November 25, 2002

Grapplers Start on Right Foot at Invite

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The 17th ranked wrestling team started off its 2002-2003 season in style as it won the Body Bar Invitational Saturday at Newman Arena. Cornell finished with 171 points edging out 15th ranked Edinboro (162) for the top spot. Oregon (112.5), Army (98), Virginia (97.50), Drexel (93), Sacred Heart (93), Ithaca College (36), and American University (22.5) rounded out the rest of the schools which competed in the tournament.

The Red was particularly strong as a team. Out of the 10 weight classes, Cornell had eight wrestlers make the finals in their divisions. Of this group four members, Senior captain Clint Wattenberg, sophomores Travis Lee and Tyler Baier and freshman Dustin Manotti, were eventual champions.

The tournament was also sweet as several members of the squad triumphed over nationally ranked foes, especially in the 149-weight class and the 157-weight class.

“Overall we wrestled really well, we had good performances all around,” said Wattenberg of the squad’s effort.

Wattenberg showed why he is among the nation’s elite in the 184-pound class. He had little trouble disposing of his opponents landing two pins, a technical fall, en route to the final where he scored an 18-8 victory over Edinboro’s Alex Clemson.

“I just went out and tried to control the match,” said Wattenberg. “I didn’t wrestle flawless, as the season goes on I need to cut down on mistakes but it was a good start to the season.”

Lee, who along with Wattenberg has also been ranked among the top 10 in various polls, easily dispatched the four wrestlers who faced him. He lived up to what Wattenberg called, “national champ level wrestling,” notching two falls and two technical falls on his way to taking the title in the 125-pound division.

Baier, wrestling in the 174-weight class, posted a perfect 3-0 record on the day, defeating Drexel’s Carl Schmidt 7-2 in the final. Manotti, wrestling his first collegiate tournament for Cornell at 149 pounds notched three wins before going on to tally a huge victory over ninth-ranked Phillip Simpson of Army, 7-5. Even though the score was close, Manotti controlled the tempo for most of the match.

“I just went out there and wrestled as hard as I could,” Manotti modestly claimed. “It was a good feeling to win.”

Cornell also had four runner-ups in the tournament. Leading the way was junior Alejandro Alvarez, a returning NCAA qualifier in the 133-weight class from last season. Alvarez scored three wins including two over higher seeds before falling to ninth-rated Shawn Bunch of Edinboro, 7-3.

In the 157-pound class sophomore Joseph Mazzurco had a phenomenal day defeating two nationally ranked opponents: 15th-ranked Tony Overstake of Oregon and 11th-ranked Tim Foley of Virginia 10-7 and 7-6, respectively. He eventually fell another nationally ranked opponent, Jeremy Connor of Army in the final.

Beyond Alvarez’s and Mazzurco’s efforts, junior co-captain Scot Roth scored three wins in the 165 division, including two by technical fall before falling in the finals to Edinboro’s Matt King, ranked 11th in the nation.

Senior Matt Greenberg had two pins and a win over 10th-ranked David Shunamon of Edinboro as he made his way to the final. There he lost a close match to Drexel’s Chris Jones.

In the other two classes where Cornell did not make it to the finals, Cory Ace of Edinboro won the 141-pound division, while John Paxton of Army won the heavyweight division.

Cornell will return to action next Saturday as its heads down to North Carolina to compete in the Sharpie Open.

Archived article by Chris Callanan