July 19, 2009

Cornell Sports Overview: 2009 and Beyond

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It is not often that a team which finished in last place one year, finds itself as defending division champion the next season. Building a winning culture undoubtedly takes a few seasons of ups and downs. In fact, rarely do we ever see a team that has endured three consecutive last-place finishes all of sudden catapult itself to the top of the division. Shockingly, that is exactly what Cornell accomplished last year. In 2009, the Red captured only its second Gehrig Division title since the inception of divisional play in 1993.
After a successful debut at the helm of the Red, head coach Bill Walkenbach ’98 will look to fill the void left by a strong eight-member senior class. The 2009 squad was anchored by first-team All-Ivy third baseman Nathan Ford ’09 and second-team All-Ivy shortstop Scott Hardinger ’09.
The fortunes of the diamond squad appear optimistic for 2010 as the Red returns a steady core of experienced pitching, including a trio of rising junior arms, Jadd Schmeltzer, Corey Pappel and Mickey Brodsky. Rising senior first-team All-Ivy closer David Rochefort also returns to solidify the bullpen.

Men’s Basketball

The men’s basketball team followed up its 2007-08 season — that saw the team win its first Ivy championship in 20 years with an undefeated Ancient Eight record — with another dominant season in 2008-09. The Red claimed its second consecutive Ivy championship with an 11-3 record, then fell to No. 3 seed Missouri, 78-59, in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Cornell went 21-10 overall, including a 79-70 win over La Salle and a near-upset of national powerhouse Syracuse. The team is well-positioned to three-peat in the Ivy League with 10 rising seniors, including Ryan Wittman, Jeff Foote and Louis Dale, looking to make an impact in their last year on the hill. Rising sophomore Chris Wroblewski, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, will play a big role on a squad of veterans after putting up 6.7 points per game and 2.6 assists per game in limited action during his rookie campaign. The 2009-10 schedule is studded with big games for the Red — the team will take on national powerhouse Kansas on Jan. 5 at the famous Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. Cornell also is tentatively scheduled to participate in the ECAC Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden and in a rematch with Syracuse.

Women’s Basketball

After reaching the NCAA tournament in 2008, the women’s basketball team had a tough season in 2009. The team posted a 10-16 overall record and 6-8 in the Ivy League. Cornell opened the season with promise but endured a tough end to the season, denying the Red’s chances at a playoff berth. The team finished the season in a three-way tie for fourth in the Ivy League.
This season the Red hopes to turn its game around with a new assistant coach, Julious Coleman, and a strong recruiting class. The Red will add six members of the class of 2013 to its roster. The team only graduated two seniors and is looking to build heading into the 2009-10 season.

Men’s / Women’s Cross Country

The men’s and women’s cross country teams worked hard this season, with the women finishing off their season with another ECAC Championship title — their third in four years — while the men earned a third-place finish at the Heptagonals meet and a sixth-place finish at the Northeast Regional competition. The women earned fourth place and sixth place, respectively, at the Heps and Regionals meets. Both the men and women will be losing three letter winners each from their squads, with the men saying a special goodbye to star senior Zac Hine, who topped off a stellar Cornell career with a top-100 finish at the 2008 Cross Country Individual Championships. With both squads keeping more veterans than they will be losing, however, the Red can remain fairly confident about its upcoming season.


The equestrian team capped off a stellar season with a first-place showing at the Ivy League Championships in Westford, Mass., last April. Four Cornell riders captured individual titles, with three more finishing as reserve champions. However, the highlight of the team’s season came on Nov.16, when it rallied for a come-from-behind victory over regional powerhouse Skidmore at the Morrisville Show –– a feat the Red had not accomplished in over a year. The team would duplicate its first-place finish in late Feb., topping the rival Thoroughbreds by five points while hosting the Cornell Show at the Oxley Equestrian Center. This season the team will be without graduated seniors Dana Kendrick and Caroline Shulman, both regional qualifiers and consistent top-performers for the Red. Looking to fill the void left by the departed captains will be rising juniors Rachel Klion, Georgina Melbye and Scotty Weber, who had a standout season last year as a rookie, as well as veteran talent like Zoe Samuel and Heather Sherman.


