Cornell may not have beaten Harvard on the ice this weekend, but the Red did take down the Crimson on the mat. The No. 5 Red picked up two victories this weekend — on Friday night over No. 24 Harvard and Brown on Saturday afternoon — each by nearly identical scores of 38-7 and 36-6. The victories allowed the Red to remain perfect in dual matches this season at 7-0 with three more matches to go.
Nobody had a stronger weekend than sophomore Chris Villalonga at 149 pounds. After losing by technical fall, 15-0, to No. 4 Donnie Vinson of Binghamton last weekend, Villalonga brought the crowd in Newman Arena to its feet in an upset victory over No. 7 Corey Jantzen of Harvard.
“Coming back from a rough weekend before, [this victory] really meant a lot to me,” he said.
Although Villalonga didn’t register any takedown or escape points, neither did his Crimson opponent. As the time on the clock wound down in the third period, Villalonga held on tightly to Jantzen to pick up the decisive riding time point to earn him the win, 1-0.
“At that point I guess you’re not really thinking about too much technically or anything,” Villalonga said about the last few seconds of the match. “It’s just the willpower of who wants it more. I just kind of dug deep and held on.”
Head coach Rob Koll said the win showed just how mental the sport is. He felt that Villalonga decided that he was tired of losing.
Villalonga did indeed credit the win to a change in mindset.
“I realized that a lot of the things I struggle with are just all mental,” he said. “Physically we train hard every day, and it’s not my strength, and it’s not my conditioning. It’s just that I didn’t have the right mental aspect. It was something I realized after talking with the coaches and the captains.”
Villalonga believes his new mental outlook helped him score another impressive victory on Saturday when he pinned Brown opponent Ricky Bailey in 2:44.
“I’ve had a few ranked opponents, and didn’t do well against them,” Villatonga said. “This was the first one that I won so that kind of got a monkey off my back. Now I know I can compete with the top guys, and that kind of loosened me up for the other match.”
Senior captains Steve Bosak, No. 3 at 184 pounds, and Cam Simaz, No. 1 at 197 pounds, also experienced sucessful weekends. Both were 2-0 during the weekend — Bosak pinning both of his opponents and Simaz pinning his Harvard opponent and winning by forfeit against Brown.
“I don’t mention [Bosak and Simaz] much because it’s expected of them, but they actually wrestled two of [Harvard’s] better kids and really dominated,” Koll said.
Among the other Cornell wrestlers, senior Frank Perrelli, No. 6 in the country at 125 pounds, like Simaz only had to wrestle once and yet picked up two wins over the weekend. He won by forfeit against the Crimson and then beat his Brown opponent.
At 133 pounds, freshman Nick Pena went 1-1. At 141 pounds, sophomore Mike Nevinger only surrendered one point, winning 16-0 (technical fall) against Harvard and 6-1 over Brown.
At 157 pounds, sophomore Ryan Dunphy was overmatched by Harvard’s No. 5 Walter Peppelman, brother of the Red’s sophomore Marshall Peppelman, losing 8-0. Sophomore Craig Eifert dropped one weight class between Friday night and Saturday afternoon. On Friday Eifert led 3-1 at 165 pounds before an injury to his opponent earned him the default victory. Saturday he wrestled at 157 pounds beating his opponent, 6-1. Senior Derek Schreiner lost, 8-4, Saturday at 165 pounds.
Freshman Billy George went 1-1 at 174 pounds. In the heavyweight division, senior Maciej Jochym went 2-0 with his victory over Brown by fall in 1:37.
Notably absent from the mat was junior Kyle Dake who normally wrestles at 157 pounds. According to Koll, Dake did not wrestle because he was still healing from a pulled hamstring suffered about two weeks ago. The coach did say that Dake would have been available in an emergency.
Up next for the Red is a trip to Ames, Iowa, for a matchup against the No. 16 Iowa State Cyclones on Sunday at noon.