The wrestling team hits the road again this weekend to face league rivals Harvard and Brown. Besides looking to regain its No. 6 spot in the national polls, the team will also be hunting for Cornell’s first outright Ivy wrestling title since 1995.
Cornell last traveled to Harvard during the 2000-01 season, eventually losing to the Crimson 28-13. At the time, Harvard earned two pins and managed to knock off senior Clint Wattenberg, then the top-ranked wrestler in the EWIA. It was also a tough day off the mats, as Harvard fans showed up en masse.
“I was called just about every derogatory name I’ve ever heard,” said head coach Rob Koll. He went on to note that it wasn’t the name calling that hurt him.
“It was the loss,” Koll said.
Things should be different this time for the team. Harvard no longer boasts the same roster they did in 2000, and has since lost a slew of seniors including All-American David Rechul to graduation. Jesse Jantzen, however, is still with the Crimson.
A third-place finisher at NCAA’s, Jantzen will be taking on Dustin Manotti in tonight’s 149-pound match. With both wrestlers owning spots in the current polls, this match has also drawn a national spotlight, being billed by several wrestling news services as the match of the week.
Koll was especially enthusiastic about this opportunity, noting that Jantzen would provide a “great challenge” for Manotti.
“This kid is probably the best mat wrestler in the country right now,” Koll said. “It’d be a great win for Dustin if he could knock him off.”
Besides Manotti, the Red’s lineup should feature the usual suspects. An added bonus for Cornell will be the return of sophomore All-American Travis Lee. The 125-pounder has encountered knee problems since the national duals earlier in the season.
Besides defeating Harvard, the grapplers will also have to make their way past Brown tomorrow if they hope to stay on top of the Ivy League. Still, with Brown sporting injuries and coming off of a loss to Penn, the coaching staff is remaining optimistic about the match. Above all, assistant coach Derek DelPorto stressed each wrestler’s motivation as the reason they should come home with a title this weekend.
“There’s not 10 other kids in the Ivy League that work as hard,” he said.
Archived article by Matt Janiga