February 22, 2002

Wrestlers Take Breather From Ivies

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After coming off a successful weekend that left it with a 4-1 Ivy League season and 6-3 record on the year, the wrestling team will look to keep up momentum for the all-important Eastern Championships on March 9-10 with a trio of home matches tomorrow.

The 20th-ranked Red will first host Ohio in Newman Arena at 10 a.m. The Bobcats are rolling right now and have won eight of their last nine matches, but still come in with a record that is barely above .500 at 11-10-1 (2-2 Mid-American Conference). The Bobcats wrestled in the Virginia Duals, a tough tournament that Cornell typically wrestles in, though it elected not to this year. The Bobcats fell to Indiana and Kent State there.

At noon the grapplers will go up against Binghamton. The Bearcats are unlikely to pose much of a problem for coach Rob Koll’s squad. The Red got a taste of Binghamton in the New York State Championships earlier this year, where Cornell finished a distant first and Binghamton was far back in ninth. This is the first full year in Division I for coach Mike Fusilli’s group, and they will be looking to make some kind of impression against Cornell.

Finally, at 2 p.m., Cornell will finish with its third straight match when it battles Missouri, from the traditionally difficult Big 12 conference. The Tigers are an impressive 15-2 on the season and are ranked ninth in the country. The Missouri team has some unusual ties to the area, as their coach, Brian Smith, began his coaching career at Cornell. Smith was an assistant from 1992-1997, where he helped coach the Red to 10th and 17th-place finishes in the NCAA in 1993 and 1994.

While Cornell cannot overlook its first two matches of the day, Missouri should pose the best challenge for the Red. The Tigers will be the most difficult team Cornell will have faced since a 21-10 loss to eighth-ranked Penn three weeks ago. In this match, just like the match with the Quakers, Cornell will need a few upsets from its wrestlers to earn a victory. Six of the Tigers starters will be ranked in the top 20 in their weight classes in the country. They are led by senior John Kopinsky, who is ranked eleventh in the country at the 174-lb. weight class and is 21-4 on the season.

Cornell will throw a strong lineup against the trio of teams as well (though it could start some younger wrestlers against Binghamton). Kopinsky should grapple with No. 13 senior Jim Stanec, which may be one of the most exciting matches of the entire day. At 184 pounds, ninth-ranked junior Clint Wattenberg of Cornell should wrestle Missouri’s No. 20 Dante Stone. Cornell will need to capitalize at the 125-pound and 133-pound weight classes to triumph against Missouri, meaning the Red must get good matches from freshman Travis Lee and sophomore Alejandro Alvarez.

Archived article by Charles Persons