In this section of the year in sports, The Sun looks at the winter season, which saw the wrestlers place among the top teams in the country, the men’s cagers start red hot and fizzle in their attempt to win the Ivy League, and the men’s hockey team lose in the first round of the playoffs only a year after making it to the Frozen Four. Regardless of results, these teams heated up the dreary Ithaca winter with intense competition.
For the wrestling team, winter is a wonderland. The grapplers capped a fantastic regular season this year with an 11th place finish at the NCAA national championships, and three All-America selections, and nine All-Ivy nods. Leading the pack was sophomore Dustin Manotti, who took fourth in the country in the 149-pound class. Manotti, who placed eighth as a freshman, joins junior Travis Lee as the only other Cornell wrestler to make the All-America team in his first two years.
Lee, incidentally, delivered an outstanding performance at nationals as well. Though he entered the tournament as the No.1 seed, Lee lost a tough bout to Johnny Thompson of Oklahoma State, and eventually went on to take fifth. Though disappointed by the finish, Lee’s place earned him a place in the Ivy League record books, along with Harvard’ s national champion Jesse Jantzen, as the only Ivy wrestlers to make three All-America teams.
Following Lee at nationals was senior 197-pounder Matt Greenberg. Greenberg capped his career on the hill with a seventh-place finish at nationals and 91 wins, tied for ninth most in school history.
In addition to these three, six other grapplers made the All-Ivy team. Seniors Scott Roth (157 pounds) and Tyler Baier (174 pounds) and freshman Jerry Rinaldi (184 pounds) made the first team, while junior Mike Mormile (125 pounds) made the second team, and freshman Keith Dickey (141 pounds) and Dave Post (165 pounds) earned honorable mention.
In what can be considered a roller coaster season, the men’s hockey team had its ups and downs this year. Starting slowly out of the gate with a tie and loss to Western Michigan, the Red played better away from Lynah Rink as it won the Everblades tournament for the first time ever. Even though they went on a slump in January, the Red won seven of its last games down the stretch to earn the second seed in the ECAC tournament. Still, inconsistency came back to haunt the team, as it lost its second-round series against Clarkson in three games. The Red still has much to look forward to next year, boosted by the stellar goaltending of freshman David McKee and the strong development of young players, such as sophomore Matt Moulson and freshman Byron Bitz.
The fencing team was led by its youth this year, as a standout sophomore and a class of talented freshmen fought to create a reputation for the Red. Sophomore epeeist Meghan Phair made headlines all season, beginning with her gold medal at the Temple Open. This was followed by a 31-9 record in dual meets, which earned her second team All-Ivy recognition. She finished in first place at NCAA regionals, then went on to earn a fourth place finish at the national championships and her second consecutive All-America honor.
Freshman Ivana Zgaljic was the best of a strong rookie class, ending her first collegiate season with a 17th place finish at nationals in the saber category. The team also continued to improve, finishing in fifth place at the Intercollegiate Fencing Association championships — the best showing ever for Cornell — and taking 13th overall at the national championships.
Men’s and Women’s Swimming
The men’ s swimming and diving team returned to form this season to post a 5-4 conference record after several sub-par finishes in recent years. The Red finished in fifth place in the EISL standings with a school record 675 points. The finish marked the first time the team had ended its year higher than seventh since 1998. Although this season was one of the best in the history of Cornell swimming, the future looks equally bright, as freshman Mike Smit was named the team’s co-MVP. Smit shared the award with co-captain Danny Royce, who had a terrific senior season for the Red.
In a rebuilding year, the women’s swimming and diving team struggled within the Ivy League, finishing the season without a victory, and only three wins overall. The Red’ s fortunes did not change at the league championships, as the team compiled only 410 points for an eighth place finish. The bright spot for Cornell came from sophomore diver Kristen Rayhack, who was named the Ivy League Diver of the Year after winning the 3-meter event at the championships. Despite the overall disappointing performance in the pool, the team is still only getting used to the coaching style of first year head man John Holohan and his attempts to improve the program.
It was a season of ups and downs for the women’s hockey squad, especially late in the year. Just one weekend after losing to ECAC cellar-dwellar Union, the Red had a miraculous come-from-behind victory against Vermont to seal its second consecutive ECAC playoff berth. Yet, like the year before, the Red was dismantled by two-time ECAC champion, Harvard, in a best-of-three series. The Red finished its season 7-21-2 overall and 3-15-0 in the ECAC. The team’ s future looks bright, as it will lose just four seniors to graduation, while many of the team’ s leading scorers will return.
The men’ s basketball team brought a whole new game to Newman Arena this season, instituting a fast-paced offense and turning the intensity up a notch. With the veteran starting line-up of senior Ka’Ron Barnes, juniors Cody Toppert, Eric Taylor, and Gabe Stephenson, and sophomore Lenny Collins, the Red’s running game increased the team’s scoring average almost ten points over last season. Playing in front of a raucous sell-out crowd, the team started off the season with a spirited home match against national runner up Georgia Tech, coming as close as a 55-54 deficit with 13 minutes to play in the game, before the Yellow Jackets pulled away to win. In Ivy play, Cornell started its season with a 5-0 mark, but only mustered a 1-8 record the rest of the way to finish at 6-8. Overall, the team finished with an 11-16 record. Barnes, the team’s co-captain, led the way for the Red all season with a league leading 20.1 points per game. His 4.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game were both good for No. 2 in the league, and, for those numbers, he was a unanimous pick for the All-Ivy First team.
This was truly a year of mixed emotions for the women’s basketball team. Despite quite a bit of second-half glory, the squad finished only 9-18 (4-10 Ivy). Despite the record, the Red’s five starting seniors still made this season a pleasure to watch. Some memorable games included the team’s brilliant comeback against defending Ivy League champion Harvard, where Cornell fought back from a five-point deficit with under a minute to go to beat the Crimson in overtime. Senior Karen Force topped off her amazing career with another outstanding season, while senior Tanya Karcic played some amazing basketball in the paint, finishing the year with 15.3 PPG.
The men’s squash team went 8-4 in the regular season, and finished the year ranked eighth in the nation. Sophomore Matt Serediak earned All-Ivy honors. The women’ s team ended the year ranked eleventh, and freshman Caitlin Russell won the Halloran Cup second round consolation title.
Archived article by Sun Staff