Julia Nagel/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Wrestling topped Princeton and Penn on the road to claim the Ivy League title.

February 9, 2022

Wrestling Clinches Ivy League Title With Wins Against Princeton and Penn

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In its most pivotal weekend of the season, wrestling did not disappoint. Sitting at 3-0 in Ivy League play, the team had two major matchups, first on Saturday against No. 20 Princeton (5-3, 3-1 Ivy), and next on Sunday against Penn (5-2, 5-1). Prior to the weekend, none of the three teams had lost a single game of Ivy competition, ensuring a winner-take-all scenario for the Red. 

Showing up when they most needed to, Cornell executed a sweep en route to a 5-0 conference record, and more importantly, the coveted Ivy League championship.

The Red had to go on the road to claim its latest title, traveling first to New Jersey on Saturday to take on the Tigers. This matchup had been anticipated for two years, since Cornell lost to Princeton on the road in 2019 – a match that clinched the Ivy League for Princeton. The Red had not lost the Ivy League in its previous 17 seasons; this weekend, it looked to avenge the loss and start a new streak of success. 

It was clear off the rip that this would not be an easy win for the Red, as No. 8 ranked freshman Julian Ramirez was upset at 165 pounds by Jake Marsh. The tide shifted to Cornell following the first bout, as the team tore off four consecutive victories. No. 12 ranked sophomore Chris Foca (174), No. 15 ranked junior Jonathan Loew (184), No. 19 ranked sophomore Jacob Cardenas (197) and No. 17 ranked sophomore Lewis Fernades (HWT) all won by decision, creating a commanding lead.

In the feature match of the day, No. 3 ranked sophomore Vito Arujau took on No. 2 ranked Patrick Glory at 125 pounds. In a tight back-and-forth contest, it was Glory taking the bout 11-9 with a third period takedown. The last four matches were split 2-2, with the most notable being No. 1 ranked junior Yianni Diakomihalis, who continued his longtime streak of dominance with a 16-0 tech fall win only two minutes into his competition. 

His victory, along with those at the top four weight classes, was enough for Cornell to defeat the Tigers, 21-12, avenging its loss from two years ago and setting up a title fight against Penn. Head Coach Mike Grey ’11, who was an assistant in the 2019 season, stated the importance of defeating the Red’s biggest rival.

“I preferred it – it was great to beat them in their own gym and get our trophy back,” Grey said. “It’s been with us for 17 years prior, and it’s great to have it back at Cornell.“

As important as the win over Princeton was, it would be for nothing if the Red could not follow it with a win against Penn. With both teams entering the contest undefeated in the Ivy League, only one could exit with sole possession of a championship. Once again, Cornell was down early, dropping the opening 165 pound bout. 

The Red would not remain on the short end for long, however, as it ripped off five consecutive victories. The top four weight classes remained consistent, and Arujau bounced back from his Saturday loss with a 10-2 win over No. 26 ranked Ryan Miller. With the Ivy League title in sight, the Red held a commanding 16-5 lead.

The Quakers would not go down without a fight, as it responded with back-to-back wins at 133 and 141 pounds. Nevertheless, nothing could stand in the way of Diakomihalis, who cruised to a 10-2 major decision win. Despite dropping the final weight class, the team had already built up enough of a lead to win, 20-12. For the first time in two years, wrestling was able to celebrate the return of the Ivy League title to Ithaca. As a first year head coach, this achievement spoke volumes of Grey’s impact on the team.

“It’s important; we have a tradition of excellence with Cornell wrestling and especially in the Ivy League,” Grey said. “Winning and being Ivy League champions is tradition here at Cornell wrestling, and I wanted to continue that.”

The Red capped off a perfect weekend with a convincing 32-12 win over EIWA rival Drexel (5-7). Cornell improved to 11-2 overall on the season, and remains at No. 11 in the NCAA rankings – the highest ranked team from the EIWA. As it prepares for postseason wrestling, the team will have its final home game of the year against nearby rival Binghamton at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Friedman Center. Grey confirmed that the team’s seniors will be recognized in their last home match at Cornell.

“This is our senior day, so we’re gonna try to get some other guys out there if we can,” Grey said. “If we can get seniors in there and let them have their last moment in the Cornell singlet, we’re definitely gonna do that.”