February 1, 2008

Wrestling Returns Home

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The No. 18 wrestling team will look to right the ship this weekend as it battles No. 12 Hofstra on Saturday evening at the Friedman Wrestling Center. Despite losing four of its last five dual meets (all to ranked opponents), the team (1-5) is as confident as ever considering that Cornell is at full strength for the first time all season, and the squad is wrestling at home for the first time since its victory in the Body Bar Invitational on Nov. 11, 2007.
“I am really confident in our team right now, we’ve really come together,” said junior Steve Anceravage. “We have [sophomore Adam] Frey back in the lineup, we have [sophomore Josh] Arnone back in the lineup, I do think that we’ll come out on top.”
Arnone — who was a NCAA qualifier and an All-American last year at 184 pounds — has been out all season after undergoing shoulder surgery in the fall and, according to Anceravage, will make an immediate impact on the Red lineup.[img_assist|nid=27171|title=Bottoms up|desc=Senior grappler Joey Hooker and the Red look to top Hofstra at the Friedman Wrestling Center this weekend after injuries have marred the season since November.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“It will be his coming back party,” he said. “I’ve wrestled with him in practice and he is 100 percent. He should win soundly.”
Frey garnered a long list of accolades in his freshman season, earning Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors, All-Ivy second team, and was an EIWA finalist as well as an NCAA qualifier. He has battled an assortment of injuries and has struggled to make weight this season, but has accumulated a 6-3 overall record and should be a force tomorrow at 141 pounds.
Although the Red’s starting lineup is much younger and more inexperienced than last year’s squad, which featured senior All-American Jerry Rinaldi, Anceravage believes the loss of senior leadership is outweighed by superior talent and new, younger leaders.
“You can’t put a price on a guy like Jerry Rinaldi, he was a great wrestler and leader,” Anceravage said. “But a lot of guys have stepped up this year, like [junior] Jordan Leen. He has always been someone who has led by example, but he has really stepped up his vocal leadership. [Junior] Zach Hammond is also a good leader and although the freshmen, Mack Lewnes and Mike Grey are absolutely leaders by example. It is inspiring to watch how hard they wrestle for seven minutes every week and how hard they go at it in the practice room. I also think we’re more talented this year, even with the loss of [junior two-time All-American] Troy Nickerson.”
One of the most anticipated matchups this weekend is at 133 pounds, where freshman sensation, and No. 2 ranked, Mike Grey faces off against the Pride’s No. 6 ranked Lou Ruggirello. The Hofstra wrestler was ranked No. 1 in the country earlier this season and will be hungry for revenge after Grey beat him in overtime at the Southern Scuffle on Dec. 30. Other key matchups for the Red include No. 5 ranked Charles Griffin taking on Frey (who was ranked as high as No. 3 last year) at 141 pounds, Hofstra’s No. 5 ranked Alton Lucas versus the Red’s No. 10 ranked Anceravage at 174 pounds and finally, the Pride’s No. 13 ranked Dave Tomasette against senior Mike Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has filled in admirably for Nickerson (who is out for the season with an injury) so far this year, compiling a 13-7 record overall and a 1-3 record in dual meets.
“I think Mike is coming into his own and has a real shot at beating Tomasette,” Anceravage said.
When asked if he is concerned about the team’s morale if it loses this weekend in yet another dual match, Anceravage responded, “No, because we’re not going to lose.”