Cornell Releases 2013-14 Schedule, Including the Las Vegas Invitational, Southern Scuffle and Grapple at the Garden

The Cornell wrestling team has finished in the top five at the NCAA tournament each of the past five years, while also winning seven consecutive EIWA championships.  The Big Red will try to keep those streaks alive in 2013-14 while facing a tough schedule that features a mix of strong tournaments and dual meets.

The Ivy League squad will begin for the second straight time with the Red vs. White Eliminations, which will take place at the Friedman Center on November 16.  That will be followed by a pair of home events later in the month – a dual versus Binghamton and the New York State Intercollegiates on November 23 and 24, respectively.

Afterwards, on December 1, the Big Red will participate in the Grapple at the Garden in New York City, squaring off with Illinois and Maryland before entering two of the nation’s toughest tournaments – the Las Vegas Invitational and the Southern Scuffle.

In mid January, Cornell will face Lehigh, starting a string of seven duals in a row against conference foes.  The team will take part in the National Duals in February and finish regular season action against Hofstra before going for a record eighth consecutive EIWA crown in Philadelphia on March 8-9.  The NCAAs will be held in Oklahoma City, beginning March 20.

To see the entire schedule on the Cornell Athletics website, click this link.


EIWA Final Results: Cornell Wins for the Seventh Straight Time; Columbia and Army Secure Four NCAA Qualifiers Each


Note: We will post a more detailed recap later in the weekend.

Cornell won its unprecedented seventh EIWA championship in a row on Saturday at the Rutgers Athletic Center, as all 10 wrestlers placed in the top seven of their weight classes.

A trio of champions led the way for the Big Red – Nahshon Garrett (125), Kyle Dake (165) and Steve Bosak (184).  For Dake, it was the third conference crown of his career.  He also earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors, as well as the Fletcher and Sheridan Awards (most points scored at the EIWAs during a career and most falls in the least time).

Besides those three titlewinners, Cornell will send Mike Nevinger (third at 141), Chris Villalonga (fourth at 149), Jace Bennett (third at 197) and Stryker Lane (fourth at heavyweight) to NCAAs.

Army took sixth in the standings with 81 points.  The Black Knights picked up four NCAA qualifiers, led by 149-pound runner up Daniel Young.  Also making the trip to Des Moines will be Connor Hanafee (seventh at 141), Paul Hancock (third at 165), and Bryce Barnes (fourth at 197).

Columbia had three finalists, including champion Steve Santos at 149.  Matt Bystol and Josh Houldsworth earned silver at 133 and 165, respectively, after wrestling above their seeds.  (Bystol came in as the eighth seed, Houldsworth as the seventh).  Those wrestlers punched their tickets to NCAAs, as did 157-pounder Jake O’Hara.

For full brackets and results, see here.

EIWA Preview: Can Cornell Make It Seven In a Row? Who Will Star For Columbia and Army?

Wrestlers and coaches always emphasize that what counts the most is performing in March.  Well, March is upon us.  This weekend, wrestlers from all six Division I schools in New York will try to earn their spots at the 2013 NCAAs in Iowa with strong showings at the EIWA, CAA and MAC Championships.  The following is a look at the EIWA event, which will be held at Rutgers University. (We will discuss the other tournaments separately).

Note: We may provide a live blog of all mats at the EIWAs, as we did last year. Please check back at LIVE BLOG link.

Returning EIWA National Champions:

Kyle Dake, Cornell (2012 Champion at 157, now at 165)

Steve Bosak, Cornell (184)

Returning EIWA All-Americans:

Mike Nevinger, Cornell (141)

Steven Keith, Harvard (All-American at 133, now at 141)

Walter Peppelman, Harvard (157)

Robert Hamlin, Lehigh (184)

Micah Burak, Penn (197)


Cornell has won six EIWA crowns in a row.  Will the Big Red make it seven?  The squad certainly has the firepower to do it, but has a few more question marks than in recent years. There are a number of teams who have the balance to make legitimate runs at the big trophy. Cornell, Rutgers and Navy all have seven wrestlers pre-seeded in the top 4 of their weights, while Lehigh has five such grapplers, all pre-seeded in the top 2.

