Although it is easier said than done, the goal for Cornell wrestling is to have an All-American at every weight class. The talent is there, as is the opportunity. With the brutality that the sport entails, the team hopes that everyone stays healthy.
“We want to have 10 All-Americans,” said head coach Rob Koll. “I feel very confident that we have seven or eight kids who have the ability to be All-Americans. It doesn’t mean that they will be, but then again, it doesn’t mean that someone else won’t step up and surprise us also.”
While seniors Dustin Manotti, Joe Mazzurco, and Mike Mormile impressed in their first live action in their new respected weight classes as expected, the most impressive victories at Cornell’s first tournament – the Body Bar Invitational – came from names that weren’t talked about last season.
With Mazzurco moving up a weight class to 184, junior Luke Hogle stepped into the 174-pound bracket and won over the Cornell crowd, as he went an undefeated 4-0 to win first place.
“Luke was a junior high school national champion, a state champion, he’s very athletic, and he has a chance to place at the national tournament,” Koll said. “I’m not trying to take away from other people, but we need to get our best athletes in our lineup. If moving guys up a weight class, without hurting their chances to win a national title, allows us to get our best people into the lineup, then we are going to do it.”
Hogle won his first-ever Body Bar title by beating second-ranked Aaron Miller of Kent State and top-ranked Nick Kozar of Drexel, both by way of pin fall.
The Oregon native will see his next action at the Las Vegas Invitational this weekend, where he will be tested against the nation’s best competition in a tournament which will feature wrestlers from over 60 schools.
“I’m sure there is going to be several highly-ranked guys in my weight and hopefully I can beat them, so we’ll see what happens,” Hogle said.
Along with Hogle, highly-touted freshman Troy Nickerson lived up to his billing, winning the 125-pound bracket by a decision of 8-1 over Drexel’s Steve Mytych. Also impressive was classmate Josh Arnone at 184 pounds, who looks to be Mazzurco’s understudy after a third-place finish at the Body Bar Invite. Arnone performed extremely well and he got revenge, defeating Maryland’s Josh Haines – an opponent who had beaten him when Arnone was in high school at the Pennsylvania state championship.
“As a freshman, Mazzurco was fourth or fifth string and had three guys in front of him who had all pinned him,” Koll said. “Now, Joe’s our team leader and is going for a national title. It’s just part of the college experience in that you have to pay your dues and that is what Josh is doing right now. Imagine where [Arnone] is going to be in a couple of years. We’re all real excited about him.”
While Cornell took six first-place finishes at the meet, the team will look to improve on its weaknesses as the season progresses. The squad competed without three of its wrestlers due to injury. The Red was missing juniors Matt Easter at 141 pounds along with Charlie Agozzino and Keith Dickey at 149 pounds.
Despite a showing at the Body Bar Invite in which junior Joey Hooker and sophomore Steve Anceravage finished third and second at 165 pounds, respectively, the weight class could be the Red’s most talented in terms of depth. In the mix with Hooker and Anceravage is one of last year’s starters, senior John Cholish. The New Jersey native is back in action despite missing the last competition due to a bad knee.
“I’m very confident that whoever comes out of there is not only going to be good, but outstanding,” Koll said. “You couldn’t ask for more depth. Ultimately, whoever survives is hopefully going to be an All-American caliber kid. Just surviving everyday in that room [in practice] is tough.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Staff Writer