Tomorrow night, when the No. 14 Red takes on Bloomsburg, destiny could become reality. In the final home meet of his career, senior co-captain Travis Lee will try to become the career wins record holder at Cornell.
“The program has been around for 99 years,” said head coach Rob Koll. “It’s amazing a guy from Hawaii is going to break the record. It shows how consistent and healthy he’s been. He’s had to wrestle a ridiculous number of matches.”
Lee, ranked second nationally (NWCA/Intermat poll) in the 133-pound weight class, is tied with Mark Fergeson ’93 for the all-time lead with 134 wins. Last weekend, he tied the record with two wins and lifted his season victory total to 28. Lee has only one loss this year and a mere 13 in his career. His opponent this weekend, Tony Curto, is 16-1 this season and is ranked 25th in one poll.
“I do consider [the record] a great honor,” Lee said. “There are many great wrestlers that have come through Cornell and to break the record, it’s tremendous.”
Bloomsburg is 8-5 this season and is currently ranked as high as 22nd in the nation. The Huskies are coming off a victory over then-No.25 Edinboro. Aside from Curto, the team features three nationally ranked wrestlers including James Bertulis (165-pounds), Bryce Hasseman (174), and Chad Hoare (197). The Red expects to win, but the results could be tight.
“If you look on paper, every single match could be very close,” Koll said. “We think that we’re a point better in every match, but in reality it may not go that way. There’s not single weight class, outside of Travis and Dustin, that the Bloomsburg doesn’t think it can win.”
The Red enters Saturday’s competition on a tear. Since the National Duals in January, the Red has recorded three shutouts and won a third-straight Ivy League title. Last weekend, the Red demolished Harvard, Brown, and Boston University. The team has four other wrestlers aside from Lee and junior co-captain No. 1 Dustin Manotti (149), who are nationally ranked in the top-20.
“We expect to beat those guys,” said senior co-captain Tyler Baier. “We’ve been wrestling solid and our team’s really peaking right now. There’s no reason we can’t shut these guys out as well.”
The Friedman Wrestling Center has a clock counting down to the NCAA Championships. For the Red seniors, the clock is also counting down the remaining days of their collegiate career. On Saturday, seniors Lee, Baier, Matt Bogumil, Tyler Shovlin, Andy Breiner and Ryan Gruver will bid farewell to Friedman Wrestling Center.
“This is really it,” Baier said. “This my last chance to get out in front of the Cornell crowd. A few years back, I thought, man this is taking forever. But now I don’t want that clock to go any faster. I want it to slow down. It’s starting to kick, in but its really making me appreciate being here.”
As for Lee, while he is honored to likely hold the title for most career Cornell wins after Saturday, he has his eyes set on one goal.
“[The record] is exciting, but I’m still trying to focus at the end of the year because that’s really what i want to focus on and that’s really what counts,” Lee said.
Archived article by James Rich
Sun Staff Writer