February 15, 2010

Wrestling Dominates Weekend Competition

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There are wins. And then there are blowouts. The wrestling team was on the giving end of two such victories this past weekend, defeating Penn on its home turf, 31-3, before traveling to Princeton to send an even harsher message to the Tigers with a commanding, 46-3 win, including five pins with seven wins including bonus points.

While Penn has matched up well against the Red in the past, Friday’s competition made a decisive statement about Cornell’s dominance in the Ivy League as it solidifies its bid for an eighth-straight title amongst the Ancient Eight.

At the Palestra, head coach Rob Koll decided to rest star senior Troy Nickerson, wrestling junior Frank Perrelli at 125 pounds. Perrelli dominated both of his opponents, proving that on any other squad, the aggressive New Jersey native would be a standout starter.

At 133 the ever-consistent junior Mike Grey, No. 11, started earning points early in the first period, and held the lead through the third period. Despite two additional takedowns in that period, Grey was unable to complete the major decision, letting his opponent escape with eight seconds left to fall one point short, 10-3.

No. 1 senior Kyle Drake continued his dominant run at 141 pounds, holding his opponent at bay throughout the first and second periods before solidifying the win in the third as Penn’s wrestler vented his frustration and was charged with unnecessary roughness.

Junior Corey Manson faced a difficult opponent in No. 9 Cesar Grajales at 149 pounds. The two were tied at the start of the second period. The match was close down the wire, but Manson carried the point total, 7-6, with close to two minutes in riding time. Manson has been steadily improving throughout the season, with both performances this weekend being no exception. The match was a bit of a momentum builder for the Red, Grey said.

“It was turning point for the upper weights, and just gave everyone a little extra,” he said.

The Red was handed its first and only loss at 157, as sophomore Derek Schriener wrestled hard, but was unable to overcome the Penn wrestler’s late takedown, losing 5-2.

No. 16 junior Justin Kerber wrestled up against No. 18 Gabriel Burak at the 165 spot. After a scoreless first period, Burak scored the first point of the match after an early escape, but Kerber tied it back up with an escape of his own in the third. With 11 seconds left in the match, a Kerber takedown earned Cornell the win in dramatic fashion, 3-1.

Next up was junior No. 1 Mack Lewnes, looking to continue his undefeated season. With riding time and multiple takedowns, Lewnes won the match with an easy major decision, 13-4.

“We just matched up really well against Penn,” Grey said. “When they were good, we were better.” Grey gave as an example, the matchup at 174 pounds. Penn’s Scott Griffin is a formidable athlete –– but unfortunately for Griffin, he had to contend with the best wrestler in the country in that weight class, Lewnes.

Another ranked wrestler for the Red followed, with No. 17 sophomore Steve Bosak rising to the occasion at 184 pounds. Bosak pushed hard in the first two periods before settling the match with a pin at 4:32.

No. 5 sophomore Cam Simaz started the match down, after allowing Penn’s wrestler an escape and a technical violation. Simaz pulled back with a takedown, and finished him off with a late escape, 5-3.

With the Red in possession of an insurmountable lead, senior Josh Arnone earned two takedowns to ice the Red’s cake with a 6-2 decision, bringing the team total to 31-3.

The Red followed up the Penn performance with dominant performance against Princeton, with each Red wrestler earning the win with the exception again of Schreiner.

The Red finished the match with pins from Bosak, Simaz and Arnone.

“I think [the weekend] was an indication of how hard we train,” Grey said. “And how prepared we are. We are going to continue to train really hard to try to peak at the right time.”

This weekend will be the Red’s last at home, giving the team a chance to honor its seniors as it continues to prepare for the upcoming EIWAs and NCAAs.

Original Author: Meredith Bennett-Smith