It’s going to get hot and it’s going to get sweaty this weekend as the wrestling team (3-4, 0-0 Ivy) is set to host Columbia (4-5, 0-0 Ivy) and Hofstra (9-4-1 Colonial) tomorrow and Sunday, respectively, in its 2005-06 debut at the Friedman Wrestling Center. The match against Columbia, which will take place inside the infamously warm wrestling arena, will be the Ivy League opener for both teams. Despite the Ivy rivalry, the team is treating this weekend as just another practice round for the national tournament.
“We don’t train for Columbia or Hofstra,” said head coach Rob Koll. “We’re training for the national tournament. We’ve been going very hard this week and we will continue to go hard from here. Hopefully the guys aren’t tired, but if they are, too bad, we’re not focusing on beating Columbia. That’s a foregone conclusion in that we expect to beat Columbia and Hofstra, but this is all just preparation for the national tournament.”
The team should be well rested after taking last weekend off after four straight weekends of wrestling. The team was also given a day off two Mondays ago, but the team showed its dedication as the entire squad showed up to work out anyway. While the team should be rested physically, the mental benefits of a weekend off should reap rewards.
“It’s such a huge break,” said assistant coach Steve Garland. “Getting mentally prepared for competition is worse than anything physical. The whole night before you’re worried about making weight, the whole day of [the match] you’re worried about what you’re going to do in competition, and the whole week in practice you’re worried about what’s this kid going to do that I’m wrestling. The best thing about this last weekend was that these kids finally had a chance to be kind of normal and go out, go see a movie, go hang out, and not have to worry about making weight.”
While seniors Mike Mormile (133 pounds), Dustin Manotti (157), and Joe Mazzurco (184) are expected to win their respective matches, the weekend will prove to be crucial for classmate Dan Miracola (174) and junior Keith Dickey (149).
Dickey was touted at the beginning of the season as having All-American talent, but has had a run of bad luck against some of the top wrestlers in the country, stretching back to when he came back to the lineup after missing the early part of the season due to injury. The junior has lost close bouts to No. 15 Matt Ciasulli of Lehigh and No. 9 James Woodall of Lock Haven. Dickey has no easy task this Sunday as he is set to wrestle the fourth-ranked wrestler in the nation, Hofstra’s Jon Masa.
Miracola will have no time to breathe easy as he will face No. 8 Matt Palmer of Columbia tomorrow and Hofstra’s No. 5 Mike Patrovich on Sunday. If Miracola can pull out a victory this weekend the coaches believe it could build enough confidence for a potential national tournament run.
“If Dan wants to get to the national tournament and be an All-American, which should be his goal, he’s got to beat some these guys,” Koll said. “He’s been close but that’s not good enough. He’s a senior, he’s strong enough, and he’s technical enough to beat these guys and now he just needs to put everything together and find a way to go out there and do it.”
Anticipation will also loom as to whether a former defensive end for the Cornell football team – senior Matt Pollock – will make his debut as a heavyweight. The 6-0, 280-pounder has been out with the team since the beginning of winter break in hopes to keep in shape and sharpen his hand-fighting skills in hopes of a possible showcase at the upcoming NFL combine. He also adds much-needed depth to the position after junior Jason Manross blew out his knee earlier in the season competing at the Southern Scuffle. Although it is not certain whether Pollock will see action this weekend, one thing that is for sure is that he will greatly improve the development of sophomore Zach Hammond.
“Zach is finally getting healthy and just to have a big guy in the room to push around is a great advantage,” Koll said. “Before Matt was in here, Zach was wrestling 197-pounders and then had to go out and wrestle 280-pound heavyweights and it was such a hard adjustment for him.”
The team is set to make its first appearance inside the Friedman Wrestling Center tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.
“I’m excited to be back,” Garland said. “The fans are literally right on the mat and it’s all the die-hards. This is where we practice and it’s like that phrase ‘where you study for the test is where you do best on the test,’ so if the guys don’t wrestle well here I don’t know what to tell them.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Staff Writer