The best always rise to the top. At the Body Bar Invitational, the Red stumbled early but rose to the occasion in the end.
“After the first round I was ticked off,” said head coach Rob Koll. “But by the time the tournament was over, I was very satisfied. Everybody wrestled up to or better than their seeds. They really did as well as I expected.”
On Saturday, the Red had a tournament-best four individual titles. Senior co-captain Tyler Baier, junior Dustin Manotti, senior co-captain Travis Lee and sophomore Jerry Rinaldi each captured titles. However, the excellent individual showings were not enough for Cornell to defend its Body Bar title as No. 6 Michigan edged the Red, 139.5 to 131. The Red finished the day in second place out of 11 teams.
The most anticipated match of the day came in the finals of the 149-pound weight class. After cruising through the early rounds, Manotti, currently ranked second in the nation, met Army’s Phillip Simpson, number three in the nation. The match was a close contest but Manotti was able to earn a tough 6-4 decision. The victory gave Manotti a third straight Body Bar title.
The 184-pound weight class was the most competitive class at the Body Bar with four nationally ranked competitors. The Red received a huge performance from Baier. Ranked 10th nationally, Baier stepped up and defeated 12th ranked Luke Calvert of Army, 4-1.
The 133-pound weight class belonged to Lee. Ranked first in the nation at 133, Lee was considered a lock to defend his Body Bar title. He did not disappoint. In the semifinal, Lee pinned Graig Gillsion of Maryland and in the finals he defeated the Citadel’s Ryan McClester, 15-3. The title was Lee’s third straight at the Body Bar.
Rinaldi won the Red’s final individual title of the day. Rolling through the first three rounds, Rinaldi was challenged in the finals by Willie Breyer of Michigan. Breyer matched Rinaldi nearly point for point but in the end, Rinaldi gained a slight edge and held onto a 7-5 decision.
“You need to have those close matches,” Koll said. “When its close and you don’t expect it to be close, you get tight and tired — you have to deal with your nerves. It prepares you for the Nationals. Jerry’s pretty clutch.”
Other outstanding performances for the Red included a second-place finish in the 157-pound weight class from junior Josh Cholish. Despite entering the Body Bar unseeded, Cholish was able to get to the finals but lost, 10-5, to the Travis Piccard of the Citadel. A trio of sophomores, Joey Hooker (157), Luke Hogle (174) and Jason Manross (197) recorded third place finishes. Finally, freshman Zach Hammond rounded out a successful day for the Red, finishing fourth in the 285-pound weight class.
“Zach beat a number of really good kids,” Koll said. “Joey [Hooker], Luke [Hogle] and Jason [Manross] finished third. Nobody gives them any credit but they stepped up. That was more impressive to me then Travis Lee or Jerry Rinaldi winning the tournament.”
The Red returns to action as a team at the Las Vegas Invitational, but Manotti will compete individually today at the 2004 Marines All-Star Classic. The prestigious meet will pit Manotti against No. 1 Zack Esposito of Oklahoma. Lee was invited but will not compete due to a minor arm injury he suffered Saturday.
Archived article by James Rich
Sun Staff Writer