After months of away matches, the wrestling team is finally coming home to Ithaca. However, as the No. 8 grapplers face off against No. 4 Ohio State this Sunday at 2:00 p.m., the term “home opener” holds special meaning. Not only does Cornell kick off a three-match home stand, it does so in the newly opened Friedman Wrestling Center.
Despite the team’s previous loss to Ohio State, head coach Rob Koll has no fear of repeating last weekend’s events.
“There’s no intimidation factor,” said Koll. “We’ve already seen what’s coming.”
What is coming arrives in the form of seven seasoned veterans. Ohio State boasts six 2002 national qualifiers, including All-American and reigning national HWT champion Tommy Rowlands. OSU’s Keaton Anderson has also proved to be a national force. The senior has currently won his last 11 matches and is now 23-1 on the season.
Cornell will look for wins from the usual suspects such as junior Tyler Baier and senior Clint Wattenberg. Baier is ranked 16th in the nation and needs to move up just four more spots by the season’s end to gain a bid to the national tournament. Wattenberg, 24-1 on the season, recently returned from the NWCA National Duals, where he was named the top wrestler in Division I.
The wildcard for the Red is injured All-American Travis Lee. While off to a good start on the season, the sophomore was forced to forfeit his last four matches due to a knee injury. While Koll noted the final decision on Lee would have to be made right before the match, he also expressed his personal sentiments that the 125-pound veteran would be back in the lineup.
The coaching staff knows that Cornell cannot solely rely on its regular performers this Sunday, and will look to pull ahead in the even match-ups. Among the close losses from last week are the 141, 149 and 197 weight classes. Koll expects a few of these to fall in Cornell’s favor this weekend.
“There isn’t a guy on our team who, after we lost, didn’t feel we couldn’t win the match,” said Koll.
Despite the expected competition from the Super Bowl, the grapplers are still looking forward to a sell-out crowd. Reports from Thursday morning indicated that over 900 of the new center’s 1,100 seats have already been reserved or sold. Students awaiting the team’s home debut should plan to arrive early.
Archived article by Matt Janiga