The wrestling team opened its season far from flawless at home this weekend at the Body Bar Invitational, but in the end it did get the win it was seeking.
Seniors Clint Wattenberg and Gabe Webster won their divisions at the 184-pound and 157-pound weight classes, respectively, as Cornell took the tournament with a final score of 156.5. Drexel finished not far behind, nipping at the Red’s heels with a final score of 144.5.
Despite the overall team victory and the wins from Wattenberg and Webster, the day was somewhat bittersweet for the Red. Head coach Rob Koll felt that at times the team didn’t live up to the high expectations that it has set for itself.
“I have a bit of a sour taste in my mouth,” Koll said. “But we were pretty good in general.”
That sour taste resulted from lost opportunities for Cornell that ended in six second-place finishes on the day, most notably from senior co-captain Jim Stanec.
“We found ways to lose,” Koll noted.
All-American Stanec, who has high hopes for the season, found himself at the losing end of the finals of the 174-pound weight class. After taking an early lead, he fell 3-2 to Gerald Harris from Cleveland State. Stanec had breezed through the rest of the competition and even “controlled the match” against Harris, according to Koll. Eventually, he fell just short.
Wattenberg dominated his matches, easily beating Virginia’s Jimi Massey 11-3 in the finals. Webster faced off with teammate Andy Tieben in the finals and pulled out a difficult 3-2 victory over the junior.
Also impressive was freshman Travis Lee, who was taking part in his first collegiate action this past weekend. Lee managed to get into the finals, where he finally ran into competition he couldn’t beat in the form of Cleveland State’s Rocco Mansueto. Mansueto took the lead with seconds remaining in the match to steal a 2-1 victory. Despite the late loss, Koll praised his freshman.
“He was tremendous,” he said. “We had high goals for him when he came here.”
But when asked if he had been pleasantly surprised by anything his team did, Koll was quick to respond. “Doing well is not really a surprise from any of the guys on the team,” the coach said.
In the end though, Koll understood his team had gotten an important win and that it was too early in the season to try to make serious assumptions on the team’s performance.
Cornell next travels to Chapel Hill, N.C. to compete in the Sharpie Open this Saturday.
Archived article by Charles Persons