November 30, 2006

Wrestling Squad Banged Up

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It’s a huddled mass of bodies that congregate inside the training room of the Friedman Wrestling Center these days. From sprained knees to strained anterior cruciate ligaments, the wrestling team has been bitten hard by the injury bug to start its 2006-07 campaign. Two weeks into the season, the Red has yet to see action from returning national runner-up sophomore Troy Nickerson (back), sophomore Adam Frey (knee), senior Charlie Agozzino and 184-pounder Josh Arnone (sickness).

To make matters worse, the Red’s fill-in for Arnone’s spot, senior Luke Hogle, injured his shoulder in last Sunday’s dual match against Ohio State after attempting to wrestle up a weight class. Senior Keith Dickey, the Red’s starter at 141 pounds, was also injured at the season opening Body Bar Invitational where he strained his ACL despite finishing third.

“It’s that time of the year,” said head coach Rob Koll. “We’ve been going real hard, and because of that, we have some injuries and some guys that are sick. What we’re doing is being overly cautious.”

[img_assist|nid=20338|title=No let down|desc=Junior Mike Rodriguez (top) controls Ohio State’s Will Livingston during Rodriguez’s 8-0 major decision win at 125 pounds last Sunday inside Newman Arena.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=74]

While the team continues to ease its ailing wrestlers back into action, athletic trainer Chris Scarlata admits that he hasn’t seen anything out of ordinary when it comes to injuries inside the training room.

“This is pretty much how it is the whole year,” Scarlata said. “You get a lot of knee [injuries], ribs and shoulders. This time of year has been worse than most early on in the season. It’s a steady flow throughout the season usually, with only about three our four guys coming in for treatment.”

Although Nickerson, Frey and Dickey are able to keep in shape by way of drilling, cardio, biking, lifting and pool workouts, the team faces a problem of a different dimension with Arnone. Earlier in the season, the highly anticipated debut of the Pennsylvania native as a starter for the Red was indefinitely put on hold after Arnone was diagnosed with mononucleosis.

“What can you say about Josh,” said assistant coach Tyler Baier. “All we can do is make sure he stays out of the room, make sure he doesn’t get anyone else sick and that he himself gets better. We’re also trying to give him the right amount of time off so that he won’t come back too soon and get sick again.”

Although a solid chunk of the starting core has been in distress for the Red, the filling in of vacant spots has proved to be a bright spot for a Red team currently ranked No. 9 in the country by

In action last Sunday, junior Mike Rodriguez recorded a major decision over Ohio State’s Will Livingston at 125 pounds, while freshman Corey Manson nearly defeated then No. 6 ranked Jeff Jaggers if it weren’t for a 1:39 riding time advantage. Regardless of the outcomes, both matches further highlighted the talent of Cornell’s deep squad.

“We’ve never had this depth before,” Baier said of his alma mater. “Just a couple of years ago when I was wrestling, we never had that. Our back-ups really aren’t that at all in some respects. Our guys are confident because of what they face in the room, and it shows.”

With the team’s ability to refuel and recharge, Cornell now readies for its first taste of national tournament competition. The Red takes on over 50 schools at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev., on Friday. Although half of the Red starters will not make the trip, the team knows that injuries are just a byproduct of the sport.

“It’s a long season,” said junior heavyweight Zach Hammond. “You practice hard like you wrestle hard. Injuries are bound to happen.”