Fresh off its third consecutive Body Bar Invitational victory, the wrestling team will travel to State College, Pa., to compete in the 2007 Nittany Lion Open on Sunday morning. The event will feature 60 teams from all over the East Coast, including the host, No. 6 Penn State, as well as Michigan State, Navy, Lehigh, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Penn, among many others.
“This is a great tournament because of the sheer number of wrestlers,” said head coach Rob Koll. “Each team has atleast two or three great wrestlers so our guys will certainly be challenged.”
Since the event is only an individual competition and team scores are not kept, Koll decided to rest a number of his starters to give them extra rest in preparation for the dual meet season. For instance, junior Jordan Leen and senior Zach Hammond will stay on East Hill to rest while sophomore Adam Frey will sit out to rest his slightly torn deltoid muscle.
“This event isn’t really that important,” Koll said. “So we’re going to keep some guys home so they can stay healthy. The guys will have to wrestle six or seven matches in a day down there, so it will be a great opportunity to see what kind of condition the guys are in.”
Furthermore, since junior All-American Troy Nickerson is out for the season with a torn labrum, freshman Frank Perrelli will have big shoes to fill in the 125 pound weight class.
“Anytime you replace a kid who was No. 2 and No. 3 in the nation the last two years with an 18-year-old who placed fifth in New Jersey last year, there is going to be somewhat of a dropoff,” Koll said. “Frank is very inexpereinced but he is a great worker and a tough kid.”
Throw in the absence of junior All-American Josh Arnone, and the Red will be featuring one of the youngest and most inexperenced lineups it has started in years.
“A lot of the younger guys will get an opportunity to prove themselves this weekend,” Koll said.
The tournament, however, will also be an opportunity for two dominant Cornell wrestlers to prove themselves against some of the most talented wrestlers in the nation. Junior All-American Steve Anceravage and freshman Mack Lewnes are both undefeated so far this season, earning wins over their respective Wisconsin opponents in the Nov. 16 dual match as well as individual titles at the Body Bar Invitational one day later. But according to Koll, since there are so many teams in the event and most squads are bringing multiple wrestlers for each weight class, the individual weight class brackets will be very deep and tough to beat.
“The tournament will be good for those guys because they will finally be challenged,” Koll said. “They really have one all of their matches pretty easily this year. I’m very confident they can compete with anyone in the country.”
Despite the lack of experience, Koll believes that when his team is fully healthy, the Red could outperform last season’s twleflth place finish at the NCAA tournament.
“When we get Frey and Arnone back, I think we will have a better dual meet team than last season,” Koll said. “We have six kids who are ranked top-8 in the country, so we’re still doing pretty well.”