Rob Koll Previews the 2013-14 Season for the Cornell Big Red

BY ROB KOLL

[For a PDF version of Rob Koll’s newsletter, see Cornell newsletter Fall].

We pride ourselves on consistency within the program.  If we recruit hard, and work harder, then there is no reason to ever suffer through a “rebuilding” year.  This year that philosophy will be put to the test.  It’s been seven years since we started a season without the services of one or more national champions.  In addition, in the last two years we have lost four national champions to graduation.  Despite these facts there is reason for optimism in the Cornell camp!

The 2013-2014 team ushers in a new era.  No more Dake, Bosak and Simaz to the rescue.  We need to find, and develop, the next Cornell wrestling legends.  The good news is that within our wrestling room nebula I am confident we have the material and conditions to incubate future wrestling stars!

Although I cry youth, the truth is we are in the enviable position of possessing two not-so-secret weapons in Nahshon Garrett (125 pounds, third at last year’s NCAAs) and Mike Nevinger (141 pounds, seventh and fifth at the last two NCAAs). In addition to these two we have past NCAA qualifiers in Chris Villalonga (149), Marshall Peppelman (165), Jace Bennett (197) and Stryker Lane (285).  These returning starters give us a good base, but we have a few openings that will need to be filled.

 

Garrett, Photo by BV

125: Nahshon Garrett returns for his sophomore year with the intent, and ability, to claim the first of multiple NCAA championship titles.  Nahshon is vastly improved, and he wasn’t too shabby last year!  Bricker Dixon will move down to challenge Nahshon.  These two provide us with amazing depth.  Ryan Radwanski, a freshman from Bridgewater, NJ will also challenge for a spot.

 

133: Freshman Mark Grey, the self-proclaimed better looking and more intelligent Grey brother, will make an immediate impact at this weight.  Sophomore Logan David and senior Josh Kennedy will also complete for the role.  Last year, David had six wins wrestling at 125 and 133, while Kennedy went 4-6. Former NCAA qualifier Nick Arujau will either compete at 133 or 141.

 

141: Mike Nevinger comes back for his senior year with the goal of making it to the top of the podium.  Mike always works hard, but this summer, he was particularly focused and intense. Mike has enjoyed a spectacular Cornell career, ranking 20th on the all-time wins list with 99 victories. Challenging Mike for the spot will be sophomore Joe Rendina (9-5 last year), Nik Peña,  (11-11 two years ago), as well as a host of outstanding freshmen including Corey Dake (Lansing, NY), Eli Bienstock, (Gaithersburg, MD) and three-time California state champion, Alex Cisneros.

 

149: Junior Chris Villalonga has amassed 58 victories and two trips to the NCAA tournament during his career. Despite this impressive resume, we expect significantly more out of him this year.  Chris has grown into a full sized 149-pound wrestler and will no longer be overpowered by anyone.  If Chris gets banged up, we can fall back on the services of seniors Ryan Dunphy and Conner David.

 

157: Two outstanding freshmen, Brian Realbuto and Taylor Simaz, will take over this weight class.  Realbuto is a three-time New York state champion and Fargo National Champion who placed third at the FILA Junior World Team Trials over the summer.  Simaz, whose brother Cam won a national title for the Big Red in 2012, was a two-time Michigan state champion.

 

165: Marshall Peppelman, Craig Eifert and Dylan Palacio make this our most hotly contested weight.  Any one of the three could make the team and I expect the person who ultimately prevails will compete for All-American honors in March.  Also battling for the spot is freshman Jake George.  Jake is Billy’s younger, and naturally better looking and smarter, brother.

 

174: This is another weight class with a great deal of talent.  Sophomores Duke Pickett and Owen Scott will battle it out with junior Jesse Shanaman.  Pickett started for half of last year and racked up an 18-15 record.  Jesse has bumped up two weight classes.  Last year he struggled with injuries but still managed to grind out 12 victories against 10 defeats.  Owen Scott missed all of last year due to injury.

