March 24, 2008

No. 8 Leen Wins National Title

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The wrestling team completed yet another impressive season under head coach Rob Koll as it earned 67 team points to capture a ninth-place finish at the NCAA tournament in St. Louis, Mo., last weekend. This is the third top-10 national finish for the team in the last four years and marks the fourth straight season in which four Red grapplers qualified as individual All-Americans, an EIWA record.
Leading the way for Cornell, both on and off the mat, was junior captain Jordan Leen. Leen, who was ranked No. 8 in the 157-pound bracket, won all five of his matches to capture the first National championship by a Cornell wrestler since Travis Lee won the 133-pound bracket in 2005. After winning tight matches in his first two bouts, Leen shut out No. 1 seed Gregor Gillespie of Edinboro to advance to the semifinals. In the finals, the exhausted captain snuck out a thrilling 5-4 decision over Illinois’ No. 2 ranked Michael Poeta to become the lowest seeded athlete to win a national championship in this year’s tournament.
Freshman, and No. 4 ranked Mack Lewnes, was the only true freshman to make it to the semifinals of the tournament after he defeated his first three opponents in the 165-pound bracket. The most exciting of these matches was a 6-5 sudden death victory over Nebraska’s Stephen Dwyer to secure his first All-American accolades. Lewnes went on to lose a 4-0 decision to No. 1 ranked Eric Tannenbaum in the semifinals as well as a 3-2 decision to Missouri’s No. 3 ranked Nick Marable to eventually take fourth place.
Fellow freshman, and No. 8 ranked, Mike Grey also made some noise in the 133-pound bracket by cruising through his first three matches and a first-round bye before losing to Illinois’ No. 2 ranked James Kennedy in the quarterfinals. Eventually Grey earned Al-American status with a sixth-place finish.
The final Cornell All-American was junior, and No. 11 ranked, Steve Anceravage. The grappler fell to Nebraska’s No. 3 ranked Brandon Browne in the quarterfinals. Anceravage then beat Oklahoma State’s No. 9 Brandon Mason to lock up his first All-American honors, eventually finishing in sixth place.