It would be wrong to say the wrestling team hoped to win the Ivy title this weekend. No, the grapplers didn’t hope for a title, they expected it.
Cornell came into the weekend ranked seventh in the country with a 3-0 Ivy record, including a solid victory over perennial contender Penn. That meant its Ivy season came down to one final weekend of competition.
Standing in the Red’s path were foes Harvard and Brown.
The team out-muscled Harvard on Friday, 23-13, and completed its task on Saturday, dispatching Brown 33-3.
“It’s a relief more than anything else,” said head coach Rob Koll. “If we hadn’t beat those guys, I would have been crushed.”
The weekend didn’t start out too easily of the Red, though. In its first match against Harvard, heavyweight senior Buck McLamb suffered a tough overtime loss on a questionable call. The ref penalized him for a slam, and what would have been a take-down and a Cornell win ended up as a 5-4 loss.
“He deserved a win,” noted Koll.
The victory gave Harvard some energy, though, and it fought the Red hard for the next seven matches.
Cornell sophomore Travis Lee returned from his knee injury to earn a major decision for the Red and run his record to 24-0 for the year. The two teams split the next six contests to bring the contest to a 13-13 deadlock with two matches left.
“It should have been a blowout,” said coach Koll, “but they wrestled well and kept it close.”
Fortunately for Cornell, it faced the Crimson with No. 2 Clint Wattenberg and No. 19 Matt Greenberg in the last two matches.
Wattenberg dominated on his way to a 6-1 win and Greenberg clinched a victory for the Red with a pin at the end of the second.
On Saturday, the grapplers dismantled Brown 33-3, winning all but one of the matches on their way to the Ivy Championship.
The title is Cornell’s 24th overall. It’s the team’s third title in the last five years, but the first outright title since 1995.
“It’s gratifying,” said Koll. “It’s going to be enjoyable for the next 365 days when people ask how we’re doing in the Ivies.”
With its Ivy League business done, the Red will host East Stroudsburg this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the Friedman Center.
In the meantime, the team will be getting ready for the EIWA Championships on March 7 and 8 at the Friedman.
“Now we’re just trying to keep [the wrestlers] healthy and sharp,” said Koll about the team’s preparations for the big match.
Cornell is looking for a win, he explained.
“We want to place all 10 guys,” he said. “There’s no other team that has as good a chance of doing that as we do.”
Archived article by Matt James