The wrestling team opens its Ivy League schedule today in Princeton at 6:00 p.m. The weekend road trip concludes at Pennsylvania’s famous Palestra at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow.
One does not need to say too much more. The Palestra, the raucous Philly kids, and the rivalry of all rivalries: Cornell versus Penn.
These two schools are always at each other’s necks across the board, whether it be in academics, sports, or recruiting. This heated competition begins even before the combatants get to college, for both head coaches compete for the same high school wrestlers annually.
“There is not a lot of love lost between the two schools. Penn has recruited all of our guys and we have recruited all of their guys,” said Koll.
Philadelphia will host the biggest annual Ancient Eight dual. Fans of collegiate wrestling have been anxiously licking their chops over this matchup.
This weekend is of utmost importance to head coach Rob Koll and his men.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than this,” said Koll about this weekend.
It will be important for the Red to remain focused and resist the temptation to get caught up in tomorrow’s dual with the Quakers and overlook the looming Tigers.
“Princeton has a couple of strong individuals,” Koll said.
Nonetheless, everybody’s eyes will be on the Cornell/Penn dual.
It is natural for teams to look ahead to the bigger matchup. It is a trend in all sports: One team has two upcoming games and the initial one is of less significance than the latter one. And sometimes, a total collapse happens and the first game of the two game set is lost by looking ahead too far.
Koll is sure to not let his troops let this happen and has imparted some of his own mental training to his wrestlers.
“When I was competing, I didn’t care who it was that I was wrestling. If I had to tear his arm off to get the win, then so be it,” stated Koll emphatically.
Last year’s season ending standings are a clear indicator of the heated nature of this rivalry. Penn made up one third of the three-way tie for the Ivy League title, while Cornell and Harvard were the two other co-champions.
The Red narrowly defeated the Quakers, 16-15 last year. Furthermore, this annual dual is a close one every year and its winner has proceeded to become the conference champion every year since 1987. Ironically, Princeton was the last champion other than Cornell or Penn in 1986. The Red will be anxious to send the Quakers to the bitter doldrums of second place once again.
“You might as well be fifth place,” said Koll about his feelings on second place. “Second place is not something we’re thinking about right now. We expect to win every match we go into.”
The Red fully expects to escape the weekend with two victories and have a jump start on the rest of its conference foes in a race for the regular season title.
“You don’t have to motivate them [for Penn],” said Koll about his team.
Archived article by Donald Lee