Seth Thomas leads the Wrestling team on and off the mat

Danny Rice, Sports Reporter

Seth Thomas succeeds on the wrestling mat, excels in the classroom

Heading into the 2015-2016 season the Oregon State wrestling team, a team seeking their fifth straight Pac-12 title, was looking for a leader. A leader that would show the younger wrestlers how to carry themselves on and off the mat. A leader that would demonstrate on how to be a student-athlete. The man for the job was Seth Thomas.

“He’s the leader,” said redshirt sophomore Amarveer Dhesi of his teammate and roommate. “He’s the captain of the team. He took control of this team and we needed that, we needed a leader like him.”

Thomas, a redshirt senior on the wrestling team and a returning NCAA tournament participant. He is also a two-time Pac-12 finalist and ranked 21st in the nation at the 165 pound weight class. While he has accomplished a lot during his career at Oregon State, what he has accomplished in the classroom might even be more impressive.

Thomas graduated last year with a 3.71 GPA and a degree in biology with the goal of going to medical school and fulfilling his dream of becoming a doctor. For many student-athletes, they go to school to play sports and get an education. For Thomas, who was a valedictorian in high school, it was different.

“School has always been my number one,” Thomas said. “That’s my first priority and wrestling was something I do while in college and getting my education is why I came here. I knew I wanted to major in biology and do pre-med.”

The leadership that Thomas provides on the mat and in the weight room is only exceeded by the example of what it takes to be a student-athlete.

“I’ve never seen someone work so hard,” Dhesi said. “When he had a full term last year, he was studying like crazy. I’ve never seen someone study so much and so hard. It’s amazing.”

“You only wrestle for so long,” said head coach Jim Zalesky. “He wants to give back to the community once he’s done and that’s what we want for our kids to do. We want our guys to reach their goals academically and athletically. Your degree is your future and Seth is a great example of getting it done in the classroom and on the mat.”

On the mat, Thomas is no slouch either.  Since beginning his career in second grade, Thomas has traveled all over the country competing against the best of the best. He would later become a three-time state champion at Roseburg High School. When his decorated high school career came to an end, the choice to wrestle for Zalesky and the Oregon State program was an easy one.

“In the end, I wanted to be close to home.” Thomas said. “I felt like OSU was the place where the coaches believed in me and really wanted me here. A lot of other coaches didn’t really seem to care where I went, but I knew that they wanted me here and I wanted to be a part of this team.”

Since arriving in Corvallis, he holds a 74-33 career record, has two second place finishes in the Pac-12 tournament and a NCAA tournament appearance. He has even battled through two meniscus and bursa sac injuries.

In his final year of eligibility, Thomas hopes to leave his mark on the program and to improve each day.

“This is my last go around,” Thomas said. “I need to progress and get better every time I hit the mat. In order for me to progress far in the NCAA tournament, it’s going to come down to the little things—and I’m ready for it.”

Thomas, who is currently 14-6 and on a three-match winning streak, had the opportunity to end his wrestling career to start medical school after graduating last year. But the chance to fulfill his goal of becoming an All-American, was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“There was no doubt in my mind I was coming back,” Thomas said. “I’ve made so many friends and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t see it through and give it all I had one more time.”

On Twitter @DRice1730

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