The wrestling team made it very clear why it is ranked third in the nation. The Red dominated opponents in both halves of a doubleheader yesterday. Cornell wrestlers won 16 of 20 total matches as they prevailed against Columbia and Hofstra.
“I really think we wrestled very well,” said junior Troy Nickerson. “It was definitely the best we’ve wrestled in the last month or so.”
The Red opened its Ivy League season at Columbia. The meet began with Nickerson at 125 pounds. Nickerson, who is ranked No. 2 in the nation, quickly took down his opponent and won by fall. The pin was a sign of things to come for the Red.[img_assist|nid=34872|title=No Meagher effort|desc=Sophomore D.J. Meagher won both of his matches yesterday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Toughness comes with the territory in wrestling. Collegiate wrestlers endure grueling workouts, excruciating practices and violent matches. Part of the strategy in matches is to put an opponent in so much pain that it limits his effectiveness. Any individual who tolerates the constant aches associated with wrestling is demonstrating serious dedication to the craft, often at the expense of one’s body. As tough as most wrestlers are, few can compare with senior Zach Hammond.
Hammond is in his fifth year as a member of the Red wrestling squad. The first four all ended with serious injuries.
Most NFL fans enjoy the Super Bowl like the last bite of an ice cream cone; a wonderful ending to an enjoyable experience. For Detroit Lions fans like me, Sunday’s Super Bowl was more like the knockout blow after getting beaten up for most of a fight. The game served as a final, painful reminder of the Lions’ season, but at least the agony was finally over. For good measure, NBC used failed Lions’ executive Matt Millen as one its studio analysts. In case any fans forgot how abysmal the Lions season was, the architect behind the disaster served as a mustachioed reminder.
Wrestlers Jordan Leen, a senior, and Corey Manson, a sophomore, will enjoy a homecoming of sorts this weekend. The Tennessee natives will lead the wrestling team into their home state where Cornell will square off against Tennessee-Chattanooga.
“I think that [the match was] scheduled so Jordan Leen and Corey Manson can wrestle in front of their home crowds,” said senior Steve Anceravage. “That’s one of the things you miss in college; people you grew up with, family, and friends being able to watch you wrestle.”
Leen appreciates the opportunity.
The wrestling team got off to a great start in its dual meet yesterday. The second-ranked Red took a 14-3 lead into halftime against the 12th-ranked Missouri Tigers. Unfortunately for Cornell, the second half did not go nearly as well. The Tigers swept the five second-half matches en route to a shocking come-from-behind victory.
Cornell fell 14-18 when none of the wrestlers in the upper weight classes were able to earn a victory. Four of the five second-half matches were close, but Missouri came out on top in each of them. [img_assist|nid=34401|title=Don’t lose your head|desc=The wrestling team squandered several opportunities in a heartbreaking 18-14 loss to 12th-ranked Missouri.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The wrestling team knows it is incredibly talented. That explains the feeling of disappointment the team conveyed after its 28-10 domination over Eastern Michigan. The second-ranked Red won seven of 10 matches en route to a comfortable victory. Nevertheless, the team believed it could have done better.
“We can’t be disappointed with the result because we won and it was a fairly decent margin of victory, but everybody feels that we came out a little flat yesterday,” said sophomore Justin Kerber. “We didn’t have a lot of energy and we were pretty disappointed with how we wrestled.”
The wrestling team used winter break to show that it is serious about competing for a National Championship this season. The Red was victorious in the 31-team Southern Scuffle in the final days of 2008. Two weeks later, the squad performed well on the national stage as runner-up at the National Duals.
At the National Duals, held in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the Red opened the event with a dominant performance over the Michigan Wolverines. Cornell won seven of ten matches to notch a 23-9 victory.
While a portion of the wrestling team will stay in Ithaca this weekend to study for finals, the members of the wrestling team who determined that studying could wait a few days will be treated with a trip to Sin City. Partying will be kept to a minimum, however, as the wrestling team will be competing in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational beginning today.
Cornell is among 49 teams that will compete in the two-day event in Nevada. Some of the top teams in the nation will be there, including six squads from the Big Ten. Four other Ivy League teams will also participate in the early season test.
After finishing ninth in the nation last season, the wrestling team is poised to continue its assault on some of the nation’s top teams. Cornell was fourth in the preseason rankings, behind a trio of Big Ten schools — Iowa, Ohio State and Iowa State. The Red returns six All-Americans, each with a realistic chance of capturing an individual National championship.
“Our team goal is to win the Ivy League title, win the [EIWA] title and win a national title,” said head coach Rob Koll.
Last season, Mack Lewnes had one of the most successful campaigns of any freshman in Cornell wrestling history. He went undefeated in the EIWA championships, advanced farther at Nationals than any other freshman and was named the National Freshman of the Year by Amateur Wrestling News. With a year of experience under his belt, Lewnes hopes to achieve even greater results this season.
Lewnes was a four-time Maryland State Champion while attending Mount Saint Joseph High School. He graduated in 2006, but did not immediately come to Cornell. “He went to Colorado Springs [Colo.] for a year to take a few courses to lighten his course load and train at the Olympic Training center,” said wrestling head coach Rob Koll.