March 15, 2004
W. Laxers Split Weekend
| March 15, 2004
Things did not seem to be going well for the women’s lacrosse team (1-3) at all. After losing its first two games by a margin of 10.5 goals, the preseason-ranked No. 12 Red slid out of the top 20. On Friday, Cornell faced Hofstra (2-2), knowing very well that Rutgers (3-1), the Red’s next opponent, had already beaten this squad earlier in the season.
After struggling on the offensive end for much of the game, the Red dropped its first match of the weekend to the Pride, bringing its record to 0-3.
“I think we had big improvements on the defensive side of the game,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86 after the Hofstra loss. “Offensively, we just really didn’t find a great rhythm.”
However, Sunday was a totally different story. Despite not having any seniors on the field because of injuries, the Red played with defensive brilliance to take down Rutgers, 8-6. Junior Kristin Smith had three goals and the Red’s new starting goaltender, sophomore Maggie Fava, had a career-high 10 saves.
“I definitely think that Fava will step up for us this season,” said senior co-captain Jaime Quinn.
In its first game this weekend against Hofstra, the Red seemed to come out slow, which proved fatal against a very fast and athletic Hofstra squad. The Pride scored the first three goals of the contest before junior Kristin Smith picked up the first of her four goals in the contest off a wraparound shot to make it a 3-1 contest. The Pride rebounded before the first half ended however, when Hofstra senior Mary Ramano made it 4-1 with only twenty seconds left.
After the Pride’s Caitlin Connolly made it 5-1 early in the second half, the Red reacted with a bit of an offensive surge. Smith garnered her second goal of the night, while Quinn got her first to cut the deficit to two. This is as close as the Red would get however, as the Pride then proceeded to go on a 3-1 run to give Hofstra the 8-4 lead. Despite a late push by the Red to bring it within two, the game ended with a score of 11-9.
“We normally play a finesse attack,” Graap explained. “But tonight that isn’t what we needed. We needed more one vs. one
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March 16, 2004
Necks wrenched, joints twisted, lungs gasped, and faces grimaced at wrestling practice last night. Even head coach Rob Koll found himself face up on the mat, stars swirling around his head, after getting stunned during a warm-up match. “That’s the hardest I’ve banged it in a while,” he said, blinking. In spite of the pained expressions and woozy noggins, the grapplers and their coach are smiling: they’re about to leave for spring break. This afternoon, defending national champion, junior Travis Lee, along with eight members of the wrestling team and their coaches, will board a plane leaving Ithaca, but they aren’t going to Disneyland. The destination of choice, instead: beautiful St. Louis, Missouri, host of the 2004 NCAA wrestling championships. Though the banks of the Mississippi river provide wonderful sunbathing opportunities, the team doesn’t plan on getting tan in the Show Me state. Ideally, these grapplers would rather spend three days indoors under the lights in Savvis Center. “I’ve felt great in practice, and things are going well right now,” Lee said. “I feel really confident I can do it this year, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We’ll see how it turns out.” Two weekends ago at the EIWA championships, Cornell placed third as a team and qualified eight of its ten-members for the national tournament. Now, with only a few days left before the first matches of nationals begin, the grapplers are preparing to do what they have trained for since the end of last season: beating the country’s best wrestlers. A digital clock hanging above the main mat at the Freidman Wrestling Center reminds them of that goal every day. Yesterday afternoon, it displayed 2:19:05. The numbers — days, hours, minutes until nationals begins — have been ticking since the Red returned to Ithaca last year with one national champion and a 10th place team finish. The prominent digits also motivated the grapplers all year. “Eight wrestlers is the least I expected to take to nationals this year. Anything less would have disappointed me,” Koll said. “Then again, eight ties the record for the most guys we’ve ever taken, and only two teams in the country are taking more, so I shouldn’t really complain.” For seven of the Red’s men — freshman Jerry Rinaldi, sophomore Dustin Manotti, juniors Joe Mazzurco, and Mike Mormile, and seniors Scott Roth, Tyler Baier, and Matt Greenberg — the trip is a chance to become an All-American for the first time, finish stronger than last year, or graduate with wins against the country’s best wrestlers. For Lee, however, it is a chance to make history. With his win at the EIWAs this year, Lee became the first Cornellian to capture three straight Eastern titles beginning as a freshman. As a sophomore last year, he claimed the national title in the 125-pound weight class. The championship was only the seventh in Cornell history, and the first since David Hirsch brought the 126-pound title back to East Hill a decade ago. The points Lee earned for his victory also helped the Red break the top 10 as a team for the first time since 1993. “It feels great to know that I’ve done something to be up there with the greats,” Lee said. “It’s great to be a part of the history of Cornell wrestling.” But with the accolades and awards has come pressure. On the road to his championship last year, Lee accumulated a perfect 34-0 record. That streak