 

184: Billy George wrestled 197 last year and 174 as a freshman, so it only seemed appropriate to move to 184 this year.  Last season, Billy finished with a 19-11 record.  Billy will be challenged by freshman Gabe Dean, who was first and second at the Michigan state championships and senior Mike Alexander.

 

197: A beefed up Jace Bennett returned to campus ready to improve on last year’s impressive 31 victories. Pushing Jace will be Steve Congenie, a two-time Illinois state champion, and 2013 New York state titlewinner, Daniel Choi.

 

285: Stryker Lane, who has a 68-38 career record, returns for his senior year hoping to finally get on the podium in Oklahoma City.  Pushing Stryker will be sophomore Jacob Aiken-Phillips (15-8 last year), George Famutimi and former 184 pounder (now 235 pounds and growing), Craig Scott.

Here are a few other notes about the upcoming season:

Nahshon Garrett at the All-Star Classic:

Before our season officially kicks off, you can see Nahshon Garrett in action at the All-Star Classic, where he will face All-American Jarrod Patterson of Oklahoma at 125 pounds.   The event, which features a number of the nation’s top wrestlers, will take place on November 2 at 7:15 p.m. on the campus of George Mason University.

To purchase tickets, visit the Ticketmaster website.  For more information on the All-Star Classic, visit the NWCA website.

2013-2014 Schedule:

We have put together another challenging schedule this year.  You can take a look at the following link: http://cornellbigred.com/schedule.aspx?path=wrest& or here.

 

Team USA vs. Team Russia in Ithaca!

On November 17, join us in Bartels Hall for a 1 p.m. dual between the Russian national team and a USA squad featuring former Big Red stars Kyle Dake, Cam Simaz and Frank Perrelli as well as Kellen Russell, Clayton Foster, Jimmy Kennedy and Tervel Dlagnev /Zach Rey.   As part of the ticket price, national team coach Zeke Jones will host a freestyle clinic from 10-12.  I hope you will be able to support our team!

 

New Book!

Former Cornell wrestler Jamie Moffatt recently released his latest work on the fight to save Olympic wrestling.  Please check it out at: https://www.facebook.com/SavingWrestlingBook

 

By Lindsey Mechalik

 

 

Catching Up on Cornell: Damion Hahn Talks About the Incoming Freshmen, Returning All-Americans and More

New York Wrestling News caught up with Cornell assistant coach Damion Hahn for a few minutes to chat about the Big Red.  Read on to see what he had to say about the team’s returning All-Americans, the incoming freshmen, Kyle Dake and more.

New York Wrestling News (NYWN): How has the summer been?

Photo by BV

Damion Hahn (DH): There’s been a lot going on at Cornell. We have some change going on, which is a little sad when you’re talking about someone like Jeremy [Spates] leaving, but also really exciting.  We’re really happy about the guys we had training this summer with our Regional Training Center program.  Having one of them – Mark Grey – make the FILA Junior World Team – that was great news to have him representing our country.  [Grey took fifth place for the second time at the World Championships]. Mark’s been working really hard and we’re looking forward to having him on the mat for the Big Red.

NYWN: Speaking of the Grey family, tell us about the coaching changes at Cornell with Jeremy Spates leaving to become the head coach at Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Mike Grey being promoted to full-time assistant?

DH: We’re excited to have Mike moving up.  He’s done a great job for the past few years as the volunteer assistant and we’re happy to have him on the staff.

As far as Jeremy goes, it was tough to see him leave because he was a friend and also a roommate for a year – he lived with me and my wife for a while. It will be hard to replace the wealth of knowledge and experience he brought to the table, and some of the technique he brought, especially the top work, which was phenomenal. But I’m super excited for him to get this opportunity as the head coach at SIUE.

NYWN: You talked briefly about Mark Grey.  He won the Edinboro Open, National Collegiate Open and Mat Town Open last year, while Brian Realbuto, Alex Cisneros, Gabe Dean and Dylan Palacio also had success at various tournaments. Which of the freshmen do you expect to have a big impact this year?

DH: It’s hard right now for me to pinpoint who will have a breakout or standout year because I think we have a lot of guys that could do very well.  First of all, they’re great kids who have their priorities in order.  They came to Cornell not only to get a phenomenal education but also to win a national title – individually and also as a team.  When you have great guys working hard together for a common goal, great things happen. It will be interesting to see who will break into the lineup.