Let’s take a quick weight-by-weight look at what we’ll see in New Jersey on Friday and Saturday:

125: (Four automatic bids to NCAAs)

Photo by BV

Nahshon Garrett, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, has had a stellar freshman campaign.  Currently ranked sixth nationally, he will be the top seed.  One of his few close victories this year was an overtime battle with former EIWA runner up Mark Rappo of Penn.  The two are favored to meet again in the finals on Saturday although some other wrestlers, such as Joey Langel of Rutgers, could throw a wrench in the works.

NY Storyline(s):  Garrett has beaten everyone he’s faced all year – except the #1, 2 and 3 grapplers nationally (Alan Waters, Matt McDonough and Nico Megaludis).  The first time Garrett and Rappo met this season, the Penn grappler wrestled much of the bout on one knee to counter Garrett’s quickness.  However, the Cornell rookie’s mat wrestling led him to victory.   We think it will again.

133: (Two automatic bids)

This weight has only two automatic qualifying spots, the fewest of any class in the conference.  The race for those slots seems wide open.  Perhaps the favorites are Vinny Dellafave of Rutgers and Randy Cruz of Lehigh, the top two pre-seeds.

NY Storyline(s): Jordan Thome wasn’t pleased with his seventh place finish at the 2012 EIWAs but wrestled well at the NCAAs, picking up a pair of victories. He is a multi-time national qualifier and will no doubt push to finish his career at the season’s biggest event.  Cornell’s Bricker Dixon had an effective weekend at the National Duals Regional in Ithaca, topping a pair of solid wrestlers in Jamie Franco of Hofstra and Shawn Nagel of Nebraska.  He also has a quality win over Lehigh’s Cruz. The pair could meet in the semifinals. 

Matt Bystol of Columbia dropped to 133 in early February and won four of five contests, according to the NWCA Scorebook, including a decision over Dixon.  The way this weight class is, any of those Empire State grapplers could make the finals and get tickets to Iowa.

141:  (Seven automatic bids)

While 133 offers just two guaranteed berths to Des Moines, 141 has seven.  And that’s an accurate reflection of the quality of this class. Leading the way are a pair of returning All-Americans, Mike Nevinger and Steven Keith.  Nevinger, the runner up at the EIWAs last year at this weight, registered two wins over Keith earlier this season.  The Harvard wrestler and Long Island native has been very impressive lately, however, including victories over a pair of contenders, CJ Cobb of Penn and Anthony Salupo of Lehigh in February.  (Cobb topped Nevinger in dual meet action).  Not to be forgotten are Trevor Melde of Rutgers, Richard Durso of Franklin and Marshall and another New Yorker – Connor Hanafee of Army.  The former CHSAA star can battle with anyone, as he did while making the medal stand at the Southern Scuffle.

NY Storyline(s):  New York should be well represented here.  We see a trio of Empire State high school stars – Nevinger (Letchworth), Keith (Shoreham Wading River) and Hanafee (Monsignor Farrell) all heading to Nationals after high podium finishes.

149: (Four automatic bids)

Last year’s EIWA finalists, Shane Welsh of Lehigh and Kevin Tao of American, are back, as are the third and fourth place finishers – Chris Villalonga of Cornell and Steve Santos of Columbia.   The return of those medalists should make for an exciting class.

NY Storyline(s): Santos and Villalonga split a pair of bouts a year ago, but didn’t meet in the dual between their teams in 2013.   If pre-seeds hold, they could square off in the semifinals.

However, another Empire State resident has the potential to take the title as well – Daniel Young of Army.  The Black Knight didn’t qualify a spot for the conference, but he has some significant victories, including over All-Americans Cam Tessari of Ohio State and Derek Valenti of Virginia. (He’s also topped Tao and Villalonga this season and earned the third pre-seed as a result).  We expect to see all three make the trip to Des Moines.

157: (Five automatic bids)

Photo by BV

Scott Winston of Rutgers has been an EIWA finalist each of the past two years.  He isn’t the top seed, however. In fact, he’s pre-seeded at number four.  That’s largely because of accomplished grapplers in this class ranked high nationally – Walter Peppelman of Harvard and Joey Napoli of Lehigh. Meanwhile, Columbia’s Jake O’Hara and Navy’s Bobby Barnhisel have also appeared in the polls during 2012-13.

