November 19, 2004

Wrestlers Energy Stems From Coach

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Rob Koll is crazy.

Actually looking forward to go to work, Koll eagerly calls season ticket holders, washes mats, wrestles with his team at practice, and still has more energy at home to make more calls to alumni and recruits. By midnight, his mind is still racing. Koll is excited about his team and for Koll, it has become an “obsession.”

“My wife thinks there is a different term … Mistress.” he said.

Once one looks into the talent and potential of Koll’s team this year, and the rapidly improving wrestling program, it is not difficult to see why the head coach is so giddy.

Boasting a squad saturated with talent in every weight class, Koll said that this is the deepest, and possibly best, team he has coached at Cornell, with top-five potential.

“The biggest thing [Koll] is excited about is, ‘Man, look at this team we’ve got, look at the recruits we’re bringing in every year,'” said senior Tyler Baier. “I’d be damned excited if I was the head coach of this program…”

The drive towards the peak of the national scene starts with the No. 12 Red’s two returning All-Americans — junior Dustin Manotti and senior Travis Lee. Koll said that he expects both the preseason No. 2 Manotti, who placed fourth at nationals at 149-pounds, and No. 1 Lee, who was fifth at 133, to be leading contenders to win national titles.

Koll, who noted that his starting wrestlers rank within the top-30 in their respective weight classes, also expects wrestlers including senior Joe Mazzurco (165), Baier (184) and sophomore Jerry Rinaldi (197) to make big impacts.

“All of the kids who came back from last year or who are returning starters, I expect great things out of them,” Koll said.

With the rapidly improving recruiting classes in recent times comes the prospect of inner-team competition for starting places and with the squad’s talent, Manotti said that it will be difficult for anyone, especially freshmen, to break in as a starter.

“But if that freshman does start, watch out, because they’re probably going to do some damage,” Manotti said.

Expectations are running high, and with season ticket sales increasing rapidly, and with Koll pushing to generate student interst, the season looks bright.

Let the insanity begin.

Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor