Cornell wrestling captured its 14th straight Ivy League title this past weekend, defeating Penn early on Saturday and then officially earning the title with a 23-16 victory over Princeton later that day.
Winning the Ivy League has become a yearly routine for the Red, but head coach Rob Koll and his team never take the championship for granted.
“Each year, this is our first and foremost goal,” Koll said of winning the league. “Sometimes we take the championship for granted, but with all the struggles we have faced this year it’s a nice way to finish off the dual meet portion of the season.”
Senior Nahshon Garrett, freshman Dalton Macri, senior Duke Pickett and junior Brian Realbuto all finished the weekend with two victories.
Koll praised performances Macri and freshman Joey Galasso in particular. Dalton had missed the previous three weeks and Galasso has battled illness throughout the season.
“[Marci and Galasso] went 2-0 and demonstrated to the rest of the league that they are back and ready to compete for Eastern titles,” Koll said.
Koll also noted how the team’s “senior trio of Garrett, Pickett and Realbuto continued their reign of excellence.”
Garrett, the top ranked wrestler over the weekend, will look to build off his fifth place finish at the NCAA Championships last season.
“I think the most important thing is to realize that it’s pretty much over and walking out on nationals … it’s just important to leave it all out there and and leave all the work and all the effort and everything that you’ve put in for the last eight months out there,” Garrett said.
“I think a lot of guys might be trying to define themselves by how well or not well they’ve done in the past tournaments and past matches, but the reality is that none of that stuff really matters and everyone gets a clean slate whether you’re 24-0 or under .500,” he said.
Nationals are on March 17th, so veterans like Garrett as well as as freshmen like Macri have about a month to prepare.
Macri described how he looks up to Garrett as a mentor.
“Nahshon’s probably more of mentor to me because I’m a small guy, so I can really relate and look up to him,” he said. “It’s definitely really helpful to have a guy like that on your side.”
The transition to collegiate wrestling is not always an easy one.
“The hardest thing is that everyone’s so good, so it’s just a grind,” Macri said. “Wrestling that many kids that are that good is definitely a tough task.”
The Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) championships on the weekend of March 5th will serve as the team’s national qualifier. Last year the Red qualified nine wrestlers for the NCAA meet — which tied a school record — and hopes to build off that this year at Easterns.
“The two-day break was a perfect way to kick off our training and preparation for the Eastern Championships, which also serves as our national qualifier,” Koll said.
He also noted how the team “will continue [its] regiment of highly intense, but shorter practices leading up to the Eastern and NCAA tournaments.”
Macri, new to the collegiate wrestling experience, nonetheless feels confident that Koll’s training has prepared him and the rest of the team well for the postseason.
“I think that our coaches will have us peaking at the right time, so I feel like everyone is right there and will be ready for nationals and easterns, including myself,” Macri said.