It was a bittersweet weekend for the wrestling team at the NCAA Championships in Iowa City, Ia., March 15-17.
Senior Jim Stanec placed seventh in the 174 pound bracket to earn All-American honors but outgoing tri-captains Leo Urbinelli and Corey Anderson couldn’t match his feat, falling instead in the latter stages of the tournament’s consolation bracket.
Sophomore Tom Waldron, Cornell’s fourth wrestler at the NCAAs, lost his first match in both the championship and consolation brackets.
“I was disappointed we couldn’t get a couple of [All-Americans],” reminisced head coach Rob Koll.
After suffering a loss to Oklahoma’s Tyrone Lewis in his first match, the unseeded Stanec bounced back in the consolation bracket, winning his next three bouts. Then after a loss to No. 8 Natan Coy of Oregon, he thumped Nebraska’s No. 12 Ati Conner in the seventh-place match to grab coveted All-American status.
“He had one of the most difficult roads [to All-American] I’ve ever seen,” Koll said, describing how Stanec had to tackle the No. 4, No. 7, No. 8, and No. 12 wrestlers in his class.
“He had a long way back [from the first-round loss] with a lot of tough kids,” Koll continued. “He wasn’t seeded so he wasn’t supposed to be anywhere there.”
Stanec, competing in the NCAAs for the first time in his career, admitted that he wasn’t fazed by the daunting task that lay ahead of him after the first-round defeat.
“I’d been there before,” he said, referring to how he managed a similar result at the Las Vegas Open earlier this season. “I took it one match at a time.”
As for Stanec’s teammates, the weekend saw Urbinelli, Anderson, and Waldron fall short in their bids for All-American medals.
Urbinelli — at 157 pounds — was the only one of the Red’s quartet to muster a win in the first round of the championship bracket, defeating Ohio’s Ryan Smith 7-5. In the ensuing contest, however, he ran into a roadblock in No. 6 Luke Becker of Minnesota, falling 6-5. Although Urbinelli did win his first consolation match, he was then finished off by Fresno State’s No. 9 Nathan Vasquez.
“Leo outwrestled his competition, but he came up on the short-end,” Koll said.
“I wish Leo had been an All-American,” Stanec said. “It was just kind of a letdown.”
Anderson, at 197 pounds, lost his first round match 11-4 to Ty Matthews of Indiana. He then defeated both Delaware State’s Leonard Bridgeworth and Michigan’s Joe DeGain before being eliminated by David Sunamon 6-2.
“I was pretty crushed,” said Anderson of his reaction to being knocked out of the tournament.
In the 141 pound class, Waldron dropped a pre-first round match and then was defeated by Clarion’s Frank Edgar in his consolation contest.
“Tom wrestled like a star-struck freshman,” Koll noted, adding, “It was not his best performance.
“I’m disappointed because I know how good he is,” he continued. “He can’t be afraid. You have to go to the mat with reckless abandon.”
Cornell finished the NCAAs in 28th-place with 12.5 points. Minnesota dethroned six-time defending champion Iowa, edging the Hawkeyes 138.5 -125.5.
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj