A crowd of over 4,200 came out to Newman Arena this past Sunday to wave their foam bear claws in support of the Cornell wrestling team. The Red and its fans were also given a chance to remember former teammate Adam Frey, who died of cancer on Dec. 26. A halftime presentation was given in his honor, and fundraising for the match amounted to $8,000 for the Adam Frey Fund.
Despite a strong start to the match, the Red (3-4-1) was overtaken by No. 2 Iowa State (10-2). The meet ended with a score of 24-13 in favor of the Cyclones.
Senior Troy Nickerson started the meet off with a thrill. Despite a nagging shoulder injury following two bouts in surgery, Nickerson won by fall within his first minute of competition against Iowa State’s Andrew Long.
At 125 pounds, Nickerson is ranked No. 2 nationally while freshman Long is No. 5.
Next up was Junior Mike Grey at 133 pounds against Iowa State senior Nick Fanthorpe. The match ended with a Cyclone win, 6-3.
“Grey went for a big move and ended up on his back,” said head coach Rob Koll, “which can‘t happen when you’re up against a highly ranked wrestler.”
Red fans were nothing but impressed with the performance of freshman Kyle Dake. Dake finished his match with a score of 7-1 over Iowa State’s Dalton Jensen, a sophomore ranked No. 14 at 141 pounds. Dake is currently the top wrestler in his weight class nationally. Dake secured one takedown in the first period but racked up the majority of his points in the final round with a reversal, another takedown and a total riding time of 2:43. Jensen’s only point came in the third round with a reversal. At this point, the Red had the lead, 9-3.
The next two rounds were rough on the Red, as Iowa State wrestlers took both the 149-pound and 157 pound matches by decision.
Going into halftime, the two teams were tied, 9-9. Scoring was temporarily put aside, however, as Adam Frey’s mother was brought to the center of the mat for a presentation in her son’s honor. Cindy Frey was presented with a Cornell singlet shadow box –– a fitting honor, as this is how senior wrestlers are honored each year, and this would have been Adam’s senior year. The appearance of Cindy Frey brought the majority of the audience to their feet immediately, reflecting the great deal of support the Freys have received from the wrestling program and the community.
Jumping back into the action, junior Justin Kerber went up against Iowa State’s No. 3 Jon Reader at 165 pounds. Kerber gained four points in the last two rounds by consistently managing escapes, but Reader successfully racked up 14 points through five takedowns, one escape, and a total riding time of 4:30. Reader ended the match with a win by major decision.
At 174 pounds, junior Mack Lewnes would prove to be the shining light of the second-half as he took down opponent Chris Spangler by major decision. Lewnes, ranked No. 1 in his weight class and the holder of two EIWA individual titles, secured one takedown in each period and a near fall in the second. The match ended 11-2 as Lewnes secured an additional point for his riding time of 3:06.
“First and foremost wrestling is an individual sport. You’ve got to focus on winning your own match … unfortunately we lost as a team but there were a lot of really positive points.” Lewnes said.
Lewnes had managed to even up the score, 13-13, but as one Red fan noted, “Just wait till they bring out Varner.”
The matchup between sophomore Steve Bosak and Iowa State’s Jerome Ward at 184 pounds ended in the Cyclone’s favor, 3-2. Within the third period, Bosak managed two escapes but Ward secured a takedown in with just 39 seconds left to give him the lead. Bosak worked till the end for an escape but was evaded.
The next match put sophomore Cam Simaz up against Iowa State’s prized Jake Varner, ranked No. 1 at 197 pounds. Although No. 5 Simaz, who gained All-American honors last year and cinched 35 victories as a freshman, is known to be successful, going up against Varner was expected to be a challenge. Varner is the defending NCAA 197-pound champion, and as a senior in college has already competed at the World Championships as a member of the US Freestyle team. The match ended with Varner winning by technical fall, 19-1.
“Realistically I knew we were underdogs for the last three matches,” Lewnes said, “Going up against the number one guy was tough for Cam Simaz, but Josh Arnone just barely lost. The same for Steve Bosak. It’s not like it was real far out of reach.”
The final match, between heavyweight competitors senior Josh Arnone for the Red and Iowa State’s No. 4 David Zabriskie, ended 3-1 in favor of the Cyclones.
“Wrestling against the No. 4 kid in the country was asking a lot of Josh. But I also have a lot of confidence in him.” Coach Koll said.
In regards to the final score, 13-24, Nickerson summed it up saying, “I don’t think the final score reflected how close the match really was.”
With several strong individual performances and an impressive tournament record so far, the team is confident going into the rest of their season and ultimately to Nationals. Next Saturday’s dual match against Columbia and Hofstra will start off the Ivy portion of the team’s season as they will face five members of the Ancient Eight in the next three weeks.
“Some say this is the fun part of the season,” Lewnes said, “Beating up on people, competing against the other Ivies, we’re feeling good.”
Original Author: Chyanne Eyde