Riding into this past weekend on a three game win streak, wrestling showed no signs of slowing down during two matches on Saturday at the Friedman Center. The team forged ahead in its Ivy schedule, hosting Columbia, followed by a back-to-back against Navy. In a display of dominance, the Red took both matches, defeating Columbia 31-9 and Navy 34-9. With the wins, Cornell improves to 8-2 overall on the year, with hopes of breaking into the top 10 of the national rankings.
The Red started its day with a 3 p.m. tilt with Columbia. Cornell started strong with No. 3 sophomore Vito Arujau, who had not made weight in the past few matches, putting the Red in the win column with a convincing 12-4 victory over No. 28 Joe Manchio.
“[Arujau]’s a big boost – he always wrestles well and I think he’s a leader on the team,” said Head Coach Mike Grey. “Anytime you have a leader involved it’s good for the team as a whole.”
Following a split in the 133 and 141 pound weight classes, it was once again time for Cornell’s top wrestler, No. 1 ranked junior Yianni Diakomihalis, to take the mat. Diakomihalis finished the day with two wins by fall, remaining in total control of both his matches.
The star wrestler did not reach the third period in either of his bouts and is currently riding streaks of four consecutive wins by fall, including three consecutive wins by fall against Ivy League opponents and 62 consecutive total wins – inching closer to Kyle Dake ’13’s record of 77 consecutive victories. Nevertheless, it is clear that these records serve as no distraction for the team, which is only focused on improvement and success.
“Somebody like Yianni is very successful and competes the right way, and it presents Cornell in great fashion,” Grey said. “Having the win record is not something that he really focuses on within Cornell, but it’s a great thing to be able to succeed that many times against foes in the East and all around the country.”
At 157 pounds, senior Hunter Richard followed Diakomihalis’ lead, winning both of his matches on the day. He cruised to his first win by decision, defeating the Lions’ Andrew Garr 10-4. However, his more consequential match came against Navy, where he matched up against No. 20 ranked Andrew Cerniglia. In a back-and-forth close competition, it was Richard who was able to show up down the stretch, securing two consecutive takedowns in the third period to win 5-4.
The Red took a hit at 165 pounds when No. 9 ranked freshman Julian Ramirez was forced to forfeit his match against the Lions due to injury. Ramirez sustained an initial head injury only seconds into the match but passed concussion protocol following the injury timeout. However, when his injury became exacerbated in the second period, the breakout star was forced to retire. Grey did not comment on Ramirez’s status going into next week.
Despite the loss of Ramirez, the Red was able to finish out it top four weight classes with ease, as No. 13 ranked sophomore Chris Foca (174 pounds), No. 15 ranked junior Jonathan Loew (184 pounds), No. 19 ranked sophomore Jacob Cardenas (197 pounds) and No. 17 ranked sophomore Lewis Cardenas (heavyweight) all went 2-0 on the day. The quartet capped off an impressive showing from Cornell, in which it won its two matches by a combined score of 65-18. The team has now won 35 consecutive matches against Columbia.
The most important weekend of the season is coming up for the Red as it prepares for road matches with Princeton, Penn and Drexel. The team will have an opportunity to take sole ownership of first place in the Ivy League by defeating the Tigers at 1 p.m. on Saturday and the Quakers at 1 p.m. on Sunday. It is also set to face the Dragons at 5 p.m. on Sunday in a EIWA contest. Remaining the standard of Ivy League wrestling is an important objective for the team.
“Tradition is huge for us, and we’re excited to get the opportunity to get back on top,” Grey said. “This starts a new legacy, a new tradition of excellence within Ivy League wrestling – to really show everyone that we still are the benchmark, and if you want to succeed in the Ivy League in wrestling, it runs through Cornell.”