March 14, 2003

Grapplers Send Eight to NCAAs

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While some students lift weights and shed pounds before spring break, the usual routine will continue a bit longer for some, as they prepare themselves for one last contest. Next weekend, eight of Cornell’s finest will travel to Kansas City as they take part in the NCAA wrestling championships.

Leading the Red’s tournament team is a pair of All-Americans, sophomore Travis Lee and senior Clint Wattenberg. Both grapplers have already been to NCAAs, where they finished seventh and sixth, respectively, last year. Wattenberg and Lee have also laid the foundation for solid tournament runs with their regular season performances. Lee will be something of a marked man, however, as he takes his perfect 29-0 record on the road.

Several other grapplers also earned tournament experience last season, as juniors Alejandro Alvarez, Matt Greenberg, and Scott Roth, and senior Gabe Webster all qualified for last year’s NCAA championships.

Greenberg is no stranger to the national stage, as he was one of three Cornellians to advance to the second round of last year’s tournament. Only a sophomore at the time, Greenberg took on Lehigh’s All-American Jon Trenge. While the Red matman struggled against Trenge then, he has since gone on to hold his own against him. The two last met during last weekend’s EIWA finals — where Trenge scored a 4-1 victory — but won’t see each other again unless both go far in the tournament.

Webster also had a convincing tournament run last season. After losing to third-seeded Luke Becker, Webster came back and scored a 19-4 win in the consolation bracket.

Newcomers to NCAA competition are freshman Dustin Manotti and junior Tyler Baier. Both finished third in the EIWA tournament, earning wildcard spots.

Baier went 23-9 in the regular season, and faced plenty of national contenders. The junior’s numbers, however, hide the full story. Out of Baier’s nine losses, seven were to nationally-ranked opponents, while six were decided by three points or less.

Manotti also did well for himself during the regular season, going 26-6. The Red rookie was a giant slayer during the 2002-03 season, defeating six nationally-ranked opponents throughout the season. Backing up Manotti’s No. 9 national standing are one pin and five technical falls.

Regardless of previous postseason experience, there is room for all eight to advance in the 330-wrestler field. The NCAA tournament begins Thursday March 20th, and runs through the 22nd.

Archived article by Matt Janiga