With most of its starting fencers returning, the fencing team is looking forward to improve their record after 2008-2009’s seven wins and six losses. Although the team placed 6th in the Ivy League Championships, The Red was proud to send four women to the NCAA Fencing Championships, where they placed between 19th and 24th in their respective weapons. The team also hopes to continue improving its skills with a second year of weight-training and yoga practice meant to aid the team’s strength and coordination. Head Coach Iryna Dolgikh summed up the team best when she said, “My girls are polite, but on the strip, they are like tigers.”

Field Hockey

Cornell enjoyed a breakout season in 2008. The team posted a 6-1 Ancient Eight record, falling only to an undefeated Princeton squad. The Red consistently hovered around the top 20 teams nationally, and defeated many ranked teams. Cornell graduated a group of instrumental seniors but has a strong six-member recruiting class from the class of 2013. Cornell will be looking for underclassmen to step up and fill the shoes of top talent like Belen Martinez ’09 and Abbi Horn ’09. Look for rising senior goalkeeper Melanie Jue to continue her dominance between the pipes this season.


All gridiron observers at Schoellkopf Field knew this day would come eventually. Nathan Ford ’09 was not going to run the offense forever. Tim Bax ’09 was not going to patrol the backfield forever. While these two mainstays on both sides of the ball graduated last spring, Cornell must also fill the void left by an unusually large 33-member senior class in 2008.
Last season, the Red struggled to establish a consistent running attack, often taking to the air with the Ivy League’s No. 1 passing offense. Expect the revitalization of the ground game as rising senior running back Randy Barbour has been tabbed to be the featured workhorse in the backfield.
On defense, rising junior safety Dempsey Quinn displayed ferocity in the annual Red-White spring game and should be a menacing force for the Red in 2009.
Expect to see a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball as Cornell scrambles to replace 11 of its 17 starters lost last season to graduation.


While starting off strong, the men’s golf team struggled during the second half of its 2008-09 season, falling behind its Ivy League rivals as the weather warmed and finishing with what some veteran members of the team might describe as a less than stellar overall record. September was a strong month for the team, with the Red finishing amongst the leaders at both the Navy Fall Classic and Cornell’s own Invitational. However, disappointing finishes at the Big Five Invite, the Towson Invite and Princeton Invite were followed by a seventh-place finish at this year’s Ivy League Championships, held in Atlantic City, N.J. Robert Cronheim, a senior this season, will need to continue his strong play if the Red hopes to improve in 2009-10.


The gymnastics team couldn’t ask for a better finish to its 2009 season, becoming the first non-scholarship program ever to win the USAG Collegiate National team championship. The Red also enjoyed a successful regular season, going 4-2 in dual meets and qualifying seven gymnasts for the USAG individual national championships. This upcoming season, the team will seek to compensate for the loss of graduating senior Stacey Ohara. Not only did Ohara lead the team at Nationals, finishing first on beam and floor, but she also became Cornell’s first-ever USAG individual national champion on beam, posting a score of 9.850. Rising junior Maddie Pearsall followed up her breakout rookie season with an equally impressive sophomore year, as she posted a career-best 38.600 in the all-around competition at the USAG Championships –– the third-highest score in Cornell history. The Red will look for her and other veteran competitors to keep up the team and maintain its National standing.

