February 13, 2011

Wrestling Dominates Ivy Foes; Rob Koll Becomes Winningest Head Coach

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The Cornell wrestling team continued to plow through the competition this weekend at Friedman Wrestling Center, easily beating No. 19 Penn, 28-9, Friday night, and then shutting out Princeton, 44-0, Saturday afternoon.

“Not a whole lot to be upset about obviously,” said head coach Rob Koll. “Penn was a great win for a lot of those kids, in particular [seniors Frank] Perrelli and [Mike] Grey and [junior Cam] Simaz. A loss in those matches would have had far-reaching consequences in the Easterns. It would have made their road to Nationals a lot more difficult, so it was great to be able to pull off those victories.”

As Koll said, there wasn’t much to be upset about. There was however a lot to be celebrated, starting with his personal accomplishment. With the win over Penn, Koll picked up his 203rd career victory, tying Jimmy Miller, who led the team from 1947-1974, for the most wins by any Cornell wrestling head coach. Koll then surpassed Miller on Saturday afternoon making him the winningest coach in Cornell wrestling history.

Koll, in his 23rd year with the program and 18th as head coach, was genuinely humble about the accomplishment, recounting how far the program has come since he took over in 1993, acknowledging the work of his predecessors Jack Spates and current athletic director, Andy Noel.

“I have to admit, it makes me think to my­self … I’ve been here a long time,” he said in disbelief.

As for the action on the mat, sophomore Kyle Dake (141 pounds) and senior D.J. Meagher (157 pounds) each recorded pins in the Penn match. Meagher along with fellow senior Mack Lewnes, who wrestled at 184 pounds instead of his usual 174 pounds, each won by fall in the Princeton match with junior Cam Simaz (197 pounds) and sophomore Stryker Lane (Heavyweight) picking up wins in the same fashion.

With the six pins this weekend, the team helped raise $12,120 for the wrestling program as part of the “Big Red wrestling pin pool.” According to Koll, there are 120 participants who are pledging anywhere from $1 to $100, with the current pool standing at $2,020 per pin.

“It’s been an incredibly successful campaign and promotion for us to help get more of our alumni involved in the fundraising process,” Koll said. “And they also feel like they’re truly helping out the team — helping us encourage these guys to get more pins.”

In addition to Dake and Meagher’s pins on Friday, the Red also scored big with wins from seniors Perrelli (125 pounds), Grey (133 pounds) and Lewnes (174 pounds), junior Steve Bosak (184 pounds) and Simaz.

Lane, senior Corey Manson (141 pounds) and freshman Craig Eifert (165 pounds) all lost their matches. Eifert wrestled up a weight division, filling in for injured senior Justin Kerber —wrestling at 165 pounds instead of his normal 157.

On Saturday’s Senior Day every wrestler who took to the mat won his match, including freshman Jessee Shanaman (165 pounds), who filled in for Kerber. Bosak sat out in order to allow teammate Lewnes to wrestle one last time in front of the home fans. Princeton forfeited at the 174-pound division, so Lewnes forfeited as well. This gave him the opportunity to wrestle in place of Bosak at 184 pounds.

Unfortunately for Kerber, a bad knee prevented him from getting one more chance to wrestle at Friedman.

“It was pretty tough,” he said with regards to having to sit out his final home match. “I obviously had a desire to wrestle another match in front of the home crowd at Friedman. In the end I had to weigh that against what was probably the better decision as far as the rest of the season goes. It was just more prudent to rest my knee.”

Kerber said he was nonetheless pleased with being able to cheer on his teammates and watch them dominate from the sidelines. He also said he was also happy with the unofficial send-off the crowd gave him in his last home match against Binghamton two weeks ago where he gutted out a win after injuring his knee in the middle of the match.

Although the end of the season is still roughly a month away, this weekend marked the first end-of-season milestone. Up next for the Red are the final two dual meets of the season against Ivy foes Brown on Friday at 7 p.m. and Harvard on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Original Author: Brian Bencomo