NY Storyline(s): O’Hara won a pair of matches at Nationals last year and is looking to improve upon his 2012 fifth place showing at EIWAs. Cornell’s Jesse Shanaman has had an up and down season but had Peppelman on the ropes as time expired in Cambridge.  His defense and toughness on the mat give him the ability to pull some upsets and grab a qualifying spot.

165:  (Five automatic bids)

Kyle Dake is a two-time EIWA champion and a three-time NCAA champion.  This bracket is reasonably filled with solid wrestlers, but none on Dake’s level.

NY Storyline(s): Dake is, of course, the big one.  But Army’s Paul Hancock has been solid as a rock all year long for the Black Knights.  He has compiled a 28-9 record and placed at the challenging Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. We expect to see both make the trip to the Midwest in a couple of weeks. The question is whether Josh Houldsworth of Columbia (pre-seeded at #7) can join them as a possible sleeper.  The Lion wrestler has won nine of 11 bouts in 2013, with his only setbacks coming to Penn’s Casey Kent, the #3 preseed, by a 1-0 score and by fall to Dake.

174: (Four automatic bids)

Like at 133, there isn’t a clear favorite at this weight.  Mat Miller of Navy, Greg Zannetti of Rutgers, Nate Brown of Lehigh and Stephen West of Columbia have all had very strong seasons.   All are in the top 21 of the final Coaches’ Panel rankings.

NY Storyline(s): Can Stephen West get his first bid to the NCAAs?  The Columbia coaching staff was surprised he was not awarded an at-large bid to the NCAAs a year ago after a solid campaign and a fifth place EIWA showing. He has followed up with a better senior season and hopes to represent the Lions in Iowa.

Last year’s 165 pound bronze medal match at EIWAs featured an overtime win for Army’s Coleman Gracey over Cornell’s Marshall Peppelman.  Peppelman recently got the starting nod for the Big Red after a season-long battle with freshman Duke Pickett while Gracey didn’t take the mat for the Black Knights until the second half of the campaign.  Neither wrestler is pre-seeded in the top five, but both are capable of strong runs this weekend to earn return trips to the NCAA tournament.

184: (Five automatic bids)

Will we get to see another installment of Steve Bosak vs. Robert Hamlin?  The past two seasons, the two-time All-Americans have met for the EIWA crown.  Both times, the Lehigh grappler used late heroics to take the title. The two are on another collision course and this one could have major implications for not only the team race but also for seeding in Des Moines.  Presumably neither wants to be in the path of Penn State’s Ed Ruth.

NY Storyline(s): Bosak is a national champion but hasn’t collected an EIWA title.  Can he add that honor to his resume this weekend in New Jersey?

197: (Five automatic bids)

Cam Simaz stood on top of the podium at this weight for the past four years. The last three times, his titles came at the expense of Penn’s Micah Burak.  Now as a senior, the Quaker is the favorite to finally get over the hump and take first place.

NY Storyline(s): Jace Bennett is one of the more exciting upperweights to watch in the nation.  27 of his 38 matches have ended as bonus point affairs – some for and some against.  Nick Mills came tantalizingly close to qualifying for nationals two years ago at the EIWAs and has one last chance this weekend.  On the other end of the spectrum, this will be the first shot for Army freshman Bryce Barnes, who has 22 victories in his rookie campaign. A year ago, Army’s Derek Stanley rode a great conference tournament to the NCAAs at this weight.  Barnes could do the same.

285: (Four automatic bids)

Photo by BV

This is one of two classes without a top 20-ranked wrestler (along with 133).  So, who will emerge?  Both Stryker Lane of Cornell and Dan Miller of Navy have placed at EIWAs in the past. Meanwhile, Billy Smith of Rutgers and Blake Herrin of American have both been consistent and effective throughout the campaign and as a result entered as pre-seeds number one and two. 

NY Storyline(s): Colin Wittmeyer of Army has placed in the EIWA tournament in the past.  After spending the early part of the season at 184, he recently has seen action at 285 and enters in the ninth spot.

