Cornell continued its success at Madison Square Garden on Sunday after men’s hockey earned a victory in the arena the night before. No. 8 Cornell wrestling was in form this weekend in the Big Apple, shutting out Hofstra, 38-0, and taking care of No. 10 Rutgers in a 28-10 victory.
Cornell (3-0) looked like a new team this week after a somewhat shaky start against Buffalo the weekend before.
“It was a completely different team this weekend,” said head coach Rob Koll. “I thought we wrestled poorly last week because it was that first time on the scale. I think it showed this weekend; we looked fantastic from top to bottom.”
The same wrestlers wrestled, but that well-known Cornell dominance was present. The Red lost a mere three matches out of 20 on Sunday, with four victories resulting from pins.
“Even the guys who lost wrestled well and hard, getting off the bottom; last week got ridden [often],” Koll added.
The Red was able to get revenge against Rutgers, whom bested Cornell in last year’s dual meet, and Cornell notched its third shutout against Hofstra since 2011.
Some of Cornell’s less experienced wrestlers excelled on the big stage. Notably, freshmen Noah Bachman (125) and Brandon Womack (165) won both their matches by a pair of decisions and falls, respectively.
“Noah … wrestled really well and beat a national qualifier from Rutgers — huge win for him,” Koll said. “Also Brandon Womack … wrestled fantastically well, pinning two kids. Those are two guys who stood out beyond everyone else.”
Koll also stressed what a privilege it was to wrestle at Madison Square Garden.
“You’ve got a lot of guys who have never been to New York City before, so it’s a new experience,” he said. ”And the Garden is an awe-inspiring venue.”
After an exciting and successful weekend in New York, the Red is back on the road again. Cornell heads west this weekend to participate in the Las Vegas Invitational in Nevada.
Thirty-five Division I schools are competing in the tournament, including top programs such as No. 4 Ohio State and No. 6 Virginia Tech.
“[The Las Vegas Invitational] is just a brutal tournament,” Koll said. “It is arguably the toughest tournament of the year besides the National Championships. If you’re winning that tournament you’re certainly picked to be an All-American, or you’re at that level at the end of the year.”
While Cornell expects positive results from its top grapplers in No. 1 Gabe Dean (184) and No. 5 Brian Realbuto (174), Las Vegas will be an opportunity to test how well the Red’s more novice players can compete on a higher level.
“This is chance for Brandon, who is 12-0, [to see] how good [he is],” Koll said. “I think he is really good and he has wrestled some regionally tough kids, but we want to see what he does at the national level.”
Through three dual meets and with no losses, Cornell is moving along steadily. But not everything is picture-perfect just yet.
“I am looking forward to getting [senior] Dylan Palacio back in the lineup,” Koll said. “That solidifies the lineup…and I think Dylan can win a national championship. But, so far I am pleased and we have not had too many injuries.”
No. 2 Palacio (157) is on track to return in the spring. Cornell wrestles Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas before heading out to No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 1 Oklahoma State a couple weekends later.