This weekend, Cleveland will rock when the Red rolls into town for the National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals.
“This is probably the toughest meet of the season so far,” said head coach Rob Koll. “We’ve drawn Cleveland State and Oklahoma State in the first two rounds — those will be tough matches. Guys need to do well in the Duals to get good seeds in the national tournament.”
Aside from the NCAA Championships, the National Duals is the premiere collegiate wrestling event. The tournament brings together the top-16 teams in NCAA Division I, II and III to compete for the national dual meet championship in their respective division. Some of the Division I opponents the Red will face include Oklahoma State, Minnesota, Michigan, Hofstra, Penn State, and Lehigh.
The Red is currently ranked eleventh nationally and enters Saturday’s competition flying high.
The team has seven wrestlers out of a possible 10 ranked in the top-20 of their respective weight class. The list includes seniors Mike Mormile (16th at 125) and co-captain Travis Lee (1st at 133), junior Dustin Manotti (2nd at 149), seniors Joe Mazzurco (6th at 174) and co-captain Tyler Baier (8th at 184), sophomore Jerry Rinaldi (7th at 197), and senior Tyler Shovlin (20th at heavyweight).
The Red is coming off a 27-9 thrashing of Ohio State in its home opener. Cornell won seven out of 10 matches. Manotti, Mazzurco, and Lee each recorded major decisions while Baier notched a victory by fall. The pin was Baier’s team leading sixth and Lee’s victory pulled him within 10 of the Cornell record. Lee has been closing in on the record quickly and recently passed assistant coach Clint Wattenberg ’03 for second all-time. The victory also gave Lee 36 consecutive dual meet wins. The streak dates back to his freshman season, 2002, when Lee lost to Penn’s Mason Lenhard.
Cleveland State and Oklahoma State will present a tough challenge for the Red. Though unranked, Cleveland State will be on home turf and be determined to have a good showing.
Oklahoma State, on the other hand, is the ranked first in the nation and features four number one ranked wrestlers in the 149, 174, 197, and 285 weight classes. A good showing could boost the Red’s confidence for the remainder of the season and carry it through the championships.
“Certainly, its not life and death,” Koll said. “Our guys always go out and do the best they can but this is our last shot at some of the best competition in the nation. The Duals will prepare the team for NCAA and could affect their seeding. Doing well is very important.”
Archived article by James Rich
Sun Staff Writer