extended into the early part of this season, when San Francisco State’s Donald Lockett beat Lee, 6-5, in the opening round of the Midlands in January. The loss was Lee’s first since the 2002 NCAA tournament and his only one this season. It could not have come at a worse time. In his first two years at Cornell, Lee had wrestled as a 125-pounder. This year, he moved up to 133. Initially, neither he nor his coaches knew how well he would adapt to bigger opponents. When unranked Lockett won, some skeptics questioned whether or not the decision to go up would cost Lee a national title. “I think some people said that I might not be able to do it again. There were message boards on the internet where they would write stuff about the loss, saying I might not be able to do it,” he recalls. “It was a bit of a wake up call for me, but I tried not to get caught up in it all.” Though he would have enjoyed extending his winning streak through this year’s title bout, Lee feels content knowing that the loss was a fluke, that he will not abrogate his NCAA throne. The NCAA seeding officials have bet on it. When wrestling starts on Thursday, Lee will enter the tournament with the first seed in his weight class. Already this season, he has racked up 33 wins, including one over defending national champion Johhny Thompson of Oklahoma State, and two more against the former No. 2 and No. 3 ranked wrestlers in the country. “To put it in perspective, there’s no one even close to Travis right now. All his wins against his best opponents have been two or three point victories,” Koll said. “Travis is the kind of guy who never loses to a wrestler he’s already beaten, and not too many people beat him.” A win this year would also vault Lee onto a pedestal occupied by only one other Cornell wrestler, Dave Auble ’60. Between 1957 and 1960, Auble won two NCAA titles and three EIWA championships. He was also voted outstanding wrestler at the 1959 and 1960 Eastern tournaments and the 1960 NCAA tournament. Four years after graduating, he placed fourth at the Tokyo Olympics. “He follows Travis and the team,” Koll said of Auble. “He’s amazed at what Travis has done, and he’s a huge fan.” Hopefully, Auble and the rest of us will have something to continue rooting for on March 20th, the day of the championship bouts. Koll has confidence that we will. “You don’t think a kid like Travis can get much better, but he is. He’s better, stronger, and quicker than he was last year,” he concluded. “I don’t know how great it would feel for him to win a second championship. I only know how disappointed he’d be if he didn’t.” Archived article by Everett Hullverson
March 16, 2004
With only one first place finish this season, casual sports fans may view the gymnastics team’s 2004 campaign as a failure. These fans would be mistaken. This season is by far the Red’s best ever from a scoring standpoint, and the team continues to improve each week. As a result, head coach Paul Beckwith could not help but be excited at what the rest of the season may hold in store for the Red, despite its 193.275-192.225 loss to Temple over the weekend. “The score was great,” he said. “It was the fourth highest score ever. That cemented our getting into the USAG Collegiate National Championship.” With the ECAC championships being held this Saturday, the Red has improved to a point where its scores can be title worthy. In the last three meets, the team has averaged 192.717 points, over a point higher than the school record prior to this season. Injuries have also limited Cornell’s abilities over that same period, which makes one wonder how high it can score when healthy. “Injuries kept us from winning,” Beckwith said. “If we had all of our top people in, we would have been okay, but it was worth holding them out, because we want this week to be our best meet of the year.” The Red outscored Temple on both the vault and the balance beam, but the Owls prevailed on the uneven bars, setting a new school record of 49.350 behind matching scores of 9.9 by Diedre Mattocks and Paige Ozaroski. Junior Meghan Miller continued to blaze a torrid pace on bars this season with a 9.850, placing her in a tie for the fourth spot. She also was a major contributor on beam with a second-place finish (9.775). Junior Larissa Calka, who won the ECAC Coaches’ Choice award last week, was once again the Red’s most solid performer as she won the all-around competition with a score of 38.375. She is one of the many gymnasts looking to improve before the upcoming ECAC and USAG championships. “She has four of the top seven scores ever in the all-around,” Beckwith said. “She’s going to work real hard on raising her start value on beam this week. She can do the harder dismount, but right now we don’t want to take the chance.” Senior Rachel Goldberg led the Red in a much improved vault lineup. She placed first in the meet with a 9.725, as the team improved nearly half a point on the event. Sophomore Cathy Schnell took second place with a 9.650. “We had a really good day on vault,” Beckwith said. “Rachel had her second highest score of the year, and Cathy had her second highest score of the year.” The Red will be back in action this Saturday as it returns to Philadelphia for the ECAC championships. The event should also mark the return of freshman Randi Bisbano, who has been limited in competition over the past few weeks because of a knee injury. If she is able to compete, there is little doubt among the team that a new school record is well within reach. “I know we can score a 194, and if that wins, then we’re in good shape,” Beckwith said. Archived article by Dan Carroll