February 11, 2005

Grapplers Aim to Take League Title

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The Red may have its sights set on the NCAA championships, but before it can think nationally, it must take care of business in the Ivy League. Victories over Brown and Harvard this weekend will give Cornell its fourth Ivy League in the past five years.

“Winning the Ivies is very important,” said senior Joe Mazzurco. “Our goals every year is to be Ivy champs, Eastern champs, and to place top five in the Nationals. Hopefully, we get step one out of the way this weekend.”

Tonight, the Red will spar with Brown in Providence. The No. 15 Red enters the match with six wrestlers ranked nationally. Most notably, senior co-captain Travis Lee is ranked second at 133, while junior co-captain Dustin Manotti is ranked first at 149. The Red is coming off an upset of No. 11 Hofstra last weekend. The victory vaulted the Red two places in the national rankings.

“We’ve definitely seen a great amount of improvement over the past month,” Mazzurco said. “Everyone is really starting to step up and find their rhythm. Hopefully, we can keep it going for the next month and a half and peak at the right time.”

This season Brown has a 4-7 overall mark and is 1-1 in the Ivies. Though the Bears have seven losses, Brown’s record may not be as bad as it seems. Five losses have come to ranked opponents and recently, the Bears nearly knocked off 24th ranked Penn and 25th ranked Army. Therefore, the Red expects several tough individual matches.

The road trip will continue tomorrow when the Red grapples in a doubleheader — first battling Harvard and then traveling across town to tangle with the Boston University. This season, the Crimson is 1-1 in the Ivies and 1-7 overall. Despite a less than stellar record, Harvard features two nationally ranked wrestlers — Bode Ogunwole, 8th at heavyweight, and Robbie Preston, 19th at 125. The Red will counter with senior Tyler Shovlin at heavyweight and senior Mike Mormile at 125, who is ranked 14th nationally. Mormile says he is prepared for the challenge.

“The coaches have gone over some things with me,” Mormile said. “It’s going to be a test for myself for the end of the year and I’m looking forward to it.”

Boston University enters the weekend at 8-4 on the season and fifth in Colonial Athletic Association. In recent action, the Terriers are coming off sizable victories over Delaware Valley College and Wagner. The squad also has several wrestlers ranked in the top five in the CAA, and one nationally ranked grappler — Rayes Gonzales, who is 20th at 149.

“I expect three wins,” said head coach Rob Koll. “We better get three wins or we’ll have a lot of kids walking home. Or I’ll be walking. We have a lot more firepower than those teams.”

Though the Red may be the favorites, Koll warned against complacency.

“We fully expect to be sharp against Brown and Harvard,” Koll said. “Or else you lose to one guy and the next thing you know, instead of being second or third seed in the [Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Championships] you go to the seventh seed. It could make your life a lot harder.”

Archived article by James Rich
Sun Staff Writer