May 6, 2010

Cornell Athletics Rock the Nation in Season for the Ages

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Two individual national champions. A pair of national runner-ups. A Sweet 16 appearance.  Four regular season league championships. Three postseason league titles. Thirty-nine First-team All-Ivy selections.

That has been the 2009-10 scholastic year in Cornell sports.

When I decided to attend Cornell instead of Michigan or Georgetown about three years ago, I thought, oh well, I can always root for other college teams from afar. But somehow, what I clearly overlooked was the powerhouse that truly is Cornell athletics.

On the hardwood, Cornell won more games in the tournament this year than the Hoyas and Wolverines, combined. In fact, in the past three years, the Big Red has made the tournament as many times and won as many tourney games as the pair traditional heavyweights have put together.

On the ice, well, Georgetown doesn’t have a hockey program for either gender and Michigan only supports a varsity men’s team. Both squads from East Hill made the NCAA tournament this year, though, and the women made it all the way to the national championship game before falling in triple overtime.

The wrestling team also placed second in the country, with freshman Kyle Drake winning the national championship in the under 141 weight class. Michigan placed tied for 43rd at the event. Again, Georgetown doesn’t even offer the sport.

Okay, so I selectively chose some of Cornell’s top teams to prove a point, and yes, being part of a rowdy student section in the Big House and going crazy at the Verizon Center would be great. But Lynah, Newman and Schoellkopf aren’t too shabby themselves.

Cornell boasts 34 varsity sports. On a team level, our success rivals that of any other school nationwide. On an individual level, Ithaca is the temporary home for quite a few impressive athletes as well. Bryan Walters was picked up by the NFL’s San Diego Chargers last week. Ben Scrivens, Colin Greening and Brendon Nash have inked deals with NHL clubs in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, respectively.  Louis Dale, Jeff Foote and Ryan Wittman all seem to be locks to sign contracts to play pro ball either in the U.S. or abroad.

So you’re starting to get the picture I hope. The Big Red have been pretty darn good this year across the board, and anyone who thinks Cornell is all about academics (I’m looking at you DeMarcus “This ain’t no spelling bee” Cousins) is flat-out wrong.

That said, Cornell athletics aren’t done for the year. Track and Field is competing at Heps this weekend. Softball is taking on Harvard starting this afternoon, at home, in a best-of-three series for the Ivy crown (Anyone up for a “We didn’t go to Harvard because we’re not that ____ and they can’t play softball” chant? Bonus points if you can rhyme with softball). And men’s lacrosse is hosting the inaugural Ivy League tournament as the top seed, and will take on Brown tonight at 8 p.m.

So wake up from your post-Slope Day naps, shake off that evening hangover or just power through and go cheer for the Big Red. Not many schools around the country can take pride in the quantity and quality of athletics that we can, so while we’re still here, let’s enjoy it.

Original Author: Sam Aleinikoff