Newman Arena was filled to capacity with thousands of screaming fans, President Skorton and his wife and ten athletes ready to prove themselves. To the surprise of many, the boisterous crowd was not there for a basketball game, but instead to watch the Cornell wrestling squad. Yesterday afternoon over 4,000 came out to support No. 2 Cornell wrestling as it faced No. 15 Iowa State.
As the announcer read the Cornell line-up for the matches, the crowd rose to its feet cheering in anticipation. In the first dual, freshman Mike Nevinger was awarded six points for a forfeit by Iowa State in the 141 pound division. After a solid start to the afternoon, sophomore Kyle Dake kept the flow moving with a win by fall in 4:44 in the 149-pound division.
Though the Red started strong, it hit a wall in the 157-pound division when senior D.J. Meagher lost to Iowa State’s Trent Weatherman. Meagher fought hard, escaping a hold in the second period before ultimately losing by fall at 4:36. This was a tough blow to the momentum in the arena, but the crowd stayed positive for freshman Craig Eifert, wrestling in the 165 pound division. The rookie stayed strong, managing to score a few points against the Cyclones before losing by major decision.
The most anticipated match up of the day came in the 174-pound division where senior Mack Lewnes — ranked No. 3 nationally in his weight class — faced off against No. 1 Jon Reader. Both wrestlers had nearly flawless records coming into the match, so each competitor had an equal chance of coming out on top. Both wrestlers started strong going for takedowns and quick escapes, but going into the third period Lewnes was down, 6-3. Refusing to give up, Lewnes escaped Reader’s hold and reversed the match to even the score, 6-6. The crowd was on its feet cheering for Lewnes to come out on top, but after a quick escape Reader won by a 7-6 decision. This was a blow to the Red’s energy in the room.
Red Man and his protégé, Red Man Jr., tried to raise the spirits of the crowd by starting chants and cheering on the remaining five wrestlers.
“I was surprised by the outcomes of some of the matches, like D.J.’s and Mack’s, but it looks like we’re picking it up and hopefully will end up on top,” he said.
No. 7 ranked senior Steve Bosak brought down his opponent in 3:34 by fall in the 184-pound division to get the Red back on track. At a formidable 197 pounds, junior Cam Simaz earned a major decision, 14-6, which brought the crowd on its feet as the referee named him the winner.
Cornell’s momentum hit a small bump when sophomore Stryker Lane lost by major decision to Iowa State in the heavyweight division. Seniors Frank Perrelli and Mike Grey in the 125-pound and 133-pound divisions, respectively, won both of their matches by major decision, earning the Red an important victory, 30-16.
Sunday was not only another win for Cornell wrestling; it also served as an annual fundraiser for the Adam Frey Foundation. An estimated 4,419 spectators came to watch the match in Newman Arena, and for every person who attended $2 was donated to the foundation in Frey’s honor.
After speaking to wrestlers and coaches who trained with Frey, the love and admiration for him was evident.
“Adam had a huge heart. It went on the mat and off the mat. In every match that he wrestled he fought and gave it his all. He did that in his life too,” said Cornell assistant coach Damion Hahn. “The foundation is going to go on and help the community. What he did especially off the mat is his greatest accomplishment.”
Fellow wrestlers also had fond memories of Frey, especially senior Mike Grey who wrestled along side of him.
“On the mat he was a freak, that’s all I can say,” he said. “I haven’t seen anyone as strong as Adam wrestling-wise. He was really special.”
Even people who did not know Frey as well, like assistant coach Matt Azevedo, are proud to carry on Frey’s legacy through his foundation. Azevedo was very willing to contribute to helping Frey’s foundation because of all the great things he had heard about him.
In addition to the successful fundraising for the Adam Frey Foundation, the team was able to depart Newman Arena with a subtle sense of confidence, still recognizing that room for improvement exists.
“I felt good, but made a few mistakes and I know what I need to work on for NCAAs,” Lewnes said.
Simaz seemed positive about the day after winning his matchup.
“I came out and wanted to put together as much offense as possible and get as many points as possible. I felt ultimately satisfied,” he said.
The matchup with Iowa State allowed the wrestlers to work out some nerves and stay focused in the wake of a crowded arena, similar to what they will face during the NCAAs.
“We want to use the momentum and carry it to nationals,” Bosak said.
Original Author: Lauren Ritter