I’ll try to address the guys you mentioned – Alex Cisneros is probably ideally a 141 pounder right now but could go 149. Brian Realbuto looks great at 157.  Dylan Palacio is very tough and is part of a four-man race for 165 with Marshall Peppelman, Craig Eifert and Jesse Shanaman. I’m sure we could see one or more of those guys move up when things start shaking out.  Gabe Dean did well last year and keeps improving.  He just goes and goes and goes.  He’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

NYWN: You mentioned some 165 competitors possibly moving up to challenge at 174.  Who would they be competing with there?

DH: Duke Pickett is back and looking tough. He’s battling with Owen Scott. Owen missed last year after surgery but is very strong technically and has looked good.

NYWN: Like Owen Scott, another freshman we haven’t talked about yet, Steve Congenie, missed last year with injuries.  What weight will he look to wrestle this year?

DH: Congenie is a 197 pounder. He was a little bit of an under-the-radar recruit because he was hurt his senior year of high school.  People might have forgotten about him, but he’s impressive.

NYWN: You talked about Owen Scott. At what weight do you expect his twin brother Craig?

DH: Craig’s probably a little over 225 pounds right now and will be a heavyweight.  He’s been making some big gains.

NYWN: With a lot of younger guys potentially in the mix, what are your expectations for the team?

DH: I think when you lose five national championships like we did with Kyle [Dake] and Steve [Bosak], you can’t just replace that.  But I think with the guys we have returning and the guys we’re bringing in, we’ll have an exciting team.  Last year we had a bunch of studs and this year, I think we’ll maybe have a more of a balanced team.  We’ll have some fresh faces in the lineup, mixed with some familiar ones.  There will be some battles and I feel that the guy who winds up representing every weight will be tough.

NYWN: Last year at this time you were excited about the freshman season of Nahshon Garrett.  That obviously went well with an EIWA title and a third place finish at NCAAs.  What are you looking for from his sophomore year?

DH: A national title is first and foremost for him. Last year, he had a great season.  A lot of people said he had a great national tournament and didn’t realize that he was good for the entire season – he beat a bunch of top guys. Some people saw him as a dark horse in some sense. We knew he was special as soon as he came in. I told him last year, ‘We have Kyle Dake right now and he kind of overshadows a lot of other things, but you will be the face of Cornell wrestling later. You’re the sparkplug. You’re the first person people see step on the mat representing Cornell and you have to get this team going.’  He did a phenomenal job last year and I think he can win a national title this year. He’s that talented and he works incredibly hard.

NYWN: Your other returning All-American, Mike Nevinger, is a senior who has made the podium twice at 141.  What do you expect from his senior year?

DH: Mike’s our workhorse. We have him projected at 141 again. You can never count him out. He loves the tough road – look at what he’s done at nationals.  He’s a leader and he leads by example – people look to him for direction. The great thing about him is that it doesn’t matter what tournament, what match, what period it is. He’ll fight 100% and you know you’ll get everything he has every time he’s on the mat.

NYWN: A lot of the focus last year was on Kyle Dake.  Will he be in Ithaca next year?

DH: Yes. He’ll be living in Ithaca and it will be great to have him here. He’s been amazing since day 1.  I’ve told people all along, don’t ever count the kid out. He’s a fighter and he’s an athlete. Some of the things he does – people sit back and say how did he do that?  He’s impressive in so many ways. I’ve never met anyone with the same mental toughness. It’s insane. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing; he feels he should and will win. Just having that mental edge is phenomenal. Everything he has done in his career so far is nothing short of amazing.

NYWN: What was his reaction to the World Team Trials finals against Jordan Burroughs? [Burroughs won in two matches].

In the first match he didn’t fare so well, obviously. He was beaten up pretty good.  But that’s the great thing about Kyle. He can make an adjustment, just like that. He went out in the next match and took him to overtime. It was a totally different match. He has mat awareness, body control – you name it. He’s the complete package. He knows that he has a World and Olympic champion in his weight class that he has to beat to reach his goals. He expects to be able to do it.  It will be fun to see how it’ll play out. I don’t ever count Kyle out.

