I’d love to say something sentimental about the unfortunate ending to the men’s hockey team’s season, but I’m all about hope and I think it’s time we moved on. Or at least moved on to other reflections of the Cornell winter athletic season. It was an unusually warm winter here in Ithaca (right up until now, of course) and Cornell’s winter sports seemed to have adopted that hot streak as their own.
There were four events which I thought were particularly significant in the 2001-2002 winter season that could serve as redemption for any hockey fan’s mournful woes. I am choosing four for the sake of brevity, so if I have left any out I am sorry, but I have my favorites. They are:
1. Women’s basketball’s rise to Ivy League prominence.
The February 22 double overtime, last second, two-point loss to Harvard was the most exciting event for Cornell thus far in 2002. Yes, I know hockey went to NCAAs and President Rawlings is leaving. If you were there, you understand. If you weren’t, chances are you know someone who was; ask them, they understand.
It wasn’t just the game itself but the uncharacteristic non-Lynah enthusiasm and energy in Newman Arena that night that made it such a significant moment. It was the biggest game in the program’s history and provided enough heart stopping moments for three trips to Lake Placid.
Although the team ended its season on a rather anticlimactic slide, the momentum and excitement gained from the phenomenal performance of the women’s basketball team leading up to and throughout that game will remain with the program and any fan lucky enough to be there that night for a long time to come.
Senior captains Do Stevens and Breean Walas led the charge all year long and will not soon be forgotten for their contributions to the historic season.
2. Wrestlers Travis Lee and Clint Wattenberg earn All-American honors.
In one of the finest dual performances in Cornell wrestling’s history, Lee and Wattenberg became only the third set of teammates to ever be named All-American this past Saturday.
Wattenberg, at 185 lbs., might have claimed an even higher national result if not for a blown call in his overtime quarterfinal loss. To make his sixth place finish particularly bittersweet, Wattenberg watched as a wrestler he had defeated at the East regional finals claimed the top spot at Albany.
By finishing seventh in the 125 lb. weight class Lee made all sorts of history. His valiant performance made Lee the first-ever Hawaiian wrestler to claim such an honor, along with Cornell’s first freshman All-American.
Both wrestlers return for the Red next season and are worth looking at when the 2002-2003 campaign approaches.
3. Women’s track wins the Heptagonals.
Talk about dominance. After falling behind on the competition’s first day, Cornell’s runners came out with a vengeance on Saturday and Sunday to claim the Ivy League’s most sought after indoor track event.
Led by junior Katy Jay and senior Lena Mathews, the Red earned seven All-Ivy nods for the competition.
With its 113 total at the event, the Red edged out Harvard by a twelve point margin, while stomping on third-place finisher Princeton by 44 points.
Jay was also named Athlete of the Meet for the weekend, coming in first in both the 200 and 60 meter dashes.
It was the first time that the women’s team had won the competition since 1995, and after a strong start to the spring season this Cornell team shows no signs of slowing … literally.
4. Gymnastics’ constant improvement.
Every week since Winter Break, we at the Sun have enjoyed following the consistent and dramatic improvement of our gymnastics team week after week.
After claiming its first Ivy League Invitational title (the de facto Ivy League gymnastics championship) the Red never looked back.
At the beginning of the season the team had set a goal for itself: breaking 190 points. The mark is an elusive number in team gymnastics and Cornell looked to break the mark for the first time in its 2001-2002 season.
After setting a team record at 190.450 in a loss to Rutgers on March 2, Cornell went on a tear that saw it break that mark and set a new team record on three consecutive weekends.
The final mark of 192.575 was set when Cornell cashed in its finest performance in school history at the ECAC championships this weekend. The Red placed an incredible third after never having placed higher than sixth in the tournament’s history.
Yes, my gracious reader, there are some pretty incredible things going on around this place that don’t involve sticks, blades, and resignations. Keep that ear to the proverbial grindstone (or just simply read this wonderful piece of art we call the Cornell Daily Sun) and maybe next year you won’t be caught putting all your little eggs in a rink-shaped basket.
Archived article by Scott Jones