Men’s Ice Hockey

What Cornell sports fans will likely most remember about the men’s hockey team’s 2008-09 season is the heartbreaking defeat at the hands of little-known Bemidji State –– a loss that denied the Red its first Frozen Four berth since 2002-03. The loss was perhaps symbolic of the season as a whole, in which the 22-10-4 (13-6-3 ECAC) Red came up just short on several occasions, finishing as the runner-up in the ECAC Hockey tournament and regular season. Head coach Mike Schafer is hoping that the incoming class will supplement a squad of proven veterans and provide Cornell with the extra edge necessary to advance to the Frozen Four. The group of 10 newcomers –– half of whom stand 6-0 or taller –– includes six forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender. Defensemen Braden Birch and Nicholas D’Agostino were both drafted in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, and this season D’Agostino will be reunited with two of his former St. Michael’s Buzzers teammates –– Erik Axell and Greg Miller. The Red faces a tough 2009-10 schedule that features at least eight regular-season games against teams that advanced to the NCAA tournament last year, among them defending national champion Boston University.

Women’s Ice Hockey

The women’s ice hockey team had mixed results in 2008, posting a 12-14-5 overall record. The team was led by freshman Catherine White, who posted 18 goals and 26 assists for the Red. White returns for her sophomore season with a lot of experience and is expected to lead the team to a strong season. Cornell also added three members of the class of 2013 to its roster for the 2009-10 season. The Red will suit up for its first game on Oct. 18 at Lynah Rink for an exhibition game against the Toronto Aeros.

Men’s Lacrosse

A rollercoaster of Big Red emotion, the men’s lacrosse season never lacked in excitement this season. Head coach Jeff Tambroni, this year’s USILA Coach of the Year, led the Red to the national championship game for the first time in over ten seasons. However, ever the tease, the Red lost the match to inter-state rival Syracuse following a heartbreaking, 10-9 overtime finish. Despite the second-place finish, Cornell made it clear to the Division I community that the Ivy League is not to be disparaged, finishing with a 13-4 overall record, a share of its seventh-straight Ivy League title, and its second Final Four appearance in three years. The Red will miss its departing seniors, including star midfielders Max Seibald and John Glynn, who have both racked up an astounding number of awards over their Cornell careers. This now includes the 2009 Tewaaraton Trophy, the highest honor awarded in collegiate lacrosse, awarded this year to Seibald. However, Tambroni will have a very talented group to work with, led by breakout rising sophomore forward Rob Pannell and seniors Chris Ritchie and Ryan Hurley.

Women’s Lacrosse

The women’s lacrosse team spent the offseason picking up an especially large recruiting class for the 2010 season. In 2009 the team posted a 9-7 overall record, while holding a 3-4 record in the Ivy League. The team graduated four very decorated seniors, including one of its top scorers, Jessica Wiegand ’09. However, this young team shows a lot of potential for returning to the top of the Ivy League for the second time in four years. The Red added 12 to its roster, comprised of 11 members of the class of 2013 and a sophomore transfer. Though young, this is a talented team to watch in 2010.

Men’s / Women’s Polo

Both polo squads had stellar seasons in 2008-09 — the men were 16-5 and the women 22-1. Unfortunately both teams fell short of their hopes for a national championship. The men were edged out by defending champion Texas A&M in the national semifinals, 20-14. The teams were tied at 14 with 3:10 left to play, but the Aggies stormed out of a break and scored six goals in the remaining time to down the Red. The women made it one round further before falling to Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., in the national championship game. The women’s team had a 14-12 lead heading into the fourth chukker but Virginia battled back for the win. Both teams are well-stocked to compete in 2009-10 with the men returning rising junior Max Constant and the women fielding a roster of six returners and two freshmen eager to replace Ariana Constant ‘09.

Men’s / Women’s Rowing

Cornell crew continued its tradition of excellence in 2009, although the lightweight team was unable to capture its fourth consecutive IRA national title, finishing fifth at the race in Sacramento, Calif. In 2009, coach Todd Kennett ‘91 spent his first year at the helm of the heavyweight crew after 17 years coaching the lightweights at Cornell. Under Kennett, the heavyweights went 11-0 during the season, but finished ninth at the season-ending IRA championships. Chris Kerber took over the coaching job for the lightweights, and helped the crew to a 4-3 record. The women, after graduating seven seniors in 2008, stumbled to a 2-8 record under coach Hilary Gehman. Look for all three teams to keep competing at the highest level and adding to the legacy of Cornell rowing in 2010.

