December 1, 2003

Four Red Grapplers Claim Titles

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While most Cornell students went home to visit their families and eat turkey and mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving break, the wrestling team spent its time mashing opponents at the Mat Town Invitational at Lock Haven University. The Red won the tournament with 156 points, as the victory marked the team’s second first-place finish in as many weeks.

Though the victory pleased head coach Rob Koll, it did not thrill him.

“It was nice to win, but it was nothing more than we expected,” said head coach Rob Koll. “At the beginning of the year, we have certain goals and expectations, and even though we won, I thought we could have wrestled better.”

Yet, four of the team’s grapplers earned first-place finishes that helped propel Cornell to the top spot on the scoreboard. Individual champions included junior Travis Lee at 133 pounds, sophomore Dustin Manotti at 149 pounds, junior Tyler Baier at 174 pounds, and senior Matt Greenberg at 197 pounds

The most exciting match of the tourney was Lee’s 133-pound title bout against Penn State’s Josh Moore. Coming into the match, Lee and Moore were ranked first and second in the weight class, respectively, and the close match proved why. Both wrestlers fought fiercely for three periods, but Lee emerged victorious with an 11-9 decision to capture the championship. More importantly, the win solidified his No. 1 national ranking and helped him earn the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler award

“I was very pleased with Travis’s performance,” said Koll. “Moore had pinned almost everybody he’d faced up until now, and Travis really did a nice job against him in the match.”

Manotti, who entered as the tournament’s top seed after winning the Red’s Body Bar Invitational last weekend, also delivered impressive performances. He captured decisions over North Carolina’s Andrew Slack, Buffalo’s Pat Lloyd, and Rider’s Labe Black en route to his finals match. In that bout, Manotti defeated Lock Haven’s Mike Maney 6-2 to take the championship.

Baier also came into Saturday’s matches favored to win his bracket. Dominating performances throughout the day validated the ranking. After earning shutout decisions over Ryan Summers of Lock Haven and Charlie Pienarr of Slippery Rock, Baier defeated Ohio’s Ed Willis, 9-4, to advance to the title match. Baier faced second-seeded, Buffalo’s Ed Pawlak, and defeated him handily by a score of 8-4.

Finally, after disposing his opponents during preliminary matches, Greenberg found himself in a tough bout against Buffalo’s Kyle Cerminara for the title. Though lower scoring than his teammates’ final contests, Greenberg’s match was nonetheless a nailbiter, as Greenberg won by a slim margin, 5-4, at the end of regulation.

Senior Scott Roth was the only Red wrestler to reach the finals and not pull away with a championship. The No. 2 seed in the 157-pound weight class, Roth fell to top-seeded Jake Percival of Ohio in a tight 9-8 match for the title.

A pair of third-place finishes from junior Joe Mazzurco and senior Randy Stout also helped Cornell strengthen its lead during the tournament. Mazzurco entered the day seeded second in his division and earned decisions over Ohio’s Vinny DiGiovanni and Nick Rausenburger of Buffalo before falling to third-seeded Tim Foley of Virginia, 5-3. After a medical forfeit by Lock Haven’s Jason Gilligan in the consolation bracket, Mazzurco advanced to the third-place match, where he edged fourth-seeded Jeremy Reitz of Clarion, 4-3. Stout had a very successful day, going 5-1 as an unseeded wrestler in the 184 weight class. His pin at 2:42 against fourth-seeded Mike Greenberg advanced Stout to the third-place match, where UNC’s Mark Canty forfeited.

“Dustin [Manotti] wrestled great, Matt Greenberg did a great job, and so did Tyler [Baier],” said Koll. “But we also had some really nice finishes by [Joe] Mazzurco, Scott Roth, and Randy Stout. I was really pleased with all of them.”

In spite of the team’s overall finish and several outstanding performances, Koll knows that his men will have to improve as the season progresses in order to finish strongly at the NCAA tournament in March.

“Right now, we have a couple of weight classes where I expected more, but we’ll figure things out,” he concluded. “We have some good and tough freshmen and seniors competing for spots, but whoever wins will have to not only take the place, but be outstanding. Our competition next semester is against a lot of top-10 teams, and if our guys aren’t nationally competitive, they’ll lose.”

The team’s next test will come Dec. 29-30, when the Red travels to the Midlands Invitational hosted by Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.

Archived article by Everett Hullverson