January 22, 2013

WRESTLING | Building Momentum, No. 6 Red Defeats Harvard

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After toppling Brown in a lopsided 35-6 victory on Saturday afternoon, the No. 6 Red traveled to Cambridge, Mass., where it picked up its second Ivy win of the day with a 24-15 defeat over the Crimson.

Freshman Nashon Garrett brought a high intensity to the mat in the first period against Harvard rookie Jeff Ott. The 125-pound wrestler notched a takedown in the first 10 seconds, but Ott managed to reverse him. Garrett earned an escape, but was taken down once more, allowing Ott to pick up three back points. Garrett picked up another escape and a takedown, but Ott led 8-6 into the second period.

“When we went to Harvard, there were some highs and lows,” said senior Kyle Dake. “Garrett, at 125, was a little sloppy in the first period, but showed his true ability and put a ton of points on the board to get the major.”

Making good on a nearfall, Garrett tied the score at eight and entered the third period with a renewed fire. The rookie started down, then quickly escaped and picked up a takedown. Bringing Ott to his back once more, Garrett picked up his last takedown and some riding time to clinch the 17-9 major decision.

Entering the 133-pounds matchup, Cornell held the lead, 4-0. However, the Crimson was quick to close the gap. Sophomore Bricker Dixon faced off against Harvard sophomore Ryan Osleeb, but after a scoreless first period, Dixon was the first to light up the scoreboard with an escape from the opening down position. Osleeb escaped to open the final period and took Dixon down with 38 seconds left to take a 3-1 lead. The Cornell sophomore escaped, but was unable to close, as Osleeb picked up a 3-2 decision.

The gap tightened to 4-3 in favor of Cornell, but according to Dake, Dixon’s loss is not indicative of the skill of the Red’s 133-pound division.

Moving to 141 pounds, Cornell had senior Joe Stanzione step in for junior Mike Nevinger. Stanzione faced a tough opponent with No. 10-ranked Steven Keith, who compiled an 8-0 lead with riding time in the first two periods. The Cornell senior chose to start from the top position in the final period, and he managed to pick up one point after Keith was penalized for his second stall warning. Harvard picked up the win, as Keith earned an 8-1 decision.

With Harvard edging the Red out by two points, 6-4, Cornell needed to make up ground. No. 15 Chris Villalonga squared off against a familiar face as Harvard freshman Todd Preston got in position. At 149 pounds, Villalonga dominated the match-up. He accumulated an 11-0 lead after the first period, in which he notched a takedown and three three-point nearfalls. Preston was in a tough deficit, so he chose to start the second in neutral. Finishing the match quickly, Villalonga grabbed a takedown and two additional back points.

Villalonga won a 15-0 technical fall at the 6:43 mark and moved Cornell into the lead, 9-6. Dake noted his teammate’s ferocity on the mat.

“Villalonga absolutely dominated his high school teammate,” he said.

With a three-point cushion, junior Jesse Shanaman was primed to contribute to the Red’s lead. Facing off against No. 8-ranked Walter Peppelman — brother of Cornell junior Marshall Peppelman — Shanaman had a tough break. The Harvard wrestler escaped from his chosen opening down position at the start of the second, earning a 1-0 lead, which he maintained throughout the match.

“Shanaman should have had a takedown against a returning All-American in Walter Peppelman at the end of the third,” Dake said of the referee’s call that time had run out. “[Shanaman] realizes that he needs to take matters into his own hands and not leave anything up for question. We are expecting [him] to get on the podium in March [at the NCAA tournament.]”

Tied at nine all, No. 1-ranked Dake proved once more that he only needs a short amount of time to get the job done. He won by fall for the second time of the day — beating Brown’s Jack Roberts earlier in the afternoon. Dake pinned freshman Devon Gobbo in 1:02 and put Cornell ahead, 15-9.

Marshall Peppelman suffered another tough loss for the Red, falling to Crimson junior Cameron Croy, 15-12. Croy set the tone for the match-up from the start, notching a takedown with just 11 seconds left in the first. After a scoreless second period, Peppelman escaped at the beginning of the third, but Croy managed another takedown and won in a 4-3 decision.

“Peppelman waited until the end of the match to attack the legs and it was a little too late,” Dake explained. “If he would realize how talented he is, he could surprise a lot of people in March.”

The next few weeks of competition will set the tone for the NCAA tournament, a competition of which No. 4-ranked senior Steve Bosak is no stranger. Last year, he earned a national title for the 184-pound division against Penn State’s Quintin Wright. Against Harvard, Bosak was all business, racking up a 5-0 lead over sophomore Josh Popple before eventually notching a win by fall in 2:25.

The win put Cornell ahead once more, 21-12; however, a loss at 197 pounds closed the gap in Harvard’s favor. Sophomore Jace Bennett lost by an 8-5 decision to Crimson sophomore James Fox. With just one more pairing to go in the heavyweight division, the competition was just heating up.

Senior Stryker Lane was the “ultimate win” for the Red, according to Dake. The Cornell heavyweight’s match started off with a couple of missed marks, as each wrestler was held scoreless.

“I didn’t get to my attacks like I wanted in the first period, but I was able to get a reversal and ride him out in the second to take a 2-0 lead and gain riding time,” Lane said.

Choosing to enter the third in neutral position, Harvard sophomore David Ng was looking for an opening. Lane was powering through the final period, but was injured towards the end of the round — allowing Ng to score.

“I knew I couldn’t default or it would tie the team score,” Lane said. “I just remember [head coach Rob Koll] and [assistant coach Damion Hahn] saying that if I get out in 9 seconds I would win. I just focused on what I needed to do to get out and put my knee out of my head. I knew the guy couldn’t hold me down if I went as hard as I could, so I just went for it and was able to get out.”

Lane picked up a reversal and two back points for the 6-2 decision. With the win, Cornell finished the day with a 24-15 victory over the Cambridge rival. Lane’s perseverance and dedication for his team have great significance for the program, according to Dake.

“Normally Lane would have taken the safe route and injury forfeited, but if he did it we would have lost the dual meet marking the first time we have lost the Ivy League in over 10 years.”

Looking to the future, Cornell will face off against another difficult Ivy rival this weekend, as the team hosts Penn Saturday at 2 p.m. and then Oregon State Sunday at the same time.

“We are really excited for this weekend. We have an opportunity to continue our winning streak in the Ivies and get to take on West Coast powerhouse Oregon State,” Dake said. “There are going to be a bunch of highly contested matches and we are hoping for a huge student section on Sunday afternoon.

“Oregon State will be an exciting test against a Top-10 team,” Lane added. “It will be a great weekend of wrestling.”

Original Author: Lauren Ritter