NYWN: Anything else?

DH: We’re looking forward to all the young talent we have coming in from last year’s class and seeing how all the other guys progress.  We may be a little more under the radar going into the season, but I think it’s going to be an exciting year for the Big Red.

Dake, Nevinger, Santos, Bonanno, Vinson Among New York Representatives on the NWCA All-Academic Team

 
 
The National Wresting Coaches Association (NWCA) released the 82-member Division I All-Academic team for the 2012-13 campaign, including several New York wrestlers.

Four-time national champion Kyle Dake was one of four NCAA titlewinners on the squad (along with Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple, Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry and Penn State’s Quentin Wright). Joining Dake was fellow Big Red All-American Mike Nevinger.

Santos, Photo by BV

Another wrestler who stood on the podium in Des Moines, Columbia bronze medalist Steve Santos, made the squad, along with his teammates Jake O’Hara and Josh Houldsworth. The Lions were 28th in the team GPA standings (3.0212).

Also chosen for the team were a pair of 2012 All-Americans and current graduate students – Binghamton’s Donnie Vinson and Hofstra’s Steve Bonanno. The Pride 125 pounder, working toward his MBA, was ranked third on the individual academic list with a 3.77 grade point average.

Rounding out the Empire State representatives are Billy Watterson, a former Section 1 standout now at Brown and Section 3 star Ryan LeBlanc, who wrestles at Indiana.

For the full release, see here.

NWCA All-Academic Team – (Wrestlers with Connection to New York)

Donnie Vinson (Binghamton, 149 pounds) – Masters (Student Affairs)

Billy Watterson (Brown, John Jay HS, 125 pounds) – History

Jake O’Hara (Columbia, 157 pounds) – Financial Economics

Josh Houldsworth (Columbia, 165 pounds) – Financial Economics

Steve Santos (Columbia, 149 pounds) – Financial Economics

Mike Nevinger (Cornell, 141 pounds) – Mechanical Engineering

Kyle Dake (Cornell, 165 pounds) – Development Sociology

Steve Bonanno (Hofstra, 125 pounds) – Accounting (MBA)

Ryan LeBlanc (Indiana, Morrisville Eaton HS, 165 pounds) – Fitness Specialist

Check Out Video Interviews With All Five All-Americans From NY Schools And More from the NCAAs

 
 
Check out video interviews with NY wrestlers at the NCAA tournament, including all five All-Americans from New York teams (Kyle Dake, Steve Bosak, Nahshon Garrett, Steve Santos and Mike Nevinger) and more.

 

Kyle Dake After Making History

 

Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett “Content But Not Satisfied” With Third Place at the NCAAs

 

Damion Hahn on Cornell’s Medal Round Performance at NCAAs

 

Steve Santos Takes Third at 149 For the Highest Columbia Finish Ever

 

Cornell’s Mike Nevinger Takes Fifth Place at NCAAs After a 9-2 Victory

 

Steve Bosak Finishes Off Three-Time All-American Career With Third at 184

 

Mike Nevinger – All-American Again After Five Straight Consolation Wins

 

Hofstra’s Jamie Franco – Two Straight in Overtime at the NCAAs

 

Hofstra’s Steve Bonanno After Upsetting #10 Seed in the First Round (Day 1)

 

Harvard 2012 All-American Steven Keith (Shoreham Wading River) After a First Round Pin (Day 1)

 

Photo by BV

 

 

Winning Words: Garrett, Bosak, Santos and Nevinger on Being All-Americans

 
 
All four of the New York wrestlers taking part in the medal rounds on Saturday morning finished their seasons on a winning note, with third place showings for Nahshon Garrett at 125, Steve Santos of Columbia at 149 and Steve Bosak at 184.  Mike Nevinger grabbed fifth at 141 as the Big Red had at least four All-Americans (along with finalist Kyle Dake) for the ninth consecutive campaign.  Here’s a little more on the performances of each of those wrestlers this weekend.

