February 13, 2009

Cornell Hosts Final Home Meet Against Princeton, Penn

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Sometimes teams will go into a match with butterflies in their stomachs, fear in their eyes and sweat already starting to lubricate their clenched fists. And sometimes they don’t. The wrestling squad should be the latter this weekend when it suits up for their second Ivy match of the season, a contest against Princeton (2-13, 5-1 EIWA) tomorrow. The next day, however, should be a bit more challenging for the Red, as they take on Penn (1-5, 5-1 EIWA), the closest thing to a rival Cornell (8-2, 1-0 EIWA)has among its Ancient Eight competitors.
[img_assist|nid=35087|title=Eye to eye|desc=Junior Taylor Moore (left) squares off against a Boise State opponent during the Body Bar Invite on Nov 22. This weekend marks the Red’s last homestand.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Head coach Rob Koll said that he was confident that his team, coming off a 39-6 win over Columbia last weekend, should have little trouble against the Tigers. “They’re not one of the top teams in the league” Koll said, diplomatically.
Senior captain Jordan Leen said the team would be approaching the meet with the same expectations as they had against Columbia.
“We’re going to light them up,” he said. “We should win all ten matches.”
Princeton, which will be driving to Ithaca to face a team that is healthy, coming off a big win last weekend, and had, according to Koll, “a great week in practice.”
Koll is looking to use the match as a warm-up for the Penn game the next day, and, characteristically, he will not be allowing his team to slack off despite the strong possibility that the Red will face little resistance.
“I have the ability to rest guys against Princeton,” Koll said. “But I’m not going to. I’m going to make them make weight two days in a row.”
Forcing his team to make weight on consecutive days should help them prepare for Nationals, when they will be forced to wrestle in multiple matches on multiple days, without any real periods of rest separating the weigh-ins.
The Penn match historically has been an important one for the Red, and the Ivy League in general, as the winner of the meet has more often than not come way with the Ivy title.
“[For the past decade] Penn has been the match that determine the Ivy champ,” Leen said. “This is a very big match for us this year.”
Because of the historical significance of the match, the Red and the Quakers have developed a rivalry of sorts.
“I like the coach,” Koll said, “So it makes it hard to hate the team. But I’m doing my best. I really like this rivalry, especially when we win.”
Always the strategist, Koll said that there are more than just bragging rights at stake Sunday.
“We have a lot of recruiting battles with [Penn],” he said. “We have to make sure that there’s an obvious difference between the two programs.”
According to Koll, Penn’s top wrestlers will be competing at 125 pounds, 149 pounds and Heavyweight, respectively.
“But I’m extremely confident in [junior] Troy [Nickerson, at 125 pounds],” he said. “And [sophomore] D.J. {Meagher, at 149 pounds] is just coming into his stride.
Cornell’s Heavyweight contender, senior Zach Hammond, as struggled in his past few matches, but Koll sais that his past issues should only serve as further motivation to compete well against Penn.
“This should be a great opportunity for him to turn his season around,” he said.”
Sunday will have added significance for the Red’s three seniors, Leen, Steve Anceravage and Hammond, for whom the match will be their last at the Friedman Wrestling Center.
“I hadn’t really realized that until a couple of days ago,” Leen said. “But now that I think about, it will be a little strange.”
While confident that any nostalgia will not negatively affect his wrestling, Leen said he has only fond memories of his five years with the Red.
As a freshman, Leen said the Penn match culminated in a dramatic victory, with the Red essentially upsetting the higher-ranked Quakers.
“It was a huge match for the team,” he said. “[But] four years later, the expectations are so much higher. We expect an Ivy title now. It makes me so proud —proud of the program, and of the things we’ve been able to accomplish.”