February 8, 2008

Red Rides Momentum Into Ivy League Opener

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The wrestling team will finally catch a break from top-10 competition this weekend, as it takes on Wagner and Ivy rival Columbia tomorrow afternoon at Friedman Wrestling Center. The Red (2-5) is fresh off a convincing 28-14 defeat of then-No. 12 Hofstra last weekend and appears primed to continue its winning ways.
“It was a huge moral boost to beat Hofstra after coming out on the short end of the stick in past matches due to injuries,” said junior Steve Anceravage. “To come back to our home gym and win against a good team even after forfeiting one weight class was huge.”
Sophomore Adam Frey failed to make weight for the second consecutive week, which resulted in a Red forfeit at 141 pounds. Despite widespread speculation about Frey’s status with the team, junior captain Jordan Leen affirmed Frey’s dedication.[img_assist|nid=27512|title=Fresh meat|desc=Freshman No. 2 Mike Grey defeats Hofstra’s No. 6 Lou Ruggirello in a 4-1 decision, helping the Red to a 28-14 upset of then-No. 12 Hofstra last Saturday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“Adam is willing to do whatever it takes to prove that he is going to be trustworthy,” he said.
The victory, however, came at a cost. Junior captain Jordan Leen and classmate Zach Hammond injured themselves during their respective matches and will most likely be unavailable for this weekend’s dual meets.
Cornell will first take on Columbia (3-3) at 1 p.m. Although the Red has easily handled its conference rival in past years, the Lions have won three of their last four games. Leen stated the importance of not taking the competition lightly.
“We can’t take Columbia for granted,” he said. “They have guys who go hard every match and always have a bunch of talented recruits. … I would like to say that we are deep enough to beat them with some of our guys out, but in Division I college wrestling, you can’t take anything for granted.”
According to Anceravage, some key matchups will be at 149 pounds, 197 pounds and 125 pounds. The 149-pound match is between Red freshman D.J. Meagher and the Lions’ Anthony Constantino. The 197-pound match will feature Cornell’s Justin Kerber and Columbia’s Nick Sommerfeld. Finally, the Red’s Mike Rodriguez will wrestle the Lions’ Brandon Kinney at 125 pounds.
“Each individual match will be a tough battle but as a team, Columbia shouldn’t be a problem for us,” Anceravage said.
The grapplers will have to recover quickly from their Columbia matches in order to face Wagner at 3 p.m. Wagner is a relatively new Division I program.
As a former member of the Cornell wrestling team, Wagner head coach Doug Jesse ’04 also has firsthand familiarity with the Red.
Senior Mike Tutunjian is arguably Wagner’s top athlete, as he recently was named the “Outstanding Wrestler” in the American College Division at the Virginia Duals.
“I think we expect to sweep Wagner and have the ability to sweep Columbia, but we’ll see what happens,” Leen said.
Although the squad is primarily concerned with preparing for the NCAA tournament, Anceravage believes the Red should gain momentum by performing well in the rest of its dual matches.
“Yes, there is no doubt we can win the rest of our matches,” he said.