Nahshon Garrett, 3rd at 125

The freshman from California finished off a tremendous first season for the Big Red with a third place finish at the NCAA tournament, beating two higher seeds on Saturday to get there.

Garrett in 3rd Place Match, Photo by BV

In his first match of the day he surrendered a pair of takedowns in the first and trailed 4-2 after that stanza against the fifth-seed, Jarrod Garnett.  Heading into the third, the Virginia Tech grappler led 9-6, but the Big Red freshman took control from there, immediately getting the escape and a takedown to knot the match at 9.  From there, he was dominant in the top position, riding his opponent out and racking up three near fall points along the way for the final 13-9 margin.

He then squared off with the tournament’s top seed, Alan Waters of Missouri.  The pair met twice earlier this season, with the Tiger wrestler coming out on top on both occasions.  But Garrett said he felt confident this time.

“Honestly, I knew his game plan and I knew what he was going to do,” Garrett said. “He was sitting on a knee like I knew he would. He wrestled tough, but I knew what I had to do. I figured I would ride him out. I’d been doing so well this tournament riding people out, I felt I could do that if I didn’t score points at all before that. He’s obviously really good on top. The last couple of times we wrestled, I didn’t really know how to get out. But no one was able to ride me this weekend.”

The match went as Garrett expected. After a scoreless initial period, Waters selected the down position and Garrett took control.  The California native not only rode Waters out, but also registered a pair of near fall points near the end of the second to take a 2-0 lead.

In the third, Garrett quickly escaped and tacked on a late takedown.  With riding time added, the Cornell wrestler triumphed 6-1.

The victory cemented Garrett in the Cornell record books for another reason – he’s now the Big Red single season leader in wins with 43. Who were the former holders of that mark with 42? Cam Simaz and Garrett’s current coach Mike Grey.

When Garrett was told about that achievement, he smiled.

“We were just talking about me one upping him because he took sixth his freshman year,” Garrett said of Grey. “Now that I have that record over him, it’s pretty sweet.”

So is the bronze, although Garrett admitted he has plenty left to achieve.

“[Third place] isn’t what I came here for,” he said. “I’m very content with it right now, but I’m not satisfied. I’m not going to be satisfied until I get that title.”

Mike Nevinger, Fifth at 141

Mike Nevinger said his goal coming into the tournament was to be a national champion after taking seventh a year ago.  After losing in the first round on Thursday to Virginia Tech’s Zach Niebert in overtime, which he called “heartbreaking”, he said he knew he had to put it all together to get back on the podium, both for himself and for his team.

Nevinger Takes 5th, Photo by BV

He did just that, earning fifth on Saturday with a victory over North Carolina’s Evan Henderson.

“I think it’s just toughness,” he said. “Obviously, you’re just crushed after that first loss. But you just have to regroup and know that you’re a good enough wrestler to go out there and be an All-American. You just have to go out there and wrestle. Don’t make excuses for yourself, just come back strong and go from there.  I just needed to go out and wrestle smart and wrestle my match. If I keep it tight and wrestle tough on top, I’m going to come out on top.”

In his first bout on Saturday, Nevinger was defeated by the top seed, Hunter Stieber of Ohio State.  However, in the fifth place bout, he began strong with a takedown and three back points to take a 5-0 advantage into the second.  The former Letchworth star extended his lead in the second with another takedown and after an exchange of escapes in the third, Nevinger walked away with a 9-2 win and a fifth place medal.

Nevinger went from seventh as a sophomore to fifth as a junior.  He’s looking for more in his final season as he said his goal is to be a national champion.

“All areas could use improvement,” he said.  “I definitely have to get more attacks going on my feet and work on my baseline ‘D’ like always. I know I have a lot of things to work on this summer so I can come back stronger next year.”

Steve Santos, Third at 149

Steve Santos became the highest finisher in Columbia wrestling history on Saturday when he took third at 149 pounds.

“It was a great accomplishment as an individual and for our program. It just feels awesome,” Santos said. “Columbia has a long history of wrestling and a great core following. To represent Columbia like that is a great feeling.”

