February 7, 2005

Wrestlers Knock Off No. 11 Hofstra, Columbia

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While the No. 17 Red (8-4, 3-0 Ivy) had mixed results during the first part of its season, its form recently illustrates that the team is starting to peak.

Saturday’s results exemplifies this fact, as Cornell defeated No. 11 Hofstra (9-4, 3-0 CAA), 20-12, at Hempstead, before dusting off Ivy rival Columbia (4-3, 1-2 Ivy), 31-6, later that evening.

“This team has really come together and it’s really nice when it happens,” said head coach Rob Koll. “There is not a guy that you can’t count on [for a win]. When you have a team like that, it’s hard to lose.”

Coming off a 30-3 thumping of No. 25 Penn a weekend ago, the Red has been solid from top to bottom, and its match against Hofstra displayed this. After No. 12 Jerry Rinaldi (197 pounds) dropped the opening match to Pride No. 2 Chris Skretkowicz, 5-0, the Red proceeded to take the next three matches. Seniors Matt Bogumil (HWT) and Mike Mormile (125) picked up the first two victories before No. 2 Travis Lee earned a major decision with a 18-7 win over No. 20 Charles Griffin.

“When Matt and Mike won, we felt really good about getting the win,” Koll said.

Koll also said last week that the team’s stars needed to pull through, and its highest ranked performer did just that. After Jordan Leen (141) lost his bout to No. 7 Ricky LaForge, junior No. 1 Dustin Manotti (149) earned a major decision, demolishing No. 9 Jon Masa, 16-3.

Manotti, who has been ranked the top wrestler for the past three weeks, is now 30-1 this season.

The Red were not out of the woods yet, and after the Pride took the next two weight classes, the 174 pound battle between Red No. 12 Joe Mazzurco and No. 11 Paul Siemon would be crucial. Mazzurco won the match, 5-2, before senior No. 7 Tyler Baier (184) sealed the deal in the final weight division, beating Joe Rovelli, 5-0.

Although the Red sustained a few bumps and bruises at Hempstead, the team geared up for its trip to Columbia hoping to further cement its claim for a third consecutive league championship. The Red exploded to a commanding 14-0 lead, led by two major decisions from Lee and Manotti as well as wins by Leen and Mormile.

While there was some concern after the Lions took the next two weight divisions, the end result was never in serious doubt. Mazzurco earned a technical fall over Columbia’s Sven Hafemeister, before Baier pinned Justin Barent at 3:46. The Red took the final two weight divisions with wins for Rinaldi and senior Tyler Shovlin (HWT).

“We tried to get two matches within a day because you’re trying to simulate the tournament experience,” Koll said. “Fortunately, we didn’t have any letdown what so ever [from last weekend].”

With the Red being heavy favorites to take another Ivy title, pending the results of its away matches at Brown and Harvard next weekend, Koll is looking to the season-ending EIWA tournament before heading to Nationals in St. Louis. Even though the team is ranked 17th – a seeding that will likely be improved after its win against Hofstra – Koll believes that his team has a strong chance of sending 10 wrestlers to nationals and ending the year in the top-five.

“We just got to stay healthy because the conditioning is there,” Koll said. “I can’t wait to get to St. Louis.”

Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor