Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Senior Jacob Cardenas wrestles against Missouri in Newman Arena on Jan. 28, 2024.

February 13, 2024

Wrestling Claims 43rd Ivy League Championship

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For the 43rd time in its history and the 20th time in the last 21 seasons, wrestling (10-3, 5-1 EIWA) lifted the Ivy League trophy following road victories over Princeton (5-5, 3-1 EIWA) on Saturday and then-No. 19 Penn (4-5, 3-2 EIWA) on Sunday. 

Before the Ivy League season, senior No. 7 Jacob Cardenas was clear about the team’s mindset in approaching the competition.

“We’re getting ready to smash those guys,” Cardenas said.

Throughout the start of the season, those words rang true, with Cornell winning its first three conference meets by enormous margins. Coming into the weekend with a perfect 3-0 record, the team knew that two wins would be enough for the conference title.

The Red started off the weekend on Friday night with a trip to New Jersey to face Princeton –– the lastest team to take the Ivy title over Cornell, claiming the championship in 2020. The Tigers have a strong wrestling pedigree, but were no match for the Red on Saturday.

The meet started out at 133 pounds, with senior No. 2 Vito Arujau taking the mat for the Red and setting the tone early with a 19-4 technical fall victory. Freshman Mark Botello followed and took home his first collegiate dual meet victory, winning in a 5-0 decision, before Cornell won four more matches in a row to go up 20-0. 

Following a decision loss at 174 which made the score 20-3, the meet moved on to the heavier weights, where many of the strongest wrestlers for both teams faced off. At 184, senior No. 7 Chris Foca shook off a string of rough performances with a 17-4 major decision victory, before Cardenas earned a victory of his own in a grueling 4-2 contest against No. 24 Cole Urbas. Following two more Cornell wins to finish the meet, the Red took a 35-3 team victory. 

On Saturday, Cornell faced its toughest test of the Ivy season when it traveled to face Penn. The only other ranked Ivy League team at the time, Penn has kept it close against tough teams all season, but faltered against Cornell’s superior athletes.

The meet started out with four straight matches ending in decisions, three to Cornell and one to Penn. Foca, freshman No. 6 Meyer Shapiro, and junior No. 4 Julian Ramirez wrestled tough for Cornell and earned hard-fought victories, while senior Benny Baker limited the damage against a formidable opponent in No. 6 Nick Incontrera, leaving the team score at 9-3. 

The Red would win five of the remaining six matches, one a technical fall by senior No. 17 Lewis Fernandes, and claim the meet by a score of 26-8. The 18-point margin of victory was the smallest for the Red in a conference meet this season, illustrating total domination over its other Ivy competition. The Red lifted the trophy on Penn’s mat and claimed yet another Ivy League banner for its already expansive collection.

Given its historic chokehold over the conference, it is fitting that the Red won the final conference title decided by regular season record. The Ivy League is planning to switch to a postseason tournament starting next year, rendering the regular season championship moot going forward. 

Next weekend, the Red will head down south for two high-profile matchups, facing No. 8 North Carolina State (13-2, 3-0 ACC) on Friday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. before taking on No. 24 Appalachian State (6-3, 3-1 SoCon) on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 1:30 p.m.. The meet against NC State will be televised on ACC Network.