April 21, 2006
After a six-year hiatus, Steve Garland is finally a Cavalier again. The Cornell assistant wrestling coach was named head coach at the University of Virginia in an announcement released yesterday. Garland returns to his alma mater for the first time since being named Atlantic Coast Conference Wrestler of the Year after his senior campaign when he finished runner-up at the 2000 wrestling nationals.
“When you’re working at a place like Cornell, especially with how successful we’ve been, you never think you’re going to leave,” Garland said. “When this opportunity arose in such a quick fashion, I just had to jump on it. I’d be lying to tell you that [going back to coach at Virginia] isn’t something I’ve thought about since I left. I’ve had a lot of offers in the past to coach at other places and this is the only job for which I would leave Cornell. It’s something I couldn’t pass up.”
The announcement came two weeks after Virginia head coach Lenny Bernstein resigned after 13 seasons at the helm of the Cavalier wrestling program. Bernstein’s reasons for stepping down were reportedly due to “pursing opportunities outside of coaching.”
The hiring of Garland leads to a coincidental coaching carousel that is quite unique to collegiate wrestling – Garland leaves Cornell in order to take the reigns from his former head coach (Bernstein), who was a teammate at the University of North Carolina with the man Garland has worked under for the last six seasons, Cornell head coach Rob Koll.
“We’ve been spoiled to have Steve for so long,” Koll said. “It’s no accident that we hired him six seasons ago. I saw him wrestle in college, his energy, his camaraderie with his teammates, and I knew he was going to be an outstanding coach.”
Garland, a former All-American at Virginia, just completed his fourth season as the top assistant for the Red. In his time spent on East Hill, Garland has helped Cornell on its way to finishing in the top-20 in the country five times while capturing five Ivy titles in the process. He has done it by way of recruiting, building one of the strongest lightweight wrestling battalions in the nation, as he is responsible for the development of wrestlers such as Travis Lee ’05, senior Dustin Manotti and senior Mike Mormile along with the arrival of both freshman Troy Nickerson and freshman Adam Frey.
In his college days, Garland was a three-time ACC finalist and won the ACC tournament at 125 pounds in 1997. He was a three-time NCAA tournament qualifier, accumulating 93 career wins in a Cavalier singlet. Given his accomplishments, no wonder the race to get Garland back in Cavalier colors was so rapid.
“I got called Tuesday and I was flown down for the interview Friday,” Garland said. “The negotiations then went on through Wednesday and Thursday. Everything happened in less than a week.”
Although Virginia did not qualify a single wrestler for the national tournament for the first time in 13 years, Garland takes over a Cavaliers team that is young and talented. Despite going back to his roots, Garland admits that a lot of Cornell will be taken back with him.
“I’ve worked with Rob [Koll] here at Cornell for six years and I literally showed up with a duffel bag and my All-America plaque,” Garland said. “I had no idea what I was doing. I was just a dumb kid and [Koll] took me under his wing and literally, piece by piece, transformed me into the kind of coach I am today. I’ve been a part of a system that has not only produced multiple All-Americans, not only national champions, but one that has had amazing alumni support and put on major marketing campaigns. It may sound arrogant, but I think some other head coaches haven’t had the experience of doing that. What I plan on doing is taking all of this down to Virginia, tweaking it a little, and implementing it. We call it the Cornell model.”
The decision to leave the East Hill was a hard one to make, but it seemed to be the right family choice for Garland – he and his wife English are on the fast track to becoming parents, as they are awaiting the arrival of their first child, a baby girl expected to be born any day now.
“I have a baby on the way and my wife is from the south, so she’s wanted to get back down there since we met five years ago,” Garland said.
“This is going to be great for everybody. It wasn’t just me making the decision.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls Sun Assistant Sports Editor
April 21, 2006
The equestrian team came into last year’s Ivy League championships in Hanover, N.H., looking to take home its third-consecutive Pewter Cup, given to the show’s winner. Instead, Brown rode away with the trophy and the Red was sent packing with a fourth-place finish. This Sunday at home, Cornell will get a chance to take and return the cup to what head coach Chris Mitchell feels is its proper place.
“We want the cup back,” Mitchell said. “There’s a championship cup and it’s not here right now, and it needs to come back to East Hill.”
Having failed to advance any riders to the IHSA nationals, Sunday will be the Red’s last show of the year. With all of the Ivy teams, except Harvard, competing at the championship, the show will be of smaller magnitude than most of the Red’s competitions this year and will allow over 20 riders to compete for the Cornell.
“I think we have a chance for a strong showing everywhere. I’m really excited about the Ivies [and] the girls are really excited about the Ivies,” Mitchell said. “I think all of our divisions are extremely competitive, even those [riders] who have moved up to a new division.”
While the Red will saddle many familiar faces for the event – including the dominant open fences and open flats trio of freshman Dana Kendrick, senior tri-captain Megan Gates and classmate Trudi Gullick – the championship will also see its fare share of new or unfamiliar faces. Freshman Alyse Mizia will make her Cornell debut, competing in intermediate flats, while sophomore Anna Flam will also be showing for the first time in the novice flats division.
“There’s going to be some nerves, obviously, going into the competitive ring,” Mitchell said. “But I think some of the senior athletes and the veteran athletes are going to help, calm them down and get them to do what they need to do.”
Junior Rita Mizrahi, who Mitchell had been saving to be a team rider had Cornell won its region and advanced to zones, will be riding in just her second show of the year. In 2005 Mizrahi placed third at the IHSA nationals in the walk trot division.
“She comes out and she does well every time she horse shows,” Mitchell said.
Traditionally, Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown have been among the strongest Ivy equestrian programs according to Mitchell. However, Columbia has shown signs of joining their ranks. The Lions edged the Red for third place at last year’s championships and won its IHSA region this year.
“When we saw [Columbia] at zones they weren’t very strong, but obviously they were able to sustain something during the year, so we do have to watch out for them,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell expects the bonus of riding at home on familiar horses in front of friends and family, will give his team a considerable advantage. In the seven years Mitchell has coached the equestrian team, Cornell has lost only two home shows.
“We do not lose at home,” Mitchell said. “We really stress that, and a lot of the girls feel really strongly about that.