February 15, 2002

Wrestling Has Ivy Slate

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The Cornell wrestling team is looking to continue its home winning ways both today, against a surging Brown team, and tomorrow, against a talented Harvard squad. Picking up two wins is paramount and would keep the Red within striking distance of front running Penn.

“Both teams are very strong,” said head coach Rob Koll.

When Brown squared off against Penn earlier this season, it dropped the decision by a count of 24-15 but managed to win five out of ten bouts. The latter fact shows that not all of the Red’s focus should fall on the Crimson, last year’s co-champions in the Ivy League.

This weekend could bode to be the toughest weekend of the year, even more so than two weekends ago, when Cornell faced both Princeton and Penn on the road. This time around, there is an increased sense of urgency, as a slip up here will undoubtedly drop the Red out of the running for the Ivy League championship. The specter of being “mathematically eliminated” would be cast upon the Red with a loss.

“[Every] match is a must win,” Koll continued.

If the regular season title is to fall in place for the Red, Penn would have to lose to Princeton, but Koll said that this is unlikely to happen. Then again, nobody is free from the upset bug, especially in the Ancient Eight.

Koll commented, “Every Ivy League match has [a] certain amount of built in intensity. Many of the kids on both sides were recruited by all of the Ivy teams.”

At 133, Brown’s Rob Apgar is strong and managed to defeat sophomore Alejandro Alvarez earlier this year. In addition, at 285, No. 18 Bronson Lingamfelter is Brown’s other strong performer. Harvard has a solid performer at 133 with Kevin El-Hyack, who has had success thus far against Alvarez. At 149, No. 5 Jessie Jantzen and at 285, No. 12 David Rechul will pose as strong opponents for the Red.

“These are just a few of their top kids. Both teams have many fine wrestlers,” noted Koll.

The return of 141-pound junior Byron Warner to the starting lineup has the Red firing on all cylinders once again. 125-pound freshman Travis Lee, 133-pound Alvarez, 149-pound senior Chris Pirch, 157-pound classmate Gabe Webster, 165-pound sophomore Scott Roth, 174-pound senior Jim Stanec, 184-pound classmate Clint Wattenberg, 197-pound junior Matt Greenberg, and heavyweight senior Sean Wing figure to round out the rest of Koll’s starters this weekend.

This core of the team forms the basis for “a very close team and they are just starting to peak,” Koll continued to say. “They have a great attitude going into the final stretch which hopefully will make the difference in winning the Eastern title or going home with third place.”

The prudent adjustment of tapering before major events should help the Red reach their goals.

“We are very careful that we do not overwork them right before any major event,” continued Koll. “‘Burned out’ is one of the most overused excuses for not winning that I can think of. I have never had a kid who has just won a big match or a tournament come up to me and tell me that he is ‘burned out.’ The harder you work at something the more you care about the results, whether it’s a class project, a test, or in this case wrestling.”

Incidentally, Cornell will host the Hospicare Challenge again this year for the Harvard match. $4.00 will be donated to the Hospicare of Ithaca for every person who attends this match.

Archived article by Donald Lee