When the second ranked wrestler in the nation, senior Travis Lee (133-pounds), came to Cornell almost four years and 134 wins ago, the Red wrestling team (11-4, 5-0 Ivy) found it more of a struggle to win its conference.
But not these days.
The No. 15 Red wrestling team clinched its third consecutive Ivy League championship in dominating fashion over the weekend, cruising to wins over Harvard and Brown, while beating Boston University as well. In addition, Lee won his 134th match, tying Cornell’s all-time win record held by Mark Fergeson ’93.
“We’re really wrestling well. We’ve got one more match this weekend and everybody is healthy so everything is going well,” said head coach Rob Koll. “I’m anxious to get to Nationals and Easterns.”
After demolishing Brown (5-9, 1-3 Ivy), 38-0, behind two technical falls by Lee and senior Joe Mazzurco (174), and four major decisions, the Red headed up to Boston for a doubleheader where it first faced the Crimson.
Cornell got off to a fast start when sophomore Jerry Rinaldi pinned Andrew Dane at 1:52. But the Red dropped two one-point decisions in the next two weight classes, as No. 7 Bode Ogunwole (HWT) and No. 16 Robbie Preston (125) beat seniors Tyler Shovlin and Mike Mormile, respectively.
With Koll resting Lee, freshman Nick Bridge stepped in and broke the 6-6 tie with a convincing, 14-2, major decision win over Brent Kakesako. The Red never looked back, sweeping the rest of the weight classes, including a technical fall by junior Dustin Manotti (149) and a pin by sophomore Joey Hooker (165) at 7:36. Junior Dan Miracola (184), who stepped in for No. 7 Tyler Baier, wrapped up the win with an 8-2 decision over Billy Colgan, giving the Red a 36-6 victory and another Ivy league title.
“We tried to give other guys opportunities. We’re only allowed to bring 14 guys on away trips so we want to make sure other guys wrestle,” Koll said in reference to the starts by Miracola and Bridge. “They did a nice job. They both won and [they are] the future, so we have to make sure those guys need to be where we need them to be.”
On Saturday evening, the Red continued its dominating form, crushing Boston University, 46-(-1). It was in this match where Lee earned his record-tying win, pinning Joey Whitaker at 5:54. The Terriers were penalized one point for unsportsmanlike conduct by Whitaker. Baier also pinned his opponent at 6:05, while Mazzurco and Manotti earned technical falls against in the match.
“We’ve had very few shutouts in my career and we had three in the last month,” Koll said. “It speaks volumes of how this team is wrestling.”
Cornell has now won seven consecutive dual meets since losing to Penn State nearly a month ago. The Red has one more home match against Bloomsburg on Saturday, where Lee could become Cornell’s all-time leader in wins. Koll expects that seven of his wrestlers will be named to the All-Ivy first team. The most first-team All-Ivy selections that the Red recorded in one season was five. In addition, the Red lost only five individual matches in conference action this year.
Koll said his main goal is to keep the team healthy going into the EIWA Championships and Nationals in St. Louis. And while winning the Ivy title is sweet, Koll felt pretty confident of his team’s chances in taking its third consecutive league title.
“After we got by Penn and Columbia, [winning the title] was a foregone conclusion,” Koll said.
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor