Following an action-packed day of competition in New England, Cornell wrestling returned home with two more wins in its pocket. The Red handled Brown and Harvard by substantial margins to extend its Ivy win streak to 75 matches.
Cornell (9-2) improved its all-time record to 54-2 and 55-9 against the Bears (4-6) and Crimson (2-5), respectively. The Red continued its historical command over its Ivy opponents defeating Brown, 35-8, and topping Harvard, 33-11, without much problem.
However, it was a rather unconventional weekend with both matches taking place on Saturday. The squad took on Brown at 1:30 p.m. and then traveled to Cambridge for a second dual meet at 6 p.m. In such a physically demanding sport, such a situation can be difficult regardless of the opponent.
“It’s always tough to wrestle at Brown, hop on the bus, drive to Harvard and wrestle again, but it is easier on our guys’ schedule and it saves on the budget so it’s worth the inconvenience,” said head coach Rob Koll.
Koll believes having a fast-paced afternoon holds benefits for his wrestlers.
“I also like putting our guys under stress,” Koll said. “We want to win every time we step on the mat but it’s also all practice for the NCAA tournament.”
As usual, Cornell saw dominant performances from seniors Brian Realbuto (174) and Gabe Dean (184). Realbuto won by technical fall and a major decision, while the two-time national champion Dean picked up two more win by falls for 17 pins on the season.
“Of course Realbuto and Dean looked good but anything less than outstanding from these two is a terrible disappointment,” Koll said.
Some of the Red’s younger wrestlers such as freshman Noah Baughman (125) and sophomore Jon Furnas (149) — were able to bounce back after a recent dip in performance. Each defeated its Brown and Harvard counterparts, with Baughman notching his fifth win by fall of the season.
“I was particularly pleased with Baughman and Furnas,” Koll said. “Both guys have been struggling as of late so it’s nice to see them put a couple wins together.”
Unlike other matches, Cornell knew very well what to expect coming into Saturday, which provides some flexibility in approaching the matches. But the Red ensured it did not take its foot off the gas.
“We were confident in the outcome, so it was a good opportunity to give a couple guys a week off from competition,” Koll said. “That being said, you can’t take anyone for granted or the next thing you know we are starting our Ivy League winning streak at one.”
Despite nearing full health, Cornell still dealt with some minor injuries over the weekend after a season full of setbacks. Sophomore Joey Galasso (149) — the 2015 Ivy Rookie of the Year who had planned to return to the mat for the first time since Jan. 14 at Missouri — did not wrestle.
“In this sport it seems like one step forward and one step back,” Koll said. “Fortunately we don’t have any serious injuries and we are still on course to have everyone back by this weekend. Whether we wrestle everyone is still undecided.”
Nevertheless, the Red continues Ivy League competition next weekend with only a single dual meet at Columbia.
Cornell leads Columbia all time with an 87-13 record dating back more than a century. The Red looks to take care of the Lions and extend its ever-growing Ivy win streak.
Wrestlers will take the mat at University Gymnasium at 1 p.m. Saturday.