While wrestler Kyle Dake ’13 has become a household name for Cornell sports fans, junior Gabe Dean is another player to watch — perhaps the next Dake even. Dean saw a 52-match win streak over the last three seasons, earning himself fifth place at last year’s NCAA championships and playing a vital role in helping the Red win its 13th straight Ivy title. However, Dean ended his winning streak this weekend with a loss to Oklahoma State’s Nolan Boyd.
“Gabe allowed his emotions get the best of him,” said head coach Robert Koll. “He has been sick and hurt, and I believe he worried about his preparation. This is ridiculous because you don’t get out of shape and forget how to wrestle in two weeks. I am certain he will use this as a motivation to prepare for the final stretch of the season.”
However, Dean’s loss was not the only disappointment for the Red this weekend. The men’s squad, which has seen an abundance of injury and illness this season, struggled against highly ranked Oklahoma State, dropping its record down to 4-5 while the Cowboys advanced to 10-2 on the season. While the Red saw success against the Columbia Lions on Saturday, Koll still left the weekend feeling like his team did not perform well.
“Overall, not a good outing,” he said. “We need to be much sharper next weekend if we expect to extend our Ivy League winning streak.
Despite the loss, there were some highlights to be noted from this weekend’s matches. Both Koll and junior Brian Realbuto pointed to junior Dylan Palacio’s victory over the No. 6 ranked OSU wrestler Joe Smith as one of the most exciting fights of the weekend.
“The biggest highlight from the weekend was Dylan Palacio taking out the [No. 6] ranked guy from Oklahoma State,” Realbuto said. “This was a big win for Dylan. We all knew he has been at that level for a while, but this win made it known that he is shooting for a spot on the NCAA podium this year.”
Overall, Realbuto is not discouraged by this weekend’s loss. While Koll notes that the team must be sharper going forward, Realbuto said he is confident that the team will bounce back from this weekend’s loss.
And while the wrestling team may not have met Koll’s expectations this weekend, fundraising efforts went above and beyond. Over 4,000 fans came out to support the team for the Hospicare Challenge, a fundraising event where people pledged money for every person in the stands. While the wrestlers are still collecting pledges, the team has raised somewhere between $7,000 to 8,000 for the cause.
Moving forward, the Red will focus on clinching its 14th consecutive Ivy title this weekend when it faces the last of its two Ivy foes — Princeton and Penn — this weekend. Koll said that after that, the team will have a chance to take a couple of weeks to prepare for the other championship matches.
“We’ve had a challenging season thus far but all disappointments fad with a strong finish,” he said. “We need to win out to claim our 15th consecutive Ivy League title. After that we can take a couple weeks to prepare for the Eastern and NCAA championships.”