Despite dealing with several preseason injuries and debut rust, Cornell wrestling came out on top during a busy opening weekend. The Red was victorious on Saturday in it its first dual meet of the season against Buffalo, 18-15, and placed first overall in the New York State Intercollegiate Championships, with four individual state champions.
Through its first three matches against Buffalo, Cornell was in a 9-0 hole. However, the Red gained momentum and won its next five matches, with two-time NCAA champion senior Gabe Dean (184) capping the fifth match with a pin.
Dean’s came 27 seconds into the third period, when he put Brett Perry’s shoulders into the mat to give Cornell an 18-9 lead with just a couple matches remaining in the meet.
Dean provided the Red with a much-needed cushion, as Buffalo would claim the final two matches by decision for a final score 18-15 in favor of Cornell, which may be a deceptively small margin of victory.
When the Red lost, the margins were small; when the Red won, the margins were big. Four of Cornell’s five defeats were decided by a single point and all its decisions were won by five points or greater.
“We went 5-5, but we could have won every single match,” said head coach Rob Koll. “The ones we won, we pretty much dominated.”
Despite the victory against Buffalo, the Red was not completely satisfied with the tightly contested meet.
“[Buffalo] wrestled really hard and we wrestled really poorly,” Koll said. “A factor was that this was the first time our guys made weight.”
Because of Ivy League regulations, Cornell is not able to start wrestling as early as other teams, like Buffalo. Koll said extra preparation played into Buffalo’s strong performance.
“The more times they make weight, the better they are going to wrestle,” Koll said. “The other teams have been wrestling for a couple weeks and making weight. But I am not going to take anything away from Buffalo, they wrestled very well.”
Sunday was a new day for the Red, and Koll felt his team turned it around to capture the team’s fifth-straight New York State Intercollegiate Championship.
“[Sunday] the guys were completely different,” Koll said. “[Noah Baughman] at 125 … lost to Buffalo and came back and dominated the tournament [Sunday]. I just feel like the team looked a lot better [Sunday] than [Saturday].”
Once again, it was Dean who played a major role in powering Cornell to the victory. Dean pinned his way to a New York state title, winning all four of his matches by a fall. He is the fourth person — and second Cornellian — to become a four-time state champion in the competition’s history.
“He’s just nasty,” Koll said.
Freshman Noah Baughman (125) and sophomores Will Koll (141) and Brandon Womack (165) were crowned state champions, each for the first time.
Cornell has been missing some key wrestlers due to injury. The Red faced Buffalo without nationally ranked Dylan Palacio (No. 2 at 157), Dalton Macri (No.15 at 125) and Jeramy Sweany (No.19 at 285), as well as NCAA qualifier Owen Scott (197).
With high expectations of success, Cornell expected the results it saw over the weekend, aside from the small margin of victory against Buffalo.
Cornell in search of its 11th straight EIWA title and holds the longest winning streak in conference history. The Red looks ahead to Sunday at Madison Square Garden in New York, where it takes on Hofstra and No. 10 Rutgers.