Thirteen teams may have gathered in Annapolis, Maryland, this weekend for the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championship, but there were only two real contenders for the title — No. 14 Cornell and No. 4 Lehigh. In the end, a mere two and a half points separated these heavyweights with the Red coming up on the short end, 133.5 to 131.
“We wrestled really well and so did [Lehigh],” said head coach Rob Koll. “Everyone wrestled up to or over their seed. I was pleased and any disappointment I felt can be made up at nationals.”
The Red was led by a triumvirate of senior individual champions, including co-captain Travis Lee, co-captain Tyler Baier, and Joe Mazzurco. Cornell found success across the board, taking home three second-place finishes, a third place, and two fourth places. All totaled, nine Red grapplers qualified for the NCAA Championships.
In the 133-pound weight class championship, Lee defeated Lehigh’s Matt Ciasulli to win the fourth EIWA title of his career. The match was knotted at zero at the end of the first period of the match. Caisulli held the lead briefly after an escape in the second period before Lee took the lead for good with a take down. Up 2-1 at the start of the third, Lee racked up four takedowns and coasted to a 13-4 victory. Lee was named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Mazzurco, the No. 3 seed, cruised to victory in the 174-pound weight class championship against the No. 1 seed Andy Roy of Rutgers. Leading 2-0 in second period, Mazurco tallied two takedowns and an escape to take a 7-1 advantage. In the third, Mazzurco put the match away — recording two more takedowns and winning by major decision, 11-3.
“I expected Joe to win,” Koll said. “I was surprised how easily he beat the kid in the finals. I knew Joe was ready to step up into a higher echelon but I didn’t know he would do it in such a dominating fashion.”
Baier defeated Josh Glenn of American to win the 184-pound weight class title. Baier took an early 2-0 lead in the first with a single leg takedown. However, with 15 seconds remaining in the second period, Glenn scored an escape to close the score to 2-1. In the third period, Baier recorded an escape and then was awarded a riding time point to hold on for a 4-1 victory.
In the 149-pound weight class, the Red nearly had another individual champion. Junior co-captain Dustin Manotti fell behind early to Army’s Phillip Simpson, trailing 6-1 after two periods. In the third, Manotti mounted a comeback. Tallying two takedowns and an escape in the period, Manotti managed to pull within a point of Simpson, 8-7. Manotti took Simpson to the mat as the buzzer sounded, but did not get points since the take down came after time had expired.
“[Simpson] is a returning All-American and third in the nation — a very talented wrestler,” Koll said. “If anything, it was good for Dustin because he’ll see him again in nationals. Without that loss, I don’t know if he’d be as fired up. He has Mt. Rushmore on his shoulder.”
Other second-place finishers included senior Mike Mormile, 125-pound weight class, and sophomore Jerry Rinaldi, 197-pound weight class. Mormile fell to Robbie Preston of Harvard, 7-5, while Rinaldi lost to Lehigh’s Jon Trenge, 4-1. Rinaldi’s loss gave Lehigh the inside track for the team title.
The Red also received strong performances from freshman Jordan Leen, sophomore Joey Hooker, and senior Tyler Shovlin. After being pinned in the first round by Patrick Simpson of Army, Leen recovered and won four straight matches to finish third in the tournament in the 141-pound weight class. Hooker, a No. 6 seed, upset No. 3 seed Chad Marzec of Army en route to finishing fourth at 165 pounds. Shovlin, a No. 5 seed at heavy weight, upset No. 2 seed Bode Ogunwole in the consolation bracket semifinals. However, he couldn’t sustain the momentum in the third-place match, falling to a fourth-place finish. Leen, Hooker, and Shovlin earned wild card berths to the NCAA Championships.
“Not only did they step up, but they’re going to national tournament,” Koll said. “Its great for Joey and Jordan because they’re young and they’ll see it many more time in their career. And it’s a fitting end for Tyler to end his career at nationals after years of frustration.”
Archived article by James Rich
Sun Staff Writer