May 3, 2012

The Sun’s Male Athlete of The Year: Cam Simaz

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With a slew of honors and awards added to the trophy case for Cornell Wrestling this season, senior Cam Simaz’s four-year career with the Red has come to an end.

“[Cam is] one of the models for work ethic and how to wrestle hard and even live right. There is going to be a huge hole in the room and big shoes to fill for the younger guys [next year],” said former teammate, Mack Lewnes ’11.

In addition to his presence on the mat, the Michigan native won 145 out of a possible 161 matches in his career. His strong performances have led him to four EIWA Championships — a feat in and of itself, as he is just the eleventh wrestler ever to accomplish this. He also placed four times in the NCAA tournament — garnering a first place victory in 2012 — and was selected as the Ivy League Wrestler of the Year in 2011 and 2012.

“No one has ever worked harder than Cam in the 23 years that I have coached and [when he] works, he works smart as well,” said head coach Rob Koll. “This year he had a couple of injuries and I told him early on that he needed to be on himself. And when he needed to pull back, he would pull back. [This season] he was almost his own coach.”

As if his slate of accomplishments were not enough, Simaz has definitely left a legacy on the hill.

“You can’t replace Cam, you can only refill the position,” added assistant coach Damion Hahn.

Despite considering himself a “string bean” as he mentioned in a press conference, Simaz is arguably one of the best that Cornell and the wrestling community has seen in recent years. After suffering a hamstring injury at the Body Bar Invitational in November, Simaz faced a choice. He could either red shirt this year and come back for the next season or push ahead and face what the rest of the season had in store for him. He decided to go for it and see what lay ahead.

“I was really worried [about his injuries]. He was so close and so dominant,” said Koll. “There was no one even close to him. We made the decision in December to bring him back, but to bring him back slowly.”

Obviously, the national championship was worth the push. This year alone, Simaz won both the NCAA and EIWA titles in the 197 lbs. weight class with a 96.9 percent winning average for the 2012 season. In the 32 matches he wrestled in this season, only one escaped the champions’ grasp. He also holds the current all-time Cornell record for bonus points.

“You can’t replace a national champion. It’s just not the kind of thing where you can just find somebody else to win nationals,” Koll said. “Not only is Cam a national champion, but he also holds the all-time record for Cornell in bonus points and that is amazing. Every time that he stepped on the mat, we expected him to pin them. I have never had that before.”

As if his accolades on the mat were not enough to prove the enormity of Simaz’s influence on the program, his teammates, coaches and anyone that seems to know the senior, comment on his drive and most of all his love for the sport.

“He has a heart the size of an elephant,” Koll said. “The kid never gets tired and he won’t ever stop. He’s not the biggest, not the strongest, not the fastest, but he has a heart like no other kid that I have ever coached.”

Original Author: Haley Velasco