History will not repeat itself this year for the Cornell wrestling squad — the Red’s 92 straight streak of Ivy League dual victories came to an abrupt and devastating halt this weekend against the Princeton Tigers.
For the first time in 17 years, Cornell wrestling will not take home the Ivy League championship trophy.
“It’s a disappointment, not a tragedy,” said head coach Rob Koll. “We always expect to win the championship — it’s been 17 years since we haven’t.
“But you have to be realistic,” Koll continued. “This is not the same team that we have had for the past 17 years. We had the ability to win that match with the team we have in place, and we let it slip through our fingers.”
The historic loss came on the back of a victory against Ivy League foe University of Pennsylvania the day before. With a final score of 30-6, the team had moved one step closer to another Ivy League title.
The Red (9-6, 4-1) opened the duel on Feb. 8 against the Quakers (5-6, 4-3 Ivy League) with a close loss at 141 lbs. However, the team quickly recovered — clinching seven consecutive individual victories to amass a 27-3 lead.
Junior Hunter Richard, who recently earned the No. 25 rank in the 149 bout, put the Red on the board. Junior Adam Santoro and sophomore Jake Brindley followed suit with 7-1 and 5-1 wins, respectively. Sophomore Andrew Berryesa also bested his Quaker opponent with a 7-6 win.
Channeling the momentum of the match, freshman Jonathan Loew used a takedown to stick his opponent 5:47 into the dual. Sophomore Ben Darmstadt returned to the mat after a Jan. 11 injury against Columbia put a short damper on his season. But, it was as if he had never left the arena, pinning his opponent in a mere 24 seconds.
Sophomore Brendan Furman was the victor of the heavyweight bout, and senior Chas Tucker sealed the results of the dual with his 10-3 triumph, which consisted of five takedowns.
After vanquishing the Quakers, the Red headed to Princeton, N.J., gunning for the Ivy League championship title. However, the Tigers humbled the Red and slashed its 17 year winning streak.
“We got out there and wrestled our hardest, pushed as hard as we could,” said senior Chas Tucker. “The outcome was not what we wanted, but we did the best we could.”
The dual commenced in favor of the Red with a 9-0 major decision in the heavyweight bout. The Tigers tied up the score with a major decision of its own in the 125 weight class. With wins from Tucker and senior Noah Baughman, the Red took back the lead from Princeton. Tucker kept his flawless individual record in tac — improving to 15-0 in dual competition.
For this highly-anticipated match, the Tigers commissioned its three-time All-American Olympic redshirt Matt Kolodzik to wrestle in the collegiate match. Richard met Kolodzik with a valiant effort, but it was not enough to conquer his stand-out opponent.
Although Cornell did not lose the lead at that point, it was slowly slipping away. The Tigers picked up — and sustained — its winning momentum, while the Red dropped four consecutive bouts at 157, 165, 174 and 184 lbs.
“They did a really good job getting those toss-up matches, and then overturning some of the matches that were maybe initially tipped in our favor,” Tucker said. “They capitalized where we could have, and they pulled out those close matches. That made the difference for the whole dual and what ultimately won them the dual.”
Heading into the last match of the day, the dual’s decision was practically sealed in the Tigers’ favor.
Despite the bleak score, the Red refused to give up, with Darmstadt closing out the day with an exceptional win against No.3 Pat Brucki, almost clinching the major victory. Unfortunately, the 11-4 win in the final round proved insufficient to recapture the lost Ivy League title.
“Hats off to them — they were able to take this one,” Koll said. “They aren’t going to be able to get used to it, though, because we will be back next year, and we will get that trophy back where it belongs. The trophy is coming back to Ithaca next year.”
The Red will face Binghamton on Saturday at 1 p.m. and North Carolina on Sunday at 1 p.m.