The No. 16 wrestling team put up a valiant fight against No. 11 Missouri yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Cornell, though, the team’s relative inexperience coupled with Missouri’s overwhelming talent and home court advantage eventually proved to be too much. The Red fell 21-13 in Columbia, Mo. Although Cornell secured a 13-10 advantage through 174 pounds, Missouri’s No. 4 ranked wrestlers at 184 and 197 pounds each earned major decisions over their Red opponents to lock up the victory for the Tigers.
“We had some great performances today and I am very pleased with our overall team effort,” said head coach Rob Koll. “But at the end of the day, we just didn’t pull out enough of the close matches to get the win.”
Despite the loss, which drops the Red’s dual match record to 1-5, Koll remains staunchly optimistic about his team’s chances to perform exceptionally at the NCAA championships in March.
“[Missouri] has a really good team,” he said. “For us to be that close to pulling off an upset with two of our key starters out of the lineup shows just how close we are to being a great team. … If I wanted to schedule average teams, or even good teams, in dual meets we could be 6-0 right now. But that wouldn’t help us prepare for what really matters, which is Nationals. … All of the teams we’ve lost to will be ranked in the top-10 at the end of the year, including two teams [Iowa and Penn St.] who were ranked No. 1 in the nation when we wrestled them. Losing to these teams is nothing to be ashamed of.”
The Red grapplers jumped out to a fast start, with senior Mike Rodriguez coming from behind to defeat Missouri’s John Olanowski at 125 pounds. Olanowski held a 4-1 advantage after the first period but Rodriguez stormed back with an escape and a takedown in the second period as well as a three-point nearfall and riding time to earn the 8-4 win.
No. 3 ranked freshman Mike Grey continued his winning ways against the Tigers’ Nick Velliquette at 133 pounds. Grey utilized six takedowns over the course of the match and an advantage in riding time to earn a major decision and a 7-0 lead for the Red.
Freshman Eric McGill filled in for All-American sophomore Adam Frey at 141 pounds (who missed the required weight for the match) and proceeded to lose to Missouri’s Marcus Hoehn, 9-3. Classmate D.J. Meagher also stumbled at 149 pounds, where he wrestled No. 15 Josh Wagner. Although the match was tight early in the second period, Meagher’s inexperience eventually doomed the freshman as Wagner used three takedowns, two nearfalls and an escape to rack up a crucial 14-3 major decision and tie the match at seven.
“They were just too inexperienced out there,” Koll said.
No. 6-ranked All-American junior Jordan Leen made a successful return to the mat against No. 14 Michael Chandler after a six-week hiatus due to an ankle injury. After a scoreless first period, Leen seized a lead that he would never relinquish with a reversal and an illegal hold from Chandler, eventually winning a 4-2 decision to give Cornell the lead back, 10-7.
This set up the decisive match at 165 pounds between No. 4 ranked freshman Mack Lewnes and Missouri’s No. 2 ranked Nicholas Marable. The Missouri grappler took down Lewnes to seize a two-point lead early in the first period, but Lewnes escaped to make the score 2-1. After both wrestlers earned escapes over the next two periods, Lewnes could not mount a successful attack and Marable narrowly escaped with a 3-2 victory to tie the overall match at 10.
“I thought Mack outwrestled him the whole match,” Koll said. “All [Marable] was doing was backing up and he never got penalized for stalling. … I think if they were wrestling at Cornell we would have won that one. … And as soon as Mack lost, I knew we were in trouble because Missouri had their best guys coming up.”
No. 10 ranked junior Steve Anceravage put the Red in front once again by defeating the Tigers’ Brock Wittmeyer at 174 pounds. Anceravage jumped out to an early lead with three takedowns in the first period and held off his opponent the rest of the match to earn a 6-3 win.
The Red could not hold off the Tigers’ late charge, however, as sophomores Michael Moore and Taylor Moore each lost major decisions to their Missouri opponents at 184 and 197 pounds, respectively, to seal the Red loss.
No. 10 ranked senior Zach Hammond then took No. 13 Mark Ellis into overtime, where Ellis earned an escape and the official disallowed Hammond’s last second takedown. As a result, Hammond dropped a 2-1 decision and Missouri took the dual match 21-13.
Citing the return of Frey and All-American junior Josh Arnone at 184 pounds, who will be fully recovered from off-season shoulder surgery, Koll reiterated how much he is looking forward to next weekend’s match against Hofstra.
“Hofstra might be better than Missouri and I’m confident we’re going to win,” he said. “All we need is six guys to win their matches for us to win as a team and, with Frey and Arnone coming back, we have six great, great wrestlers. … I just have too much to be pleased about with our team to be upset about this loss. We’re poised to make a great run.”