January 26, 2009

Wrestling Falls Victim to Underdog Missouri

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The wrestling team got off to a great start in its dual meet yesterday. The second-ranked Red took a 14-3 lead into halftime against the 12th-ranked Missouri Tigers. Unfortunately for Cornell, the second half did not go nearly as well. The Tigers swept the five second-half matches en route to a shocking come-from-behind victory.
Cornell fell 14-18 when none of the wrestlers in the upper weight classes were able to earn a victory. Four of the five second-half matches were close, but Missouri came out on top in each of them. [img_assist|nid=34401|title=Don’t lose your head|desc=The wrestling team squandered several opportunities in a heartbreaking 18-14 loss to 12th-ranked Missouri.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“It was ridiculous that we couldn’t win one of those matches, absolutely ridiculous,” said freshman Cam Simaz.
The meet was not a complete disaster for the Red. Several wrestlers performed well, including junior Troy Nickerson.
Nickerson, who entered the weekend ranked second in the nation, dominated in the opening match of the day at the 125-pound weight class. He earned an early take down and did not relinquish the top position the remainder of the match. He scored five near falls and cruised to a 16-0 major decision.
“I scouted my opponent pretty well,” Nickerson said. “I knew I had to get on top of him and I knew the team needed me to score bonus points. I was excited to be the first match. I wanted to set the tone for the team.”
Sophomore Mike Grey followed with a thrilling 12-10 victory. Grey was on the bottom with the score tied at seven in the third period, but his opponent committed a one-point technical violation, and Grey followed with a reversal that allowed him to seize control of the match.
Grey’s classmate DJ Meagher won a closely-contested match against Andrew Sherry at 149 pounds. Meagher scored two near falls and had a 10-6 lead at one point in the third period when things started to unravel. He gave away two points after jumping the whistle and committing four cautions. Sherry was credited with a point on each of the last two cautions. Sherry then reversed Meagher to tie the match. Meagher stayed on bottom the remainder of the match knowing he held the edge in riding time, and therefore earned an 11-10 victory.
At 157 pounds, senior Jordan Leen defeated the ninth-ranked wrestler in his weight class. Leen scored an early take down and dominated riding time en route to a 5-2 triumph.
Junior John Basting stepped in for Mack Lewnes, who is nursing a few injuries, and competed in the 165-pound weight class. He led 1-0 against seventh-ranked Nick Marable entering the final period. It was downhill from that point forward for Cornell. In that period, Marable escaped from the down position, earned a point when Basting was called for stalling, and cemented a victory with a late take down.
“John Basting did a great job keeping it close against one of the top guys in the country,” Nickerson said.
Cornell still held a 14-6 lead at that point and needed to win one match and avoid allowing bonus points in the others to secure a victory. The Red had a higher-ranked wrestler in three of the remaining four weight classes, so the team’s prospects looked strong. The results were not as pretty.
Fifth-ranked senior Steve Anceravage struggled against the sixth-ranked wrestler in the weight class. He lost by a score of 10-5 in what was one of his weaker performances so far this season.
At 184 pounds, sophomore Justin Kerber spent nearly the entire match in neutral. Both wrestlers quickly escaped from the down position, and the match was tied at one late in the third period. Both wrestlers became aggressive late, but it was Missouri’s Dorian Henderson who scored the late take down. He prevailed 3-2.
At 197 pounds, freshman Cam Simaz performed well, but not quite well enough against the fourth-ranked wrestler in the weight class. He trailed 3-2 in the third period when he began to aggressively pursue his opponent. The Missouri wrestler attempted to stall –– a tactic that gave Simaz a point –– but Simaz lost 4-3 due to inferior riding time.
“I’m not 100 percent satisfied, but he’s a good kid and I think I wrestled pretty well,” Simaz said.
The meet came down to the heavyweight battle. Senior Zach Hammond fought to a scoreless draw through two periods. In the third, Hammond allowed his opponent to escape from down –– something he had been unable to do in the second period. Hammond could not secure the necessary take down and lost the match 2-0.
The loss was a disappointment for the Red, which had previously lost only to the top-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes.
“Physically, we came in prepared,” Nickerson said. “Mentally I don’t think our guys were there.”