January 25, 2002

Hawaii One-Twenty Five-O

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Freshman year is a period of adjustment for everybody.

The newbies have to get acclimated to college life, college work, new friends, Ithaca and being away from home. It’s a lot to take in at once for anyone, but even more so if you happen to be from someplace almost 5,000 miles away.

Like Hawaii.

Meet Travis Lee, 125 lb. wrestling wunderkind. The 5’4″ rookie has had an incredible run to start the season, peaking (thus far) with his winning the New York State title last week and being named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler. The unassuming-looking freshman is making more than just a tiny impression on the wrestling landscape this semester; he’s making waves.

Waves just happen to be one of the many things Lee misses about home. Well, surfing specifically. Apparently Hawaii is full of beaches, surfers, waves and something called a sun. Certainly not things you find around this part of New York.

For Lee, the transition has been extra difficult when you realize that he doesn’t get more than a handful of days to go home during the year. He managed to find his way home for a few days over winter break, but left for the mainland soon thereafter to take part in a packed wrestling schedule that saw him compete in places like Dallas and Chicago. And since Hawaii is not exactly a direct flight out of Ithaca, heading home for Thanksgiving or Fall Break is pretty much out of the question.

Still, the freshman is getting used to the place. The weather, he claims, “isn’t all that bad.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth.

His mentor, head wrestling coach Rob Koll, jokes about both the young grappler’s na