February 25, 2008

Wrestling Earns Sixth-Straight Title

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Just minutes after the No. 15 wrestling team dropped its fifth dual meet in six chances on Jan. 27, a 21-13 loss to Missouri, head coach Rob Koll’s rhetoric was drenched with optimism. Instead of giving excuses for why his team failed to win, he lauded his squad’s effort, cautioned against writing the Red off after facing such stiff competition, and confidently predicted a win over No. 12 Hofstra the following weekend. Almost one month later, the team has made Koll look like a soothsayer by winning eight straight dual meets, including a 28-14 thumping of Hofstra, and its sixth-straight Ivy League title with wins over Brown and Columbia this past weekend. [img_assist|nid=28164|title=Whats that smell|desc=Freshman No. 2 Mike Grey (top) beat Bucknell’s No. 18 David Marble by a 6-2 decision in the 133 pound weight class.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“Despite our rough start, whenever we had to get something done this season, it went our way,” said junior captain Jordan Leen.
The Red (9-5, 5-0 Ivy) reestablished its Ivy League dominance this weekend with a 31-9 win over Brown on Friday night at the Friedman Wrestling Center and a 37-9 victory over Harvard the following afternoon. Cornell also extended its dual match winning-streak to eight with a 26-7 win over Bucknell on Saturday night.
“Overall I think the weekend went great,” Leen said. “It’s nice to wrestle teams that aren’t as good as us and to totally overwhelm some people.”
Leen went on to explain the importance of capturing another Ivy League championship.
“[The Ivy League title] means a whole lot to us because of how many hurdles we had to overcome and the luck that we needed to capture it this year,” he said. “We just had so many injuries to key guys early this year. Guys like [junior and two-time All-American] Troy [Nickerson] being out for the season, [freshman] Mack Lewnes battling ankle problems and [junior returning All-American] Josh Arnone coming back from shoulder surgery.”
Cornell won eight of its 10 matches against Brown (7-7, 2-2) while seizing bonus points in four to secure a share of the Ivy League title. After senior Mike Mackie — filling in for injured an Mack Lewnes — earned a 3-2 decision over Chris Musser at 165 pounds, junior and No. 10 ranked Steve Anceravage pinned Kasey McCurdy in 1:46 to give Cornell a quick 9-0 lead. It was Anceravage’s fifth-straight pin and his 14th overall on the season.
“He can just flat out pin people,” Leen said. “I don’t even understand how he does it, but considering his competition, it’s really impressive.”
No. 17 Arnone proceeded to win a 10-5 decision at 184 and freshman Justin Kerber moved to 5-0 at 197 pounds with a 4-3 decision over Leo Saniuk to extend the Red lead to 15-0.
Against Harvard, Cornell jumped out to an early 10-0 lead as Grey beat Tommy Picarsic, 14-4. However, after the shut out bid ended when Nick Bridge lost a 5-3 decision at 141 pounds, freshman D.J Meagher and Leen sealed the match’s fate with a major decision and a technical fall, respectively.
The match against the Crimson began on a competitive note, but eventually the Red’s talent advantage overwhelmed Harvard to secure a 37-9 win. Rodriquez earned a victory by way of forfeit at 124 pounds. The remaining Cornell grapplers would not allow Harvard to earn another team point as the Red cruised to the Ivy League title. Matches of note included Leen’s entertaining 14-7 triumph over Craig Carpenter, Anceravage’s sixth-straight pin, Arnone’s Ivy League-clinching 12-6 win and Jochym’s first heavyweight dual match victory with a pin in 2:34.
“Maciej is the pride of Poland,” Leen said. “He combines a lot of ability with a whole lot of work ethic; he’s just tapping into how good he can be.”
The Red finished its dual meet season on Saturday evening with a 26-7 win over Bucknell. Cornell racked up six decisions and two major decisions to earn the victory. Anceravage earned bo
nus points in his seventh-straight match with a 13-3 major decision and Kerber’s record moved to 7-0 at 197 pounds with a 6-2 decision. After moving up two weight classes so far this season, Kerber is making the most of his opportunity at 197 pounds.
“It is just nothing short of remarkable what Justin has done this year,” Leen said. “He has wrestled with pulled quads all year and weighed in at 183 pounds this weekend, but he continues to beat guys. It just shows that if you keep grinding away, you can always catch a break.”
With the dual-meet season in its rear-view mirror, the Red will now turn its attention to the EIWA tournament in two weeks. According to Leen, Adam Frey, last year’s Ivy League Rookie of Year, will have a chance to enter the tournament as the team’s representative at 141 pounds if he continues to make weight and beats senior Nick Bridge in a wrestle-off next week.