By SHAN DHALIWAL
Wrestling is another seemingly individual sport that actually depends largely on the entire team’s success as a whole. The Cornell wrestling program knows this and is attempting to establish one group of close-knit teammates all working toward the common goal of a national title.
“This year our team motto is all in,” junior Brian Realbuto said. “I think that just kind of exemplifies the way that we’ve started to shift our team culture and we’ve started to include the younger guys into that drive and that motivation for the entire season.”
The No. 8 Red kicked off the season nicely this past weekend, defeating Drexel, 37-3, on Saturday and then taking a fourth straight New York State title on Sunday.
“I thought we looked like we were in very good shape and Ithought we looked strong,” head coach Rob Koll said. “That’s a testament to the team working hard and having a great training program.”
The Red took home five individual titles at States and nine matches in its defeat of Drexel on Saturday. Despite this success, the team knows that it will need to improve a lot more to achieve a national title.
“We’re definitely not at a spot where we’ve peaked yet,” Realbuto said. “We still have a lot [of room] to grow from here, which I think shows a lot about our team.”
Realbuto won an individual title on Sunday and also won his match on Saturday against Nick Elmer.
Three of the four freshmen that competed against Drexel won their individual matches, indicating that the new wrestlers have had a nice transition into collegiate wrestling. However, Koll emphasized that their success this weekend isn’t surprising given their successful high school resumes.
“These freshmen are just like anybody else on the team,” Koll said. “Some of these guys, even though they’re freshmen, have had probably more years under their belt than upperclassmen [and] we look at them with the same expectations as anybody.”
Both matches this weekend were on the Red’s home turf, face No. 7 University of Nebraska and No. 15 Rutgers University.
Koll emphasized that good health will be the most important factor leading to a successful weekend against these two top teams.
“Some wrestled six matches and the likelihood of being banged up is pretty high,” Koll said. “It’s like playing a couple of football games back to back … so right now we’re gonna take a day off and make sure we’re healthy for Sunday.”
All of the matches the Red plays around this time of the season are really just preparation for Ivy League competition.
“Right now it’s all practice, but we still want to win, so [we are] refining our techniques and staying mentally prepared as a team,” Realbuto said. “Going down and competing in front of the crowd at madison square garden will be exciting and I think it’s just important that we focus on getting better when we’re competing.”