In a dual fought to the end, wrestling trailed Lock Haven 13-10 after the first seven matches. But the Red ultimately prevailed, finishing its regular season Saturday with a win at Lock Haven 23-13.
While Lock Haven rode the excitement of its senior night, its heavier weights proved no match for the Red, with Cornell amassing 13 team points in the last three matches to put the Bald Eagles away.
At 184 lbs, freshman Jonathan Loew was able to shift the momentum of the day with a major decision win over Corey Hazel, followed by a perfectly timed technical fall win by sophomore Ben Darmstadt over Parker McClellan at 197 lbs.
By the final match at 285 lbs, sophomore Brendan Furman only needed to avoid being pinned to ensure Cornell’s victory, which he secured with a healthy major decision win over Trey Hartstock, 10-1.
Other notable matches were senior Chas Tucker beating D.J. Fehlman to remain undefeated at 28-0 and senior Milik Dawkins wrestling in his final career dual meet, beating Austin Bell 13-6.
“I guess I haven’t really taken it all in yet,” Dawkins said. “It was a good experience — last dual senior year … It felt great to get out there and just put it on one more time.”
After finishing the regular season with a win, the Red will look to build on its momentum heading into the postseason, starting with the EIWA Championships.
Head coach Rob Koll indicated that the team’s postseason preparation will not look too different from how the Red has done things all year.
“165 [lbs] will be the only thing really in flux right now,” Koll said.
The holder of the 165 lbs starting role has been thrown into uncertainty due to the return of senior Brandon Womack from injury. Sophomore Andrew Berreyesa, who has been wrestling at 174 lbs in place of Womack since winter break, will now return to 165 lbs and have to battle Dawkins and sophomore Jake Brindley for the starting spot.
Regardless of any lineup changes, the team will be rearing for a chance to prove itself in the postseason.
“It doesn’t really matter whether I think they’re ready for the postseason,” Koll said. “The whole season has been predicated on getting ready for this point in time — if they’re not [ready], shame on us.”
Even led by Koll’s proven coaching, the Red has struggled this year — notably, losing the Ivy title for the first time in 17 seasons. The team has been hampered due to periodic injuries as well as the losses of Max Dean, Vito Arujau, and Yianni Diakomihalis — all of whom are Olympic redshirts for the season.
Although missing three Olympic qualifiers may seem severe, members of the Red remain undeterred, hoping to perform up to snuff in the postseason.
“We’re feeling pretty good” Tucker said. “We’re gonna come in and scrap really hard.”
Tucker, who remained undefeated during the regular season, said his record represents nothing more than positive momentum.
“We’re starting off at 0-0 [in the postseason] — the whole team is — no one really remembers the regular season, everyone remembers the postseason,” he said. “It’s time to get after it, time to scrap and time to just be free out there.”
The Red will head to Bethlehem, Pa. for the EIWA Championships on March 6 and 7.