As one of the most impressive teams in Cornell athletics, the wrestling team has taken home 13 consecutive Ivy titles over the last 13 years. Boasting memorable wrestlers like Kyle Dake ’13 and current junior Gabe Dean over the years — as well as the unsung heroes — the wrestling squad, especially the starting 10, consistently comes onto the mat with drive and confidence. Despite recent struggles, head coach Robert Koll expects his team to take home yet another title.
“I believe one of the reasons our team has won so many Ivy League titles over the years is because we do expect to win it,” he said. “[However], we certainly don’t overlook any opponents, especially our Ivy competitors, because one loss will almost certainly cost us the title.”
This weekend, the Red (3-4) will face Ivy opponent Columbia on its way to the title before turning around and facing No. 4 Oklahoma State the next day. Historically, the team has struggled to come out on top of the Cowboys, a consistently strong team.
“Everyone struggles against Oklahoma State because they are always a Top-3 team,” Koll said. “We haven’t faced them very often but there really isn’t anything we can do differently other than we have 10 different wrestlers on the mat than the last time we faced them.”
While Koll considers this season to be successful thus far, the team has seen uncharacteristically divided results with three wins and four losses. However, Koll explains that the squad is “without doubt the toughest 3-4 team in the country,” and that most of the matches could have been won had the team been totally healthy and at full fighting capacity.
While he acknowledges that the squad may not be at full strength this weekend, Koll is optimistic that the team has moved beyond illness and injury.
This weekend, the turnaround between matches is quick and Koll said he believes that this will provide his men with an opportunity to see what major tournaments feel like in terms of recovering quickly between fights.
“I am looking forward to having back to back matches. This will provide our guys with an opportunity to make weight on two consecutive days [and it] simulates the end of the year tournaments,” he said.
While the notoriously tough OSU team requires attention, Koll is not overlooking the Lions, who have some strong talent on their roster as well. However, he said he does believe that as a dual meet team, the Red should be able to count on its upperclassmen to power through their matches and help the squad earn a victory. That being said, Koll also acknowledges that OSU poses a different threat then the Lions.
“Oklahoma State is a different animal entirely,” Koll said. “It is a great opportunity to face teams such as OSU this late in the year. It prepares our team for the type of intensity they will face at the NCAA tournament. We have the cast of characters to knock OSU off, but we need to bring our A-game.”
While the wrestling talent is likely to shine at such a high-level match, there is yet another reason to support the Red squad this weekend against Oklahoma. Sunday is the Red’s annual Hospicare Challenge, an event that the Cornell squad has hosted since 2002.
For every fan in attendance, money will be donated to Hospicare, which works to bring emotional and physical support to people in hospice through various programs. The event is free for all students. For more information, click here.