Santos After Taking Third, Photo by BV

In his first contest of the morning, his opponent, Scott Sakaguchi of Oregon State struck first with a takedown, but Santos managed an escape to trail 2-1 after the opening stanza. Santos imposed his will in the second period, riding the Beaver wrestler for the entire two minutes.  In the final period, Santos took down and got right to his feet, reversing his opponent and riding him out for a 4-2 victory (with riding time) and a spot in the bronze match.

In that third place tilt, Santos once again took control, this time against last year’s NCAA runner up Dylan Ness of Minnesota.  He entered the second with a 4-2 lead and over 1:40 riding time.  In the third, Santos immediately took Ness down to increase his advantage to 6-2.  The Gopher escaped late, but the Brick, New Jersey native completed his Columbia career with a third place medal.

“I knew he likes to roll around like that, but I’m just as good in there,” Santos said of the unconventional Ness.  “I kept solid; I knew I didn’t want to let him wrestle his match. I kept my position and when he showed any vulnerabilities, I just attacked right away.”

Steve Bosak, Third at 184

It might not have been the perfect ending that Steve Bosak said he was looking for, but he finished his career on a high note by taking third place on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett.

Bosak, Photo by BV

After a scoreless first period, the four-time All-American from the MAC chose down against Bosak.  However, he never came close to escaping and was warned for stalling twice, resulting in a point for the Big Red.  There was no further scoring in the third after Bosak took neutral and the Cornell 184-pounder collected a 2-0 victory with riding time to add a bronze medal to his 2012 national championship and 2011 fourth place showing.

“I was proud of how I wrestled and finished out. I feel good,” Bosak said right after the match, adding that his ultimate goal was to repeat as an NCAA champion.

“When the seedings came out, I felt disrespected,” he said of getting the #4 spot in the bracket. “I was unsure why the seeding committee did that, but when it came down to it, I knew I had to wrestle everyone anyway to win it.”

In his first bout of the morning, Bosak came out on the offensive, getting in deep on a shot early that was defended by his opponent, Jimmy Sheptock of Maryland.  However, the Big Red senior did put points on the board in the opening stanza with a takedown and then remained on top for the remaining 50 seconds of the first.  A Bosak escape in the third was the only other scoring in the bout as the Big Red senior finished off a 3-0 decision.

Cornell assistant coach Damion Hahn said Bosak will be extremely hard to replace for his squad.

“It’s emotional because we’ve been together for a long time,” he said of the 184-pounder. “He’s one of the Cornell greats. He did a phenomenal job this weekend. I know a national title is what he wanted. He fell a little short, but I don’t think anybody could be more pleased with his performance. He is a competitor, he has heart, he has every intangible thing you could want in a wrestler.  He will be greatly missed, no doubt about it.”

NCAA Session 4: Dake Earns Spot in the Finals (Again); Nevinger Joins List of New York All-Americans

 
 
Four times at the NCAAs and four times in the finals for Kyle Dake.  The 165-pounder will take on David Taylor of Penn State in the finals Saturday night after blanking Oklahoma State’s Tyler Caldwell 2-0 in the semis.  After a scoreless opening period, Dake chose down and escaped in less than 10 seconds.  Entering the third, he held a 1-0 lead and added a point for riding time after staying in the top position the entire final stanza.

Dake, Photo by BV

Dake said “it feels good to be back” in the finals.  And he’s ready for the challenge that Taylor will present.

“[Taylor’s] basically imposing his will and everyone is scared to wrestle him,” Dake said. “But I’m not scared, so I’m not going to let him do that. We both kind of know that we both have that same, similar attitude where, you know, I’m taking away his dreams and he’s trying to take away mine. That’s just how it is. It comes with the sport.”

Dake was one of three semifinalists for the Big Red – along with 125-pound freshman Nahshon Garrett and 184-pound senior Steve Bosak.

Garrett squared off with Big 10 champion Jesse Delgado of Illinois, who came out firing from the start. The Fighting Illini grappler took a lead shortly after the opening whistle with a takedown and never looked back in a 10-5 decision. He will take on Virginia Tech’s Jarrod Garnett in the morning.

