Clark Kent was a big city news reporter, but for the Red, Superman is a biological engineer.
“Travis [Lee] is unique,” said head coach Rob Koll. “People see pictures of him with leis around his neck from junior nationals and high school. He’s quiet and unassuming. He’s an engineer — you expect him to be carrying a protractor with him. Then he steps onto the mat and takes off his coat and tie and there’s a Superman costume underneath.”
Comparing senior co-captain Travis Lee to a superhero may not be a stretch. In his career at Cornell, Lee has won a national championship and three Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championships. He is a three time All-American, and with an overall record of 106-12, he is on pace to become Cornell’s winningest wrestler. Currently, he is ranked first in the nation in his 133-pound weight class.
Despite all the accolades, Lee is not content to rest on his laurels. Last season, he entered the national tournament ranked first in the nation but after a couple mental blunders, he was forced to settle for fifth. With the bitter taste of disappointment in his mouth, Lee is determined to reclaim to the title this season.
“Last year, I went into the national tournament seeded number one,” said Lee. “I hadn’t lost to anyone. It was a disappointment to me to come up short. I want to prove, not so much to anyone else, but to myself, that I can be number one at 133.”
Fueling Lee’s drive for a second national title are recent comments by Purdue senior Robert Fleeger. Fleeger is ranked second nationally and vowed to avenge his loss to Lee in the 2003 national finals.
“I want to be ready for him and take it to him,” Lee said. “I don’t like to say too much. I’m more of action type of person, so I’m going to leave it to the mat and see what happens.”
Lee has not changed anything in his off-season preparations to avenge last season’s letdown. Instead, he split his time this summer working in the microfluids department at Kionix, working-out and recuperating from a grueling season.
“I put in a little extra coming into the season,” Lee said. “But overall my program is pretty much the same. Last year, I put in the right amount of time but it was just my focus at the end of the season.”
On Feb. 19, Lee will be immortalized in the form of a bobblehead doll but in March, Lee has the opportunity to enter a much greater pantheon.
“He’s the best wrestler I’ve ever seen at Cornell,” Koll said. “Dave Auble was a two-time national champion back in the 1950s and is often held up as the high water mark in Cornell wrestling. If Travis can win a national championship this year, he can stake claim to being the best ever at Cornell.”