This past weekend, the wrestling squad used Las Vegas as a backdrop to maintain its status as a national contender when it managed to pull out a 10th place finish at one of the most competitive tournaments in the country.
The Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational — “the toughest tourney in the country right now,” according to head coach Rob Koll — saw fit to invite the Red for its third tournament of the year and certainly one of its toughest all season.
Cornell faced powerful squads from Lehigh, Edinboro, Michigan, Nebraska and West Virginia as well as Ivy competitors Brown and Harvard.
The tournament offered an excellent chance to test a number of wrestlers against the country’s best.
Junior co-captain Clint Wattenberg finished exceptionally well once again, taking third place in the tournament in the 184-lb division. The result, however, was somewhat disappointing for the team, as Wattenberg had a chance to advance to the finals before losing a last-second decision to Lehigh’s Rob Rohn.
“The only match [Wattenberg] lost, he gave away,” said Koll. “It cost him a shot at the finals, but he won’t make the same mistake again.”
Several other wrestlers also brought home some outstanding results, with senior co-captain Jim Stanec and junior Byron Warner taking fifth place in their divisions. Stanec placed in the 174-lb division, Warner in the 141-lb.
“Warner did a fantastic job,” Koll commented, “and Stanec was consistent again.”
Koll also praised freshman Travis Lee once again, who just missed placing in his 125-lb weight class. Lee is quickly becoming a consistent performer for the Red.
Overall, the finish bodes well for the Red, but the squad’s coach once again felt his team was just on the cusp of doing great things.
“We wanted to finish in the top 10,” said Koll. “We were close to having a fantastic tourney.”
Cornell can take solace in the fact that it’s 70.5 points easily beat out Ivy rivals Harvard and Brown, but the point total still placed the team well behind tournament winner Michigan, which scored 163.0 points.
“We’ve wrestled well,” Koll said. “But we want to do better than well.”
Cornell hopes to continue its quest for national prominence when it heads to the Midlands Tournament in Chicago after Christmas. Until then, the squad will try to get healthy and learn from the mistakes it made over the weekend.
While Koll accepted that his team is still working out the kinks early in the season, he admits there is more than one way to learn from a tournament. “Defeat is overrated,” the coach explained. “It’s just as easy to learn from victory as it is from defeat.”
Archived article by Charles Persons