December 2, 2008

Lewnes Aims to Improve on Stellar Rookie Season

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Last season, Mack Lewnes had one of the most successful campaigns of any freshman in Cornell wrestling history. He went undefeated in the EIWA championships, advanced farther at Nationals than any other freshman and was named the National Freshman of the Year by Amateur Wrestling News. With a year of experience under his belt, Lewnes hopes to achieve even greater results this season.
Lewnes was a four-time Maryland State Champion while attending Mount Saint Joseph High School. He graduated in 2006, but did not immediately come to Cornell. “He went to Colorado Springs [Colo.] for a year to take a few courses to lighten his course load and train at the Olympic Training center,” said wrestling head coach Rob Koll.
While there, Lewnes trained against some of the nation’s elite competitors. “It was a really great experience to go out to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs,” Lewnes said. “I got to wrestle with the top wrestlers in the nation. It really helped me out as far as getting stronger and developing a good work ethic.”
Lewnes arrived at Cornell in the fall of 2007 and was immediately a force for the wrestling team. Wrestling exclusively in 165-pound weight class, he won the first twelve matches of his collegiate career. He went on to win an EIWA championship, and was named EIWA Freshman of the Year.
At Nationals, Lewnes advanced all the way to the semifinals — the only freshman in any weight class to accomplish that. He placed fourth overall in his weight class and finished the season at 36-5, including 13 pins.
“I think I did well,” he said. “I would have liked to have not lost, but with every loss I had, I learned a lot.”
Now a sophomore, Lewnes has his sights set on advancing past the semifinals. When asked about his goals for Lewnes this season, Koll kept things simple.
“National championship — nothing less,” he said.
Lewnes’ teammates agree that he will once again be a force at Nationals. “He wants to win a National title and without a doubt, I know he can do it,” said classmate Mike Grey. “He’s the real deal.”
Koll wrestled against Lewnes in practice and claims that the experience was not nearly as enjoyable as he may have hoped.
“I wrestled with him the other day and he’s taken the fun out of that for me,” Koll said. “The only good thing that came out of it was that I was able to learn that the lights need to be cleaned out [because he had me on my back most of the time].”
Lewnes is already off to a 6-0 start this season, including an impressive 7-2 victory against Penn State’s Mark Friend. He is among three Cornell wrestlers who were invited to participate in the All-Star Classic hosted by Ohio State University. In Columbus, Ohio, Lewnes will look for revenge against Missouri’s Nick Marable, the man who defeated him in the battle for third place at last year’s Nationals. Lewnes is currently the top-ranked wrestler in the 165-pound weight class, while Marable is third.
“He’s every coach’s dream come true,” Koll said, “He’s a great wrestler, a great student, and a great person. He’s the perfect package.”