Sunday night’s EIWA championship matches, held at Penn, pitted three Cornell wrestlers against some of the best competition the region has to offer. The Red wasn’t able to come away from the mat with any individual titles, but all three senior tri-captains — Leo Urbinelli, Corey Anderson and classmate Jim Stanec — will move onward to the NCAA championships.
The three finalists will also be joined by sophomore Tom Waldron, who put on a very impressive display in the fifth seed at Easterns. Waldron drew a wild-card bid to the NCAA tournament, while each finalist at the EIWAs automatically heads to nationals.
Harvard shocked the rest of the teams as it won the tournament, bypassing strong Penn and Lehigh squads. The Red finished in fourth place with 95.5 points.
“It’s better than fifth, but it’s not what we wanted to have, obviously,” head coach Rob Koll remarked.
However, Cornell did place eight grapplers in the top five of its respective weight classes, beating Lehigh’s total and tying that of the Crimson and Quakers.
The difference between the Red’s fourth-place showing and second place was a matter of pins. Anderson scored the squad’s only pin of the weekend at 197 pounds.
As the defending Eastern champion, Anderson entered the weekend seeded third in his weight class, but bumped off the number two seed, Rutgers’ Rick Romero, 4-1 in the semis. Seeking a second straight upset against first-seeded Mike Fickell of Penn, Anderson kept the match close until Fickell notched a pair of takedowns in the final period for an 11-3 victory.
Urbinelli reached the finals at 157 pounds after upsetting top-seeded Ryan Bernholz of Lehigh in a double overtime semifinal. Urbinelli’s competition didn’t get any easier, though, as he squared off against the third-ranked wrestler in the nation, Penn’s Yoshi Nakamura. Urbinelli took the Quaker to the third period tied 2-2, but Nakamura prevailed in the final frame to win, 6-2.
Stanec had an equally difficult adversary in his final match in Army’s undefeated Maurice Worthy. The top-seeded Worthy emerged victorious, 6-3.
Waldron took the alternate route to the national tournament, after being eliminated from the main bracket in overtime to a number one seed. The sophomore then eked out at 6-5 win over Tom Wysocki of Rutgers, as well as garnering a pair of wins over Brown’s David Dies, one of which came in the consolation final.
“Tom Waldron wrestled a sensational tournament,” Koll praised.
Junior tri-captain Clint Wattenberg was the only Cornellian seeded first in his weight class, but because of to knee problems that have plagued him recently, he was upset in the EIWA semifinals.
“I would have liked to have taken Clint Wattenberg,” Koll said. “He had a great year. [The injury] just changed how he wrestled, and he was never able to come back. That was disappointing, not to take him to nationals, because in the year on paper, he was our toughest kid.”
Cornell’s four representatives will travel to Iowa City in two weeks for the NCAA tournament. Urbinelli will be the only team member seeded in the top 12 of his weight class, but Koll expects positive results out of all the Red wrestlers.
“If they don’t place, they’re not coming back,” Koll joked. “It’s a long spring break in Iowa City.”
Archived article by Alex Fineman