Men’s Soccer

After a dreadful 1-15 campaign in 2008, Cornell will look to erase a forgettable season in 2009. First-year head coach Jaro Zawislan faces this daunting challenge. The former Syracuse assistant inherits a team that has earned only one victory in Ivy League action over the past two years.
In 2008, the Cornell offense not only struggled, but was shutout 11 times. The Red must find a way to replace second-team All-Ivy defenseman Joe Yonga ’09 and All-Ivy honorable mention Dan McKallagat ’09. Expect rising senior forward Matt Bouaree, an All-Ivy honorable mention, to continue to carve up opposing defenses. Bouaree led the Red with three goals and six points last season.

Women’s Soccer

The women’s soccer team had a tough 2008 season, finishing with a 2-12-1 record overall and 1-6-0 in the Ivy League. The Red’s only Ancient Eight win came in an upset against No. 4-ranked Brown. The team is looking to break out this season after many years of building up strong recruiting classes and maturity. The team graduated only one senior and will continue to build on the lessons that it learned in the 2008 season. Cornell added 11 members of the class of 2013 to its roster during the off-season. This young team will face tough opposition in the Ancient Eight, but has a talented set of players for the 2009 season.


An effective blend of young talent and veteran leadership carried the softball team to a dominant 42-13 (17-3 Ivy) 2009 season –– one that culminated in the Red’s second Ivy League Championship in five years and fourth in school history. Not only will the team be looking to repeat as Ivy champs in 2010, but it will also seek to advance further in the NCAA tournament. Cornell’s bid for a national title was denied as it fell to first UMass and then Sacred Heart in the opening games of the tournament. Back-to-back conference titles and a deeper run at the NCAAs are not unattainable goals for the Red, which returns a crop of proven talent that includes Ivy League Player of the Year shortstop Alyson Intihar, Pitcher of the Year Elizabeth Dalrymple and first-team All-Ivy selection third baseman Elise Menaker, whose late-game heroics against Dartmouth broke a 1-1 tie in the rubber match of the Ivy Playoffs. Dalrymple returns to the mound as the undisputed ace of the pitching staff after leading the Red in both wins (19) and ERA (1.42). Rounding out the starting rotation will be rising junior Ali Tomlinson, who finished second on the team with 16 wins, and sophomore Lauren Marx. Notable departures include first-team All-Ivy selection Jessy Berkey ’09 and co-captain Meg Risica ’09 –– both of whom posted career-highs in several offensive categories, including batting average, home runs, RBIs and runs scored in 2009.

Sprint Football

Cornell finished the 2008 season ranked second in the CSFL with a 3-1 conference record and 5-2 overall. Navy finished in the top spot with a 4-0 conference record and perfect 7-0 season. Among many others (there were 21 seniors on the 2008 roster), the team will have to replace quarterback Zak Dentes, receiver Michael Brennan and defensive back Matt Malleo, all who set school records and helped to build the Cornell sprint football program. The team’s 12-10 win over Army at West Point, N.Y., marked the first time since 1987 that the Red toppled the Black Knights twice in a row. The experienced, disciplined defense should be the cornerstone of the 2009 team, but there are question marks on offense behind quarterback Elliot Corey.

Men’s / Women’s Squash

The men’s team continued to thrive in the national spotlight last season with a 13-5 overall record and posted a 4-2 mark against Ivy competition. The Red ranked sixth nationally last year and will be led by rising senior co-captain Chris Sachvie and junior co-captain McKay Claghorn. Sachvie received All-Ivy honors as well as second-team All-American accolades last season.
The women’s team enjoyed similar success last season, ranking No. 6 in the nation as well with a 10-6 overall record. Rising senior Liza Stokes and sophomore Lauren Sachvie will serve as captains during the 2009-10 season. Sachvie also led the Red with an 11-4 individual record last season.

