February 11, 2008

Cornell Sweeps Dual Matches

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While the basketball team completed a thrilling sweep of the killer P’s (Penn and Princeton) at Newman this weekend, the wrestling team did not want to be outdone and cruised past Ivy rival Columbia, 30-5, and Wagner, 48-6, to complete a sweep of its own at the Friedman Wresting Center.
With the wins, the Red’s record in dual matches now improves to 4-5 (2-0 EIWA) for the year and its confidence continues to rise as the clock in the Friedman Center counts down the days to the NCAA tournament on March 20.
“Both of the matches went pretty much as we expected,” said junior Steve Anceravage. “We nearly swept Columbia and won every match against Wagner except for a forfeit.”
Cornell’s match with Columbia (4-5, 1-1) began at the 125-pound weight class, where the Red’s senior Mike Rodriguez took on fellow senior Brandon Kinney. After a scoreless first period, Kinney earned an escape from his down position in the second to take the lead. Rodriguez countered with an escape to tie up the match in the third but Kinney locked up the outcome with a takedown with 24 seconds remaining. A late Rodriguez escape was not enough to overcome the deficit and Kinney’s 3-2 decision not only gave Columbia a surprising early lead over Cornell but dashed any hopes of a Red sweep.
Freshman sensation and No. 2-ranked Mike Grey looked determined to right the Cornell ship at 133 pounds. After dominating the Lions’ Jerome Greco en route to a 9-2 lead in the first period, Grey never let up and earned his squad a 17-5 major decision to retake the team lead, 4-3.
Senior Nick Bridge followed suit by racking up three takedowns and three back points to earn a 10-0 major decision over Columbia’s Nick Standish and give Cornell an 8-3 lead.
Freshman D.J. Meager narrowly missed yet another major decision for the Red at 149 pounds with an 8-1 victory over Anthony Constantino.
The only other loss of the afternoon for the Red came at 157 pounds, where senior Matt Easter moved up from his normal weight class to see his first action of the season. Much like the 125-pound match, Easter and the Lions’ Matt Dunn were scoreless after the first period and tied late into the third. Yet Dunn’s takedown with 30 seconds left eventually became the decisive blow as he snuck past Easter for a 3-2 win.
Freshman No. 4 Mack Lewnes then beat Victor Mocco, 5-2, at 165 pounds, No. 10 Anceravge pinned Travis Creagen at 174 and sophomore Josh Arnone stayed undefeated in his second match of the year with an 8-0 major decision over Kenji Porter at 184 pounds.
The most exciting match of the day came at 197 pounds, where freshman Justin Kerber grappled against Nick Sommerfield. Kerber jumped out to an early 4-2 advantage in the first period with two takedowns, but Sommerfield quickly countered in the second with an escape and a takedown of his own to snag a 5-4 lead. Kerber started the third in the down position and escaped just late enough to allow Sommerfield to rack up over one minute in riding time. The Columbia Lion proceeded to avoid Kerber’s advances enough for the referee to award the Cornell grappler a point for stalling with 15 second left. However, Sommerfield’s riding time advantage evened up the score at 6-6 to end regulation.
“Kerber pushed the action the whole match and I think the Columbia wrestler just started to become tired and frustrated,” Anceravage said.
In overtime, Kerber reversed what appeared to be a takedown by Sommerfield to seize the hard-fought match and give Cornell an insurmountable 27-6 lead. The disgruntled Columbia bench then earned an unsportsmanlike conduct call to increase the Cornell lead to 27-5.
The Red’s fifth starting freshman, Maciej Jochym, won his home debut, 8-4, against Columbia’s Jed Wade in the heavyweight class to wrap up a 30-5 win for Cornell.
Anceravage noted how excited he was to have so many freshmen contributing for the Red.
“It’s great to have all the young guys out there for us,” he said. “With the exception of Lewnes, Grey and D.J. Meagher, the other freshman haven’t really had a chance to compete for us. It’s very good to get a match like this under their belts as freshmen, so next year, when they are wrestling Penn St. and other strong teams it won’t be such a shock. It is really good for the future of the program and shows just how much depth we have as a team.”
After a brief 15-minute break, Cornell matched up against Wagner. The Red used four pins, two technical falls, one major decision and a decision to beat the Seahawks 48-6. The only points for Wagner came at 184 pounds where Arnone was forced to forfeit due to an injury sustained against Columbia.
Although juniors Jordan Leen and Zach Hammond both did not compete on Saturday, Anceravage is confident that the team will be fully healthy next weekend against Penn and Princeton.
“Everybody will be fine,” he said.