By Rob Koll
Last year we enjoyed a great season, even with the addition of five new starters. This year, due to graduation and growth, we will have a fresh look at the 125, 174, 197 and 285 weight classes. We are fortunate to have a great incoming class as well as a room stocked full of returning talent. The following is a weight-by-weight breakdown of what you can expect to see on the mats this year.
125 POUNDS: Two wrestlers will compete for the starting spot at this weight class. Sophomore Bricker Dixon was 13-5 last year, placing at the Southern Scuffle and winning the NY State Intercollegiate and National Collegiate Open championships. Bricker was a four-time Missouri state finalist in high school. Bricker’s competition will come from freshman Nahshon Garrett, who was a two-time California state champion and a NHSCA Senior National champion as well.
These two are incredibly tough and talented young men. It will be difficult to replace All-American Frank Perrelli, but I believe either one of these two have the ability to pick up immediately where Frank left off. Whoever ultimately represents the Big Red in the postseason will be vying for All-America honors.
Others to watch: Logan Connor (Fr)
133 POUNDS: After transferring into Cornell in January, junior Nick Arujau won one match at the NCAA tournament before being eliminated. Last year he was undersized and did not compete favorably against the very best. Nick has worked incredibly hard over the summer and he looks like a completely new and improved version of himself. He has built himself into a very good-looking 133-pound wrestler and size will not be an issue this year.
Others to watch: Josh Kennedy (Jr)
141 POUNDS: There is little doubt that Mike Nevinger made the biggest improvements on the team last year. He went from second/third string to 7th in the country at NCAAs. I am pleased to say that he continues to improve and he will be even more dominant this year. Joe Stanzione enters his senior campaign after an outstanding 23-9 record last season. Nik Pena is taking the year off.
Others to watch: Joe Rendina (Fr) and Connor David
149 POUNDS: Chris Villalonga was 24-12 last season. Although this would be great for most freshmen, we expect even more from Chris this year.
Others to watch: Ryan Dunphy (Jr), Scott Bosak (Fr) Aaron Benedict (Fr) and Andrew Gonzalez (So)
157 POUNDS: Senior Kyle Dake is 100-4 with three NCAA titles. He has much to work on before he scores on me in the room, but he has not gotten frustrated. I’m proud to say he is working hard. His goal is to beat Coach Spates in a match and to score on me before he graduates. Personally I believe the last wish on his graduation bucket list is unrealistic but I gotta let the “Kid” dream.
Sophomore Evan Knight hopes to return to the mats after missing all of last season due to injuries. We hope Evan can safely return, but we expect to bring him back slowly.
Others to watch: Chris Dowdy (Fr)
165 POUNDS: Sophomore Marshall Peppelman gained invaluable experience in racking up a 28-17 first-year record. Last year he qualified for the NCAA tournament, where he won one match. This year we expect for him to compete for All-America honors.
This weight will be one of our most hotly contested. Junior Craig Eifert has amassed a 36-17 mark over the past two seasons wrestling from 149-165 pounds. More impressive is the fact that Craig’s record includes victories over numerous All-Americans. Sophomore Jesse Shanaman returns to the mats after recovering from last year’s season-ending knee surgery.
Others to watch: Cody Hutcheson (Sr) Casey O’Malley (Fr)
174 POUNDS: Sophomore Billy George has eaten and trained himself out of this weight class and will compete for the starting spot at 197. In his place we have a host of incoming freshmen as well as returning talent. Junior Michael Alexander is back after posting a 9-11 record. Sophomore Matthew Cunningham returns after suffering through an injury-plagued freshman campaign. Freshmen Duke Pickett and Owen Scott will undoubtedly make their presence known.
Others to watch: Patrick Sullivan (Jr)
184 POUNDS: Senior Steve Bosak will be expected to lead our team as he returns to defend his NCAA title. Senior Peter Mesko will provide us with a solid back-up if and when Bosak needs a break.
197 POUNDS: On paper this weight would appear to be one of our “holes”. The reality is not only will this not be a hole, but we will be more than competitive at 197. Four very capable wrestlers are lining up to replace NCAA champion Cam Simaz.
Sophomore Jace Bennett had a 16-7 record last year and will only improve now that he has a legitimate chance of breaking into the lineup. Billy George, last year’s starter at 174, is a full sized 197-pound wrestler. Billy had a roller coaster freshman campaign but still amassed an impressive 18-13 record. Senior Lukasz Stala enters his senior year after compiling a career 26-23 mark. Freshman Craig Scott, a two-time New York state champion, should also figure prominently into the fray.
285 POUNDS: This is the only weight class where Cornell has never had an All-American. I would like to blame Damion Hahn for this but since he has not been coaching at Cornell for 100 years, sadly I cannot pass the buck onto him! We are placing our hopes of breaking this streak on junior Stryker Lane, senior Oney Snyder or freshman Jacob Aiken Phillips.
Stryker placed 5th at the EIWAs two years ago and last season finished with a 19-11 record, which included 10 falls. Oney only needs one more semester to graduate so he will not be competing until the second part of the year. Jacob Aiken Phillips, from this point forward referred to as JAP, suffered an early season injury, which forced him to miss the majority of the season. JAP is a former Georgia state champion who has good speed and size. We are excited to finally get an opportunity to see him compete.
Exciting Changes Made to the Schedule
I am typically fairly conservative in how I schedule, but this year I’ve decided to mix things up a little. We finally have the depth to handle a much more grueling dual meet slate, and the schedule reflects this situation. In the past, if we lost one or two wrestlers we were sunk in a dual. As a result, I tended to push a tournament-laden schedule. The New York Coaches Association also agreed that every team would attend the New York State Intercollegiates this year, if the event was moved to the first semester. I was willing to do this on the condition that we were the permanent host site. As a result, we have dropped the Body Bar from our schedule.
Because we do not have as many tournaments to help us pick our starting lineup, we have added a Red/White wrestle off on November 9. This will help us choose the team for our opening night Binghamton dual. In addition to this change we will be competing against Oklahoma, Central Michigan and Drexel at the Journeyman Duals on November 24 and against Missouri and Oklahoma State at Madison Square Garden on December 16. We also added home contests against Oregon State on January 27 and Bucknell on February 10.
I believe this is an ambitious schedule but we have the type of team that needs to be challenged and this schedule will do just that.
2012-2013 Schedule (Home Events in Bold)
|November 9||Red vs. White||6 p.m.|
|November 16||Binghamton||6:30 p.m.|
|November 17||NY State Intercollegiate Varsity||All Day|
|November 18||NY State Intercollegiate JV||All Day|
|November 24||Journeymen Duals (Albany, NY)||9:30 vs. Drexel; 1:30 vs. Oklahoma; 3:30 vs. C. Michigan|
|November 30-Dec 1||Las Vegas Invitational (Las Vegas, NV)|
|December 16||Madison Square Garden||10 a.m. vs. Missouri; 12:30 vs. Oklahoma St.|
|January 1-2||Southern Scuffle at Chattanooga, TN||All Day|
|January 6||at Lehigh||2:00 p.m.|
|January 19||at Brown|
|January 19||at Harvard|
|January 26||Pennsylvania||2:00 p.m.|
|January 27||Oregon State||2:00 p.m.|
|February 2||at Hofstra||12:00|
|at Columbia||6:00 p.m.|
|February 10||Bucknell||2:00 p.m.|
|February 17||National Duals|
|February 24||National Duals Final Four at Minneapolis, MN|
|March 9-10||EIWA Championships at Rutgers|
|March 21-23||NCAA Championships at Des Moines, IA|
–Printed with permission