February 9, 2004

Grapplers Beat Lions, Give to Hospice

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Saturday afternoon, Friedman Wrestling Center was packed with students eager to give their two cents to charity and anxious to watch Cornell’s wrestlers rout Columbia. The Red dominated the Lions, winning all but two matches in the 31-6 victory, and the team estimates that it will have more than $5,000 to donate to Ithaca Hospicare.

“Most Cornell students aren’t here to see sports, but I know there were over 300 students there, which is a great turnout for us,” said head coach Rob Koll. “Now I’ve got to get them out to collect the pledges. We’ll have a total by the end of the week, but we’re pleased. It turned out really nicely.”

Following the draw to see which weight class wrestled first, 125-pounder Mike Mormile took the mat to bat leadoff for the team. The match started with intense wrestling but no scores. Columbia’s Jeff Sato took Mormile into the third period without allowing a point. But Mormile scored a late takedown and added one riding point to finish with a 3-0 win.

Cornell’s defending national champion, junior Travis Lee, headed to the ring next in his 133-pound bout against the Lions’ Steve Sutton. Lee didn’t have much time to show his moves, however, as his first takedown resulted in a pin just 1:31 into the first period.

Lee, who also defeated Illinois’ No. 3-ranked wrestler Mark Jayne 7-4 in the All Star Classic last week, added the victory over Sutton to his growing list of Ws. Lee now stands 27-1 on the season and has sole possession of the No. 1 ranking in the country.

“There’s no doubt that Travis has what it takes to win the national championship. He’s looked better now than at any point in the season,” said Koll. “His weight class is arguable the toughest in the country as far as depth is concerned. There’s not one person out there who can take him out of the national championship except for himself.”

The Lions’ Anthony Constantino interrupted the Red roll in the next bout, though, by defeating Cornell freshmen Ryan Bridge, 6-5. Bridge started strongly, scoring the match’s first takedown in the first period. But Constantino escaped toward the end of the period, though, sending the match into round two with a 2-1 score. The only scoring in that stanza went in Columbia’s favor when Constantino escaped.

Entering the third period tied at two points apiece, both grapplers struggled for control. Bridge earned one point for riding time in the period, but Constantino countered with a takedown of his own. Bridge then earned an escape with 28 seconds on the clock to jump ahead one point, 5-4, but Constantino cinched the match with one final takedown in the waning seconds to come out on top 6-5.

The loss was a minor setback for the Red, and the team bounced back quickly and powerfully, taking the next six bouts from Columbia.

Sophomore Dustin Manotti defeated Erik Norgaard at 149 pounds, and senior Scott Roth beat Devin Mesanko, 4-0, in the 157-pound class to put the Red back on top. Then in the 165- and 174-pound matches, Cornell’s Dan Miracola and Tyler Baier each earned a major decision to boost the Red’s team score even further.

Miracola, a freshman, scored three takedowns in the first period of his match against Golden Baker and never looked back, adding an escape, riding time, and two penalty points to his tally, concluding the match with a 10-2 win.

Baier also dominated his opponent, Sven Hafemeister. Baier allowed only one point during the match while racking up 14 of his own.

Next, freshman Jerry Rinaldi, whose victory at Penn helped solidified the Red’s win last weekend, came up victorious again this weekend. The 184-pound wrestler recorded an escape, a reversal, and a last-minute takedown en route to his 7-2 win.

In the afternoon’s penultimate match, the 197-pound weight class, senior Matt Greenberg earned his fifth technical fall of the season over Ben Tecmire, 20-5. Greenberg capitalized on a quick first-period takedown, earning three near-fall points to close out the first period. The match went downhill quickly thereafter for Tecmire, who gave up six takedowns and one three-point takedown in the next two minutes, effectively ending the match.

Finally, though Cornell would have liked to end the match on a winner, Columbia’s heavyweight, Bart Seeman, defeated sophomore Jim March 5-2 in a close decision.

“Columbia was better than Princeton and worse than Penn. I actually thought they would give us a better fight. I was surprised at how easily our guys handled them,” concluded Koll. “I tend not be satisfied or pleased with our guys, but they wrestled well. Right now, the Ivy title is pretty tangible.”

Archived article by Everett Hullverson