January 31, 2003

Grapplers Face Penn Tonight

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The Ivy League wrestling season opens tonight at 7:00 p.m. as the No. 7 grapplers take on the No. 23 University of Pennsylvania Quakers, and continues tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. as the Princeton Tigers come to town. The Penn matchup has traditionally proved to be a challenge for the Red.

“It’s going to be a barn burner,” noted head coach Rob Koll. “Every year this match with Penn comes down to the wire.”

Last year’s match saw Cornell start strong with a 6-3 lead after wins by current junior Matt Greenberg and senior Clint Wattenberg. Penn was able to turn things around however, and went on to win by a 21-9 decision. Out of the 10 matches, over half of them were decided by two points or less.

While Cornell’s pair of All-Americans, Wattenberg and sophomore Travis Lee have faired well this season, they may have their work cut out for them tonight. Wattenberg will have to face off against Eathan Bullock, who placed 6th in the 1999 Ivy league Classic, while Lee’s opponent is freshman sensation Matt Valenti.

Ranked No. 20 in the nation, Valenti boasts a 22-8 record with impressive wins including a third place finish at the U.C. Davis Aggie Open.

Besides Valenti, Penn comes to town with four other nationally ranked wrestlers. Included in the quartet is No. 8 heavyweight Matthew Feast. 18-3 on the season, Feast has been described by the coaching staff as “one of the best” in the country and should offer Cornell’s heavyweight a sizable challenge.

As for motivating his team, Koll was brief and cited that there wasn’t much of a need this week.

“You don’t need any extra motivation — the kids want to beat Penn because they don’t like Penn,” Koll said.

While the Red’s main concern will be contributing to its national ranking, tonight the team will take time to contribute to the community. For every person who enters the match, $4 will be donated to Hospice of Ithaca.

Tomorrow night’s match with Princeton also offers its own excitement as Wattenberg faces off against national finalist Greg Parker.

The Princeton senior is already gearing up for a repeat run. Just last month Parker won his weight class at the Reno Tournament of Champions and placed sixth at the annual Midlands Championships.

Earning All-American and All-Ivy honors last season, Parker also spearheads a talented and upcoming crew of wrestlers. Other notables for the Tigers include Matthew DeNichilo and Ian Roncoroni, both of whom had outstanding performances at the Aggie Invitational.

Tonight also marks the first of many inter-fraternity wrestling matches. As a promotion to fill Niemand Arena, the athletic department has put forth a wrestling challenge to the Greek houses on campus. Any fraternity member may challenge another fratnerity member to a three minute match. The Greek event will take place halfway through the actual meet.

When asked what prompted the idea, Koll was clear about his intentions.

“I want to get the fraternities and sororities out and hopefully get them hooked,” said Koll. “My goal is to have a smaller version of Lynah rink.”

The inaugural matchup features Matthew Miller from Kappa Delta Rho versus Fred Isquith from Tau Kappa Epsilon. Again, students and fans are advised to reserve tickets and arrive early as both matches are well on their way to selling out. Location for the events is the new Friedman Wrestling Center.

Archived article by Matt Janiga