Cornell’s Lane sustained an injury during the Harvard meet, but came back on the mat to register a late reversal and near fall to clinch the dual victory for his team.  He returned several weeks later and fought through the pain to ensure the Big Red went to the second weekend of the National Duals in Minnesota.  The number three pre-seed, he should be back and ready for Cornell.

For the pre-seeds for this year’s tournament, see here.

2013 EIWA Pre-Seeds

2013 EIWA Pre-Seeds, Courtesy of Wrestling Report

1. Nahshon Garrett, Cornell
2. Mark Rappo, Penn
3. Joe Langel, Rutgers
4. David Terao, American
5. Jeffrey Ott, Harvard
6. Billy Watterson, Brown
7. Alex Abreu, Lehigh
8. Patrick Prada, Navy
9. Penn Gottfried, Columbia

1. Vinny Dellefave, Rutgers
2. Randy Cruz, Lehigh
3. Bricker Dixon, Cornell
4. Colton Rasche, Navy
5. Jordan Thome, Army
6. Paul Petrov, Bucknell
7. Jeff Canfora, Penn
8. Matt Bystol, Columbia
T9. Robert Ruiz, F&M
T9. Shay Warren, Harvard
11. Esteban Gomez-Rivera, American

1. Mike Nevinger, Cornell
2. Steven Keith, Harvard
3. C. J. Cobb, Penn
4. Trevor Melde, Rutgers
5. Richard Durso, F&M
6. Connor Hanafee, Army
7. Joe Locksmith, Navy
8. Anthony Salupo, Lehigh
9. Kevin Moylan, Princeton

1. Steve Santos, Columbia
2. Shane Welsh, Lehigh
3. Daniel Young, Army
4. Chris Villalonga, Cornell
5. Kevin Tao, American
6. Zach Bintliff, Princeton
7. Raymond Borja, Navy
8. Andrew Lenzi, Penn
9. Todd Preston, Harvard

1. Walter Peppelman, Harvard
2. Joey Napoli, Lehigh
3. Bobby Barnhisel, Navy
4. Scott Winston, Rutgers
5. Jake O’Hara, Columbia
6. Jesse Shanaman, Cornell
7. Vincent Favia, Bucknell
8. Troy Hernandez, Penn
9. John Belanger, Army
10. Philip Marano, Brown

1. Kyle Dake, Cornell
2. Corey Lear, Bucknell
3. Casey Kent, Penn
T4. Paul Hancock, Army
T4. Peyton Walsh, Navy
6. Nicholas Visicaro, Rutgers
7. Josh Houldsworth, Columbia
8. Philip Barreiro, American
9. Giuseppe Lanzi, Brown

1. Nate Brown, Lehigh
2. Mat Miller, Navy
3. Greg Zannetti, Rutgers
4. Stephen West, Columbia
5. Ian Korb, Penn
6. Cole Gracey, Army
7. Cameron Croy, Harvard
8. Marshall Peppelman, Cornell
9. Ryan Callahan, Princeton

1. Robert Hamlin, Lehigh
2. Steve Bosak, Cornell
3. Dan Rinaldi, Rutgers
4. Mason Bailey, Navy
5. Canaan Bethea, Penn
6. Ophir Bernstein, Brown
7. Scott Gibbons, Princeton
8. Ryan Tompkins, Army
9. Josh Popple, Harvard
10. Thomas Barreiro, American

1. Micah Burak, Penn
2. James Fox, Harvard
3. Oscar Huntley, Navy
4. Bryce Barnes, Army
5. Jace Bennett, Cornell
6. Sterling Hecox, Brown *
7. John Bolich, Lehigh
8. Tyler Lyster, Bucknell
9. Nick Mills, Columbia

1. Billy Smith, Rutgers
2. Blake Herrin, American
3. Stryker Lane, Cornell
4. Daniel Miller, Navy
5. Joe Stolfi, Bucknell
6. Steven Graziano, Penn
7. Max Wessell, Lehigh
8. David Ng, Harvard
9. Colin Wittmeyer, Army
10. Nicholas Gaijzik, Harvard

*Late withdrawal