Last weekend the Red came back to the hill to face off against two very different competitors: UPenn and Oregon State.
On Saturday, Cornell scooted past Penn, 24-9, in a packed Friedman Wrestling Center with tough matchups, which, according to head coach Rob Koll, were not reflected in the final score.
“[Penn] was a lot tighter than the score [showed]. I knew we were mildly favored in a few matches, but with two overtime matches, if we had lost two of those, then it’s really, really tight,” Koll said. “[Senior] Stryker Lane was out of the lineup, so it was nice that the kid who was his backup did a nice job. [Penn has] a very good team. Between Cornell and Penn, the winner has gone on to win the Ivy title for the last 26 years.”The day ended with seven wins out of a possible 10 for Cornell, including victories from senior three-time national champion and captain Kyle Dake, freshman Nahshon Garrett, sophomore Bricker Dixon, junior Chris Villalonga, junior Jesse Shanaman, senior captain Steve Bosak and sophomore Jacob Aiken-Phillips.“I like wrestling here [at Friedman],” Koll said.On Sunday, Cornell faced off against Oregon State, failing to get momentum from the depths of its roster to close the day with a win. Instead, the Red fell to the Beavers, 23-20, in front of a crowd of around 3,100 fans.“We knew we had a tough weekend ahead of us, and both teams are very competitive. The only difference is we don’t wrestle against Oregon State very often, and their style is a little bit different,” Dake said.The dual came down to a tie going into the heavyweights, but Cornell just could not grasp some crucial opportunities. It failed to add another “W” to the season tally.“Wrestling is about matchups and we had some of our very best guys matchup up against some of their weaker kids. Our very best are as good or better than anyone in the country. We just didn’t have matchups with our best kids and their best kids,” Koll said. “It didn’t work that way. We ended up losing as far as the number of matches we won. I knew on paper that we weren’t favored in 133, 141, 149, 157, 174 was a tossup and [not at] 197. That’s seven matches that we weren’t sure [about] and we won four [out of the seven].”Coming out of the loss to the Beavers, the Red has been preparing all week with training and lots of practice to head into this upcoming weekend with the team heading on the road to face Hofstra at1 p.m. and Columbia at 6 p.m. on Saturday.“Our biggest issue right now is to continue to get better on bottom. We have put a lot of time into that, and will continue to work on it,” Dake said.Improving in that regard will give an edge at Nationals.“It was a tough loss, but our thoughts are on Nationals and we still have plenty of time to improve and focus on that,” senior Joe Stanzione said.Koll said that although some players will have tough competition heading into the weekend, individually each player seems prepared for the upcoming challenge.“Chris Villalonga at 149, has a really good matchup [ahead] at Columbia as does Jesse Shanaman. Those are probably their two best kids. They have seen these guys before. The boy that Chris is wrestling, he has beaten that kid before, [Villalonga] beat him last year. Both wrestlers are ironically, very similar, they go very hard and wear you out. What I am looking forward too, is that this week we have had a full week of training … I am hoping they will feel more rested and be a little quicker.”Two matches in one day comes with its own set of challenges, both mentally and physically. The team will travel from one competition straight to the next, which could be a problem if the first one against Hofstra does not go well. Cornell will then have to head to Columbia to take on the Lions straight from the last.“This weekend we wrestle two matches back to back, which is really hard to do. We should win both matches. It’s really hard to due [two], physically. If you lose, now you are feeling sorry for yourself. Now you have to hop on a bus and go and wrestle in the city in a little tiny gym,” Koll said. “It’s a hard place to wrestle. Even though we should come out with dual meet victories individually, they are some really important matches this weekend.”After this weekend, Cornell will go up against Bucknell on Feb. 10 for Senior Night at Friedman before heading away for the National Duals mid-month and then on to NCAA Championships in March.“I’m looking forward to the National Duals and to starting the journey towards NCAAs,” Dake said.
Original Author: Haley Velasco