February 16, 2004

Grapplers shut down Harvard, Brown to win second straight Ivy League title

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The wrestlers did a little road work this weekend, steamrolling Brown and Harvard to clear the path to Cornell’s third Ivy League championship in four years and 25th overall. In the two matches, both at the Friedman Wrestling Center, the Red outscored the Bears and Crimson by a combined 66-12. Cornell’s experienced starters continued to roll, picking up wins and pins, and some underclassmen also earned victories over ranked opponents. The wins capped the Red’s Ivy season with at a perfect 5-0, and the grapplers now stand 8-6 overall in dual meets.

The Red kicked of its weekend on Friday afternoon against Harvard, but the Crimson left hastily after winning only three matches in an embarrassing 33-9 defeat. The meet started with a pin by junior Michael Mormile at the 125-pound weight class. Harvard’s Brent Kakesako did not even have much chance to defend against Mormile’s attack, which included two takedowns, a near fall, and a pin before the end of the first period.

At 133 pounds, junior Travis Lee continued to dominate opponents as he prepares for the NCAA tournament. Lee faced the Crimson’s Greg Cook, whom he took down six times before getting the fall at 5:38. The win pushed Lee’s record on the year to 29-1, and he remains in control of the country’s No. 1 ranking.

The 141-pound match which followed was arguably the highlight of the dual, as Cornell’s unranked freshman, Keith Dickey, upset Harvard’s 12th-ranked Max Meltzer, 9-4. The first period passed without a score, though both wrestlers struggled intensely for control and position. Dickey came out strongly in the second, however, accumulating two near falls while giving up only one escape to move ahead 5-1. The rookie then iced the cake with a takedown in the third period to come out on top.

“Keith Dickey’s match was a huge match in terms of seeding for conference tournaments, the EIWA tournament, and just for his confidence,” said senior co-captain Tyler Baier. “A few big wins like that at the end of the year will really help him going into the postseason.”

Juniors Matt Greenberg and Scott Roth, and freshmen David Post and Jerry Rinaldi also won. Roth earned a 9-4 decision over Brandon Kaufman in the 157-pound bout, Post pinned Thomas Young at 4:30 to win the 165-pound match, Rinaldi earned points for his forfeit, and sixth-ranked Greenberg scraped by with a 4-3 decision over Reginald Lee.

Going into the match, Cornell had already beaten Penn, Princeton, and Columbia, though the Quakers were the only team to reasonably challenge the team. The winner of the Penn-Cornell match has gone on to win or share the Ivy title for the past 17 years, so the Red was confident heading into this weekend that it could wrap up its award.

“We expected after the Penn match that we’d win the Ivy championship,” Baier said. “It’d be a major letdown to not win it. The win against Harvard wasn’t that big a surprise.”

The win against Brown was similarly unsurprising, as Cornell had a 40-2 lifetime record against the Bears. Impressive, however, was the score of the match, which ended 33-3 in favor of Cornell.

Roth began the competition with his 5-2 decision against David Saadeh in the 157-pound bout. Baier, Rinaldi, Greenberg, freshman Ryan Bridge, sophomore Dustin Manotti, Lee, and Mormile followed and all won their respective weight classes.

Also a winner was junior heavyweight Matt Bogumil, who avenged his loss to Harvard the previous day with a 3-2 decision over Lee Beane.

The heavyweight finale, though not crucial to the match, concluded the team’s league matches and assured the squad of the outright Ivy championship. And, despite the lopsided score, Cornell was thankful for the victory.

“We could have made these matches close by not wrestling well, but we wrestled a great weekend and we blew these guys out,” Baier said. “It was a great way to win the Ivy championship. We’re happy”

Archived article by Everett Hullverson