The Cornell grapplers (3-1-1, 1-0 Ivy) begin a week stacked with Iy League opponents on Sunday when they travel to New York City to take on Columbia at noon. The Red will wrestle a second dual meet later in the day in Hempstead, NY, where it will take on the 19th-ranked team in the nation, the Hofstra Pride, at 5:00.
Cornell also will square off against Brown and Harvard later in the week, and the Red plans to use this weekend”s meets as preparation for the two stronger Ivy nemeses.
“We’re trying to get everybody ready for Harvard and Brown,” head coach Rob Koll said. “We’d love to beat Hofstra, and we’re obviously going out to beat them, but on the same token, we’re not going to risk Hofstra at the cost of Harvard and Brown. That’s why I’m resting some of the guys.”
The Red is a team decimated by injury coming off of a narrow win over defending Ancient Eight champs Penn. Junior tri-captain Clint Wattenberg (165 pounds) will miss the weekend’s action with a bad knee, as will senior Jim Stanec (174 pounds), who is recovering from ear surgery. Freshman Doug Jesse will wrestle in place of senior Sean Doyle at 133 pounds, and both junior Sean Wing and sophomore Buck McLamb are banged up at the heavyweight level.
“We’re going to have our hands full without a full squad. When you have four of your ten starters out, anybody gets tough,” Koll remarked. “I feel good with the kids we’re going to have in there.”
The Lions finished sixth at the New York State Championships, where Cornell took home second despite landing seven wrestlers in the finals. Columbia won’t be the toughest Ivy team the Red will see this year, but Cornell doesn’t want to overlook them, either.
“You don’t want to trip up against a weaker opponent,” Koll noted.
Cornell faces the added difficulty of traveling from the Levien Gymnasium, in Manhattan, to Hofstra Arena later in the day. The Pride, who finished fourth at a challenging Midlands tournament earlier in the year, will have a strong crowd at the meet to add to the pressure
“[Changing venues] is not ideal, but it also adds a lot more excitement,” Koll mentioned. “We like to wrestle in front of a crowd.”
The weekend should be a good chance for Cornell to recover from its bumps and bruises, but it also will be important to prepare the Red for its Ivy title chase.
“Obviously, you always want to start on the right foot, finish on the right foot, keep walking on the right foot,” Koll said. “It’s another chance for our guys to wrestle, to get better, to get ready for the end run. We want to get past this and get the team healthy again.”
Archived article by Alex Fineman