When senior wrestler Jim Stanec was asked to describe how he felt about the team’s performance this past weekend, he didn’t need to peruse through Webster’s to find an accurate adjective.
Unadulterated anger was Stanec’s emotion of choice, and rightly so after Cornell missed out on a chance to sew up the Ivy League title when it lost to Harvard, 28-13, on Saturday.
Though the Red laid waste to Brown, 40-6, on Friday night, it will be the team’s trip to Boston that leaves a bitter taste in its mouth and disheartening visions of what could have been dancing through its head.
“I’m pretty mad,” Stanec said. “We had [the Ivy title] locked up.
“It fuels me to destroy the next person I wrestle.”
Having knocked off defending conference champion Penn earlier in the season, the Red paved itself a clear path to this year’s crown, only to have Harvard come along and set up an insurmountable road block.
“It was really disappointing,” said head coach Rob Koll. “If there was a ball used in wrestling, all the bounces would have gone Harvard’s way. We didn’t create any breaks [for ourselves].”
“We just had a bad day,” remarked Tom Waldron.
After digging itself an early six-point hole against Brown, Cornell reeled off 40 straight points to smother the Bears. Wins by Alejandro Alvarez, Byron Warner, Waldron, Gabe Webster, Leo Urbinelli, Clint Wattenberg, Stanec, and Randy Stout as well as a forfeit in the heavyweight class gave the Red its third straight Ivy win.
But any headway the Red had made in Providence quickly evaporated the next day against the Crimson.
Harvard struck in the first match of the day when Wattenberg was upset in the 165-lb class by Pat O’Donnell. And though Stanec won by disqualification in the 174-lb class, the Crimson then swiped the next four matches, accumulating a string of momentum that the Red could never overcome.
“We didn’t step up and match [Harvard’s level],” Koll said, adding, “We gave up some big points to them.
“It wasn’t as if a lot of matches couldn’t have gone the other way.”
“Harvard matched up really well against us,” Waldron noted. “Guys who could have won didn’t.”
Waldron and Stanec fared the best for the Red during the weekend, each winning both their matches. Waldron, at 141 pounds took apart nationally-ranked David Dies of Brown, 7-3. Meanwhile, Stanec cruised to a 15-5 victory over the Bears’ Karl Rittger, who was the second-ranked wrestler in the East last year.
“It was big for Tom [since] he’s a freshman,” Koll said, adding, “Stanec has wrestled tremendously all season.”
If there’s any solace to be found in this weekend’s results, it’s that the Red’s split still keeps it in a three-way tie at the top of the Ivy leaderboard, along with Harvard and Penn. A win against Princeton in two weeks would assure the Red a piece of the conference title.
And although a share of the championship may be a let down from winning it solo, Koll won’t deny that it would still be a satisfying consolation.
“It’s like kissing your sister,” he said, “but in this case she’s really hot.”
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj