January 18, 2012

Wrestlers Aim to Improve Following Road Trip

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The Cornell wrestling team encountered tough competition in two contests and four matches over Winter Break, including two face-offs against Ivy League competitors and a showdown against EIWA rival Lehigh. Although the Red was unable to top the leaderboard in competition play, the team continued on to single match play and emerged victorious in all four contests. After finishing classes, the Cornell wrestling team traveled to Sin City once again for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 2-3. After dominating the field last year, the Red expected plenty of success from the two-day showdown against 34 other schools, but ended up falling in the ranks and placing sixth. Two-time NCAA champion junior Kyle Dake won the individual title at 157 pounds, defeating Nebraska-Kearney’s T.J. Hepburn, 4-0. Both junior Steve Bosak and senior Frank Perrelli finished second in their respective weight classes. Sophomore Mike Nevinger also placed, earning the No. 8 spot.After Christmas, the squad went on the road again and headed to Chattanooga, Tenn. to compete in the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1-2. During last year’s showing, the Red tied with Penn State for first at 151.5 points apiece, but this year the Nittany Lions were victorious, while Cornell placed fourth. Dake earned his third straight Southern Scuffle title after beating Penn State’s James Volrath, 6-0, in the semifinals.“I was happy that I won, but my performance in the finals wasn’t what I was expecting, but I got the win [anyway],” Dake said.Senior Cam Simaz placed second in the 197-pound weight class after a medical forfeit before the championship round.  At 184 pounds, Bosak secured the No. 2 spot after losing by decision to returning NCAA champion Quinton Wright of Penn State.“The Southern Scuffle was definitely a lot of fun,” Perrelli said. “That was a tournament that we entered 18 competitors rather than the starting 10, and it was a great atmosphere to have more guys on the team around and to travel with them. It made it a lot of fun.”The team returned home again and continued its season by dominating EIWA rival No. 8 Lehigh, 24-12, on Jan. 8. Cornell’s 12-point margin of victory was its largest over Lehigh since 1930, despite meeting 89 times previously and suffering a well-fought loss last season. Bosak defeated Lehigh senior Robert Hamlin, 2-1, in the first match of the day. Another notable performance came from freshman Bricker Dixon, who edged out Lehigh junior Alex Abreu, 6-1.The squad hit the road again on Jan. 14 — with a 2-0 record in hand — to begin Ivy League play against Penn and Princeton. The Red opened the weekend competition with a pair of Ancient Eight victories over the Quakers, 21-17, and Tigers, 30-9, before traveling to nearby Vestal, N.Y. to take on Binghamton on Jan. 15. Cornell finished off the Bearcats, 22-21, in a grudge match that came down to criteria for the win. With the contest all tied up after 10 matches, 21-21, and both teams holding a pin and a technical fall, Cornell was awarded the victory for scoring more points in individual matches. The Red remains undefeated (5-0, 2-0 Ivy League) heading into the second half of the season.“It was definitely a challenge with the travel schedule,” Perrelli said. “It worked out but overall it was very a humbling weekend. I don’t think we wrestled well at all … but I am glad that it happened now and we are realizing the changes we have to make. And they are going to happen and they are going to happen soon.”This weekend the Red returns to Ithaca for matches against Ancient Eight foes Harvard and Brown. According to Dake, the team’s primary focus is improving upon its Winter Break performance.“We are expecting some pretty intense competition with Harvard. They are a good team and come in and try and compete,” he said. “We are just going to have to rebound after this weekend and do a lot better than we did.”

Original Author: Haley Velasco