No. 5 wrestling (11-2, 5-0 EIWA) headed into its final games of conference play with a goal in mind: Its 42nd Ivy League championship. With matchups against Princeton (3-9, 1-3 EIWA) and No. 25 Penn (6-5, 5-1 EIWA), it controlled its own destiny. After two wins, it would secure the title. With history on the line, the Red stepped up, sweeping the weekend to secure its 42nd Ivy League Championship.
The Red kicked off its dual against the Tigers with a bang, as sophomore No. 9 Julian Ramirez took down the undefeated No. 3 Quincy Monday, 10-6, at 165 pounds to start off what turned into an easy win for Cornell. A pin by senior Brendan Furman and technical falls by No. 3 junior Vito Arujau at 133 and No. 1 senior Yianni Diakhomihalis at 149 propelled the Red to a dominant 32-7 win.
This victory meant that Sunday’s dual versus Penn was for the Ivy League title, but the meet carried additional significance. As fans funneled in, lining up for commemorative bobbleheads, three time national champion Diakhomihalis prepared for his final meet in front of a home crowd at the Friedman wrestling center.
Following two Penn victories by decision and a dominant win by Arujau, Cornell trailed 6-3 and was in need of a victory. Diakhomihalis took on No. 12 Doug Zapf in a contest that started out very close before the Red pulled away, ultimately prevailing 8-3. Diakhomihalis walked off the mat for the last time at Friedman to a standing ovation from a near sellout crowd. Diakhomihalis will look to take home his fourth NCAA championship next month, which would tie Kyle Dake’s ’13 record.
The energy from the fans proved to be crucial as the Red channeled that enthusiasm to rally and secure a league title. After falling behind 9-6 heading into halftime, a tightly contested decision win by Ramirez tied the match before Cornell started to take over. An explosive pin by No. 4 sophomore Chris Foca at 174 netted the Red six points and sent the arena into a frenzy.
“Our crowd is one of the most energetic and enthusiastic crowds out there in the wrestling community,” Arujau said. “I think it’s really tough to be an away team in the Friedman.”
After a decision win by Penn, No. 14 junior Jacob Cardenas secured an important major decision at 197 that clinched the Ivy League title for Cornell. The team unfurled the Ivy banner and will look to use the momentum from its championship moving forward towards the postseason.
“Securing the Ivy League title is really important to us just to stay consistent, show all the other Ivies that we are the best,” Arujau said. “It’s nice to finish the season on an up. It’ll help us build a little momentum going into the postseason, into EIWAs and then ultimately NCAAs.”
With less than a month until the EIWA championships, the team is in the stretch run of its schedule. The Red is back in action next weekend as they take on Binghamton on Friday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at Diakomihalis’s high school gym in Hilton, N.Y.