On a weekend when legends of the Cornell wrestling program packed the Friedman Wrestling Center, the current Red wrestlers stepped forward and showed the future of the program is just as bright.
For 19 years, the Penn-Cornell meet has decided the Ivy League title. On Saturday, the 14th-ranked Red secured an inside track to the title with a resounding 30-3 victory over No. 24 Penn.
“We talked to guys beforehand to let them know how many alumni were out there in the crowd,” said head coach Rob Koll. “We told them how important this match was to them but win or lose, you go down fighting and they’ll be proud of you.”
The day opened with a gritty victory by senior Mike Mormile over Penn’s Mason Lenhard.
Only one point was scored in the first two periods — a Lenhard escape. Mormile was awarded a penalty point early in the third period, and then scored a reversal, holding on for a 3-2 win. The victory brought Red fans to their feet and set the tone for the match.
“Mormile did a great job against one of the top guys,” Koll said. “After he won that, I felt pretty good about our chances and from there, things just snowballed for us.”
Following senior co-captain Travis Lee’s major decision at the 133 weight class, freshman Jordan Leen turned in a heart-stopping performance at the 141 pound weight class against 16th-ranked Doug McGraw. Leen grabbed an early lead in the first period with a takedown. McGraw responded with a two-point near fall in the second that tied the match, but Leen once again took the lead, recording a two-point reversal.
In the third period, McGraw was awarded a penalty point and scored a point on an escape to tie the match, sending it into a sudden death period. Neither wrestler could gain control in the first period or in the two following tie breaker periods. Finally in the second sudden death victory period, Leen scored a takedown to end the match.
“After Jordan beat that kid, things started rolling,” Koll said. “Jordan out-wrestled him and I think if he wrestled him again, he’d beat him. Today he proved he was very capable of beating top competition.”
Leading 10-0, the Red did not slow down. Junior co-captain Dustin Manotti recorded seven takedowns in a major decision victory over Kyle Berholz. Junior John Cholish, sophomore Joey Hooker, and senior Joe Mazzurco each added three points to the Red’s team total with victories at the 157, 165, and 174 weight classes, respectively.
The Red rout was completed by senior co-captain Tyler Baier and sophomore Jerry Rinaldi. Baier added a major victory over Jack Kitchen, while Rinaldi ground out a riding time victory to give the Red a commanding 30-0 lead. The only Penn points came when fifth-ranked Matt Feast defeated senior Tyler Shovlin in a hard fought match.
On Friday, the Red warmed up for Penn by stomping Princeton, 42-0. The shutout was the Red’s first since a 48-0 win over James Madison last February, and featured three major decisions and one pin.
The Red stars shone brightly. Manotti, ranked first nationally, opened with major decision over Andrew Iannuzzi, 23-9. Following victories by Cholish and Hooker, ninth-ranked Mazzurco unleashed a relentless attack and recorded a 19-7 victory over Matthew DeNichilo.
The eighth-ranked Baier continued the Red success, as he nearly pinned Tiger Jack Fleming twice, before takedowns in the second and third period gave him a 12-0 win.
After building an 8-0 lead, senior Matt Bogumil pinned Kris Berr at the heavyweight division before Mormile, Lee, and Leen also chipped in with victories, completing a comprehensive defeat of its Ivy League rivals.
Archived article by James Rich
Sun Staff Writer