With convincing home wins over Brown and Harvard this weekend, the Cornell wrestling team has now gone 80 straight contests since its last loss to an Ivy League opponent.
The win also takes the Red one step closer to its 16th consecutive Ivy League title.
Cornell (7-2, 2-0 Ivy) defeated the Bears (2-5, 0-1) and Crimson (3-2, 0-1) by hefty margins of 27-9 and 35-3, respectively. With the Red winning at least its first four matches in both duals, the home team’s success was never in much doubt.
Despite only losing a total of four matches, head coach Rob Koll believes his team still could have posted a better performance.
“I don’t mean to not be thankful for the wins, but we always expect to be better,” Koll said. “There were some close matches that were disappointing.”
Several losses against Brown could be accounted for with sophomores Fredy Stroker (157) and Adam Santoro (165) moving down and up weight classes, respectively. However, it was junior Ben Honis’ one-point loss at heavyweight which disappointed Koll. .
“Heavyweight was disappointing, losing it at the very end,” he said. “And I felt that we were vastly superior and we shouldn’t have lost that one.”
Nevertheless, all 10 of Cornell’s wrestlers managed to pick up at least one win on the day, with freshmen No. 4 Yianni Diakomihalis (141) and No. 6 Ben Darmstadt (197) each getting two bonus point victories. Diakomihalis, Darmstadt and freshman No. 11 Max Dean have all eclipsed 20 wins in their freshman campaigns.
These young grapplers are also continuing to impress and show that they are more than able to carry on the program’s tradition of success, even in an environment with a high expectation of success.
“Coach Koll is a real strong believer that there is no such thing as a rebuilding year and we are those tools to say no to the rebuilding,” Darmstadt said. “[However] I don’t think there is any pressure. We work so hard in the room that we just come in and do what we know we can do.”
“Pressure is something you put on yourself,” Diakomihalis added. “If you don’t feel that pressure, there’s no pressure, so it’s just in your head. And we are confident in coaches. If they believe in us, we believe in ourselves.”
The key trio of freshmen have demonstrated an undaunting attitude thus far in the season, with Dean, Diakomihalis and Darmstadt at 11, 17 and 19 bonus point wins respectively. Darmstadt in particular is a bonus point machine, with 86 percent of his matches resulting in bonus point victories — an unprecedented rate, according to Koll.
“[Darmstadt] just gives you a spark,” he said. “When you know you have an anchor like that at 197, you’re going to get not just a win but a bonus point.”
As long as Darmstadt and his fellow freshman continue to contribute in a meaningful way, onlookers can only expect the remainder of this 2017-18 wrestling season to be nothing less than exciting.
Cornell continues league play with a home dual meet against Columbia at 1 p.m. Saturday, before hitting the road on Sunday to square off against No. 23 Lock Haven at 1 p.m.