After an impressive opening to the season, the wrestling team now hopes to win big in Las Vegas, as No. 8 Cornell competes in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational today and tomorrow.
The Red began its new year two weeks ago, as Cornell won the Body Bar Invitational at Newman Arena. The grapplers earned six individual titles at the event which featured 11 different teams.
But, the invitational will present the Red with far more difficult competition, as some of the nation’s most talented wrestlers will be in attendance. The 51-team field includes a number of top schools, including No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Michigan, No. 14 Wisconsin, and No. 15 Arizona State. Each team is allowed to bring one wrestler at each weight class.
Senior All-American Dustin Manotti – ranked fourth in the nation at 157 pounds – will look to win his second Las Vegas Invitational title. He won at 149 pounds last year.
Junior Jerry Rinaldi (197 pounds) took fourth place at last year’s event, and will look to continue his strong wrestling after winning his bracket at the Body Bar Invitational.
Freshman Troy Nickerson (125) will make his first major national showing at the collegiate level this weekend, having won his bracket two weeks ago in commanding fashion.
Senior Mike Mormile will represent Cornell at 133 pounds, which may be the most competitive weight class at the tournament. The event will include 13 of the top-20 wrestlers at that weight class, including No. 1 Shawn Bunch of Edinboro. Bunch is a familiar name to Cornell wrestling, as Travis Lee ’05 wrestled him in the national finals. Mormile is currently ranked 15th in the nation.
Meanwhile, sophomore Evan Schiedel (141) and senior Mike Reish (149) will look to break into contention this weekend, in some of the first major action of their collegiate careers.
Manotti will likely be the No. 2 seed at the tournament, and may eventually face off against the nation’s top wrestler at 157 pounds, Alex Tirapelle of Illinois.
Meanwhile, sophomore Steve Anceravage (165) will hope to build on his impressive second place finish at the Body Bar Invitational.
He faces a competitive bracket that includes one of the nation’s best wrestlers, Ryan Churella of Michigan.
Junior Luke Hogle will compete for the Red at 174 pounds. Hogle won a title at the Body Bar Invitational, managing to pin his bracket’s top seed, Nick Kozar of Drexel.
Senior All-American Joe Mazzurco (184) will look to continue his solid wrestling at his new weight class. The tri-captain was unchallenged two weeks ago, on his way to winning a Body Bar title over fairly strong competition. Mazzurco wrestled at 174 pounds last year.
Rinaldi will look to record another strong performance at the Las Vegas Invitational. Rinaldi will likely be the No. 1 seed at the event, as he is the highest ranked wrestler among those competing. The junior is currently ranked ninth in the country.
Senior Jim March will be Cornell’s heavyweight wrestler. March won an early-round match at the Body Bar Invitational, before losing in the quarterfinals to Ty Watterson of Oregon State.
Among the numerous schools in attendance, three teams from the Big Ten – Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin – will most likely offer the Red its toughest competition.
The Illini feature Tirapelle at 157 pounds, as well as the third-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds, Pete Friedl.
No. 11 Tyrone Byrd may end up facing Rinaldi in the later rounds of the tournament, and there is a good chance Mazzurco – if he performs as well as he did two weeks ago -will compete against Friedl over the course of the two days.
Michigan has several nationally-ranked wrestlers throughout its lineup, including the nation’s top wrestler at 149 pounds, Eric Tannenbaum.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin features No. 7 Tyler Turner at 149 pounds, No. 10 Chris Henning at 157 pounds, and No. 13 Jake Donar at 165 pounds.
Archived article by Ted Nyman
Sun Staff Writer