The night before the New York State intercollegiates, two Empire State squads, Cornell and Binghamton, took the mat in Ithaca with the Big Red winning eight of 10 bouts in a 33-6 final.
The home team started five freshmen and four of them came out on top. Mark Grey made his home debut with a dominant 18-3 technical fall over fellow rookie (and three-time New York state champion) Nick Tighe at 133 pounds. Both Brian Realbuto (157) and Gabe Dean (184) recorded pins in their first bouts in Bartels Hall, while Dylan Palacio captured a 10-6 decision at 165. Corey Dake, in the lineup for All-American Mike Nevinger, dropped a 4-2 match at 141.
“I think the young guys showed the style we want our team to perform on the mat,” said Cornell assistant coach Damion Hahn. “They did a great job in their first duals. I think the veterans wrestled well, but they can do some things differently with match strategy. As a whole, I think the guys wrestled well for our opener. It’s important to get those jitters out right away.”
The Bearcats jumped out to an early 3-0 lead when David White edged Bricker Dixon at 125 by a 4-3 score. The Big Red junior got on the board first with a takedown and held a 3-2 lead in the third period. However, White won a late scramble to pick up two points and the victory.
Mark Grey took control right away at 133, collecting a 9-2 lead after one with a combination of takedowns and back points, before notching the technical fall early in the third.
The next two bouts were a lot closer, however. Both were 4-2 decisions with the winning points scored late.
At 141, Cornell’s Corey Dake squared off with Dylan Caruana. The match was deadlocked at two in the final period when the Bearcat grappler took Dake down with less than 10 seconds to go for the 4-2 victory and a 6-5 Binghamton advantage in the meet.
Then, in a rematch of the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open semifinals at 149, Chris Villalonga and Joe Bonaldi were tied at two after seven minutes of action. In sudden victory, both wrestlers were close to scoring on the edge before Villalonga picked up a takedown to win 4-2 and put the Big Red ahead on the scoreboard for good.
In the last bout before intermission, Brian Realbuto made a stellar impression in his first home contest, scoring less than 15 seconds after the opening whistle and holding a 10-1 lead after the first period. In the second, he reversed Colton Perry to his back and registered the pin to make the halftime score 14-6.
Continuing the youth movement for Cornell was Dylan Palacio, who controlled the 165-pound contest with Vincent Grella. In fact, he took a 2-0 advantage just 10 seconds into the match and kept attacking throughout, leading to a 10-6 triumph.
The Big Red kept the ball rolling, winning the final four matches. Owen Scott was completely dominant at 174, nabbing a 15-2 major over John Paris, while Gabe Dean had three quick takedowns in the first before turning Caleb Wallace for the fall.
At 197, Jace Bennett took Cody Reed down with just 20 ticks left in the third for a 4-2 victory and Stryker Lane followed with a win at heavyweight. Lane led 3-0 after two. However, Deuel made a furious comeback with a trio of takedowns before Lane’s riding time gave him a 7-6 victory.
Wrestlers from the Big Red and Bearcats will be back in action on Sunday at the New York State Intercollegiates on Cornell’s campus, along with over 20 other New York squads.