanding high school and collegiate wrestler, Rich Lorenzo became an icon in college wrestling as the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions from 1978 to 1992. His exemplary career has earned Lorenzo induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a 2019 Distinguished Member.
During his coaching career, he helped 53 Penn State wrestlers earn All-America honors, including two-time NCAA champion Jeff Prescott and national champions Carl DeStefanis, Scott Lynch and Jim Martin. He led the Nittany Lions to 11 Top 10 NCAA finishes, including six Top Five finishes. Penn State won 11 consecutive Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association team titles and two National Dual Meet championships. Lorenzo was named EIWA Coach of the Year six times and was named National Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1992. Prior to becoming head coach, he was an assistant coach for Penn State from 1968-74 and helped the Nittany Lions finish in the Top 10 at the NCAA tournament four times while winning two EIWA team titles and finishing second three times.
He was co-executive director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association from 1993-95, raising one half of the coaches' $1 million capital campaign challenge, and served as the association’s membership chair and treasurer from 1993-99. Lorenzo was executive director and treasurer for the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, serving as the major fundraiser to fully endow the wrestling program. He was the chief fundraiser for a $4 million wrestling facility, which was named the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex.
On the mat, Lorenzo was a two-time district champion and a state runner-up for Newton (New Jersey) High School. Top-seeded at 191 pounds in the 1968 NCAA Championships, Lorenzo lost a close 2-1 decision in the semifinals and finished fourth. Earlier, he won an EIWA championship and was named Outstanding Wrestler and winner of the trophy for Most Falls. Lorenzo was an East-West dual meet winner in 1968 and a three-time EIWA place winner while going undefeated in dual meets as a junior and senior for the Nittany Lions.
Lorenzo was also a four-time Future Farmers of
America state public speaking champion and was named the New Jersey
Future Farmers of America Star State Farmer in 1964. He received
the Lifetime Service to Wrestling award from the Pennsylvania
Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1995, and was
inducted into both the EWL Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania
Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1996.
Video compilation by Dave “Doc” Bennett.
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Recorded June 2019 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.