Men’s / Women’s Swimming and Diving

Cornell Swimming and Diving had mixed success in its 2009 season. The men’s team, led by Phil Baity ‘09 and Wes Newman ’09, was able to post breakout performances in the dual meet season and had an explosive performance at EISL championships. The men’s team finished third in both the dual meet season and at championships. Newman was added to the Red’s coaching staff during the offseason and will continue to provide leadership to the men’s team. Watch for rising sophomore Michael Cai to continue to make headlines in 2010 after being one of the top freshman breaststrokers in the Ancient Eight in 2009. The women’s team had a tough season, but has been building up slowly. The team finished last in the Ivy League and wasn’t able to take home any dual meet wins, but continued to have better performances than in previous years.

Men’s / Women’s Tennis

The men’s tennis team snuck into the No. 2 spot in the Ivy League in 2009. During the team’s spring season, the Red was able to pick up a 5-2 record in the Ancient Eight. The Red also went undefeated at Reis Tennis Center, holding a 7-0 record against its opponents. The team adds five members of the class of 2013 to its ranks, hoping to repeat its 2009 campaign in 2010. The women’s team had a much more difficult time during its 2009 season. The Red finished with a 6-14 overall record and 5-2 in the Ancient Eight –– good enough for fifth among its northeast rivals. The team has added five new members to its squad, hoping to use young blood to reinvigorate its chances for the 2009-10 season.

Men’s / Women’s Track and Field

Both the men’s and women’s track teams come off impressive seasons as the men captured their seventh straight Heps title and the women finished second in the Heps competition.
Seven Cornell athletes competed for All-American recognition to close out the campaign. The men’s team will look to fill the void left by Garrett Huyler ’09 in the high jump and Jimmy Wyner ’09. Meanwhile, the women’s team must find a way to replace All-American Jeomi Meduka ’09, who placed seventh in the long jump at the NCAA Championships.
Rising senior Duane Teixeira will be a key contributor in the long jump next season in Huyler’s absence. Expect rising junior Adrien Dannemiller to continue his success in the 3000 meter steeplechase.
Rising senior Stephanie Pancoast should also help lead the Red to another impressive season. Pancoast was an at-large selection in the steeplechase event at the NCAA Championships in 2009.


A mix of veterans and rookies made for an interesting season for the volleyball team this year. Led by senior captain and setter Hilary Holland and head coach Deitre Collins-Parker, the Red finished the season in a tie for third place. A group of confident seniors — Holland, middle blocker Emily Borman and outside hitter Kathryn Woodbury –– worked hard to show a still relatively youthful squad the Division I ropes. The team’s second rebuilding year saw a huge improvement from the 2007 season, a testament to the trio’s efforts, as well as the strong coaching staff. This season’s captains, rising seniors Juliana Woodbury and Megan Mushovic will work to build upon the strong foundations left by their predecessors. Mushovic has excelled so far in her position as libero, setting multiple personal as well as program records over the past three years. Following the departure of Collins-Parker for a new post at San Diego State, the squad will be led by the very capable Sarah Bernson, the assistant coach last year and alumnae of St. Mary’s College in California.


A powerhouse on both the Ivy League and national stage, the wrestling team once again proved why teams from across the country now dread dual matches with the Red. Led by the always colorful head coach Rob Koll as well as one of the strongest senior classes in collegiate wrestling, the Red pummeled its way to an undefeated 5-0 record in the Ivy League — and a seventh-straight Ivy title — as well as a 12-2 overall record, including wins against such programs as Michigan, Penn State and Iowa State. Four individual champions earned the Red its third-straight EIWA title and an automatic bid in the NCAAs, where the No. 2 squad finished a tough fifth overall. However, the NCAAs were also the stage for rising senior Troy Nickerson’s national title at 125 pounds, an impressive performance by the diminutive champion that capped off a fantastic, 25-0 overall individual record.