Three-time All-American Bosak went toe to toe with top-seeded Ed Ruth of Penn State in the semis, however, Ruth’s first period takedown, escape and riding time gave him a 4-1 decision over the Big Red grappler.

Steve Santos of Columbia, like Bosak, faced the number one seed, as he wrestled Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State at 149 pounds.  Oliver scored early on his feet and led throughout in a 13-4 major.

While Dake, Garrett, Santos and Bosak ensured themselves spots on the medal stand earlier on Friday, 141-pounder Mike Nevinger needed a victory over Iowa’s Mark Ballweg in his first match of Session 4 to repeat as an All-American.

He got it done, beating the Hawkeye for the second time this season.

Nevinger, Photo by BV

The Big Red junior got off to a fast start, converting a Ballweg shot into a takedown of his own.  He quickly added a pair of back points and rode Ballweg out to take a 4-0 lead into the second with over two minutes of riding time.

The fireworks really started in the final stanza, when Ballweg made a furious comeback attempt, taking the Big Red wrestler down three times and earning a reversal.  However, Nevinger held on for the 12-8 win and a spot on the podium.

“It started off pretty good,” Nevinger said. “I got a takedown and a turn so I was up pretty big, 5-0, after ride time in the first period.  I wish I had closed it out a little better, but I mean, a win is a win.”

For Nevinger, it was the fourth victory in a row after losing in the opening round in overtime to Virginia Tech’s Zach Niebert.

“It was pretty heartbreaking, I mean, I came in here wanting to win,” Nevinger said of the first round loss. “I recomposed myself and I knew my team needed me. Two-time All-American is not bad at all.  I needed to come back for my team and for myself.”

Nevinger did that and kept the momentum going later Friday night when he topped Minnesota’s Nick Dardanes to ensure he will finish higher than he did a year ago when he took seventh.

Also in the Round of 12 was Binghamton’s Donnie Vinson.  The senior made a seven-match run to third place after losing in the first round in 2012.  He once again had a winning streak after an early setback in his senior campaign, however, it came to an end on Friday night.  Vinson led Oregon State’s Scott Sakaguchi for most of the match, but the Beaver grappler notched a takedown late in the third period to earn the victory.  Vinson completes his career with the Bearcats with the most wins in the history of the program as well as a plethora of additional accolades.

Maryland’s Christian Boley also came within one win of the medal stand, dropping a bout to Oklahoma State’s Blake Rosholt.

So at the end of Day 2, there are five All-Americans from New York, all of whom will finish in the top 6. Stay tuned to see where they place on Saturday.

Upcoming Matches:

125: Nahshon Garrett vs. Jarrod Garnett (Virginia Tech)

141: Mike Nevinger vs. Hunter Stieber (Ohio St)

149: Steve Santos vs. Scott Sakaguchi (Oregon St)

165: Kyle Dake vs. David Taylor (Penn St)

184: Steve Bosak vs. Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland)

NCAA Session 3: Cornell's Garrett Upsets McDonough, Joins Dake, Bosak and Santos in the Semis

 
 
4-for-4 for New York.  In the Friday quarterfinals, Columbia’s Steve Santos and the Cornell trio of Nahshon Garrett, Kyle Dake and Steve Bosak all punched their tickets to the semifinals while solidifying All-American status.  They won’t be the only Empire State wrestlers in action in the evening, however, as the Big Red’s Mike Nevinger (141), Binghamton’s Donnie Vinson (149) and former Brockport standout Christian Boley (Maryland, 197) will compete in the Round of 12, looking to make the podium.

 

Binghamton:

Vinson, Photo by BV

Donnie Vinson continued his run through the consolations, beginning the morning with a victory over Michigan State’s Dan Osterman before an impressive 12-0 major over Michigan’s Eric Grajales.  197-pounder Nate Schiedel also got off to a winning start on Friday when he handled UTC’s Nik Brown.  In his second contest, he took an early lead against Iowa’s Nathan Burak, however, the Hawkeye followed by hitting a headlock and registering the fall.

133-pounder Derek Steeley was eliminated in the morning session with a loss to Maryland’s Geoff Alexander.

Upcoