The Big Red wrestling team began its season on Saturday with the result it was looking for — a win over a talented field in the opening event of the season, the Cornell Invitational.
Cornell’s squad has many more young faces than in previous years, but the freshmen on the team came through for the Red, earning points to complement first place finishes by sophomore Tom Waldron at 141 pounds, senior Alex Berman at 157, and senior tri-captain Corey Anderson at 197.
The Red topped the overall team leaderboard with 135 points. Cornell head coach Rob Koll’s alma mater, North Carolina, was the runner-up with 121. Drexel took third with a total of 109 points. Army (78), Appalachian (60.5), and Ithaca (29) rounded out the rest of the standings.
Despite the first place finish, Koll was not entirely content with the performance of his troops.
“There was some good and some bad,” he commented. “I thought the young kids did a nice job. Some of the older kids were not as impressive as I would have liked them to be. Conditioning looked decent. We’ve got a lot of things to work on, but that’s why we have these early season tournaments.”
Two performances by freshmen particularly impressed Koll. Graham Morin reached the finals in the 165 pound weight class, defeating some tough competition along the way. Meanwhile, Alejandro Alvarez took third at 125 with an 8-4 decision over UNC’s Chris Collins. Collins actually pinned Alvarez in Alvarez’s first collegiate match earlier in the day, so the win in the finals of the consolation bracket was doubly rewarding.
“That felt good, because after I got pinned, I was disappointed. I don’t think I wrestled good throughout the whole tournament, but the last match I wrestled good,” Alvarez said. “Where I came from, I used to have hard matches, but it was toward the end. Normally in the beginning, I had easy matches, that’s why I lost the first one, I wasn’t ready, but overall, it was a good experience.”
Senior Jim Stanec turned in an impressive performance as well. He came in third at 174 pounds, losing to the seventh-ranked wrestler in the country, Army’s Maurice Worthy.
“I thought [Stanec] outwrestled him,” Koll praised.
The team win was sweetened for Koll on a personal level by being able to defeat his old school. The final continues an unbeaten string for Cornell against the Tar Heels under Koll’s reign as head coach.
“It’s always gratifying, I know the coach there very well, and I know he thoroughly expected to beat us, there was no doubt about that,” Koll said. “I’m not going to deny taking a little extra pleasure in knocking the Tar Heels off.”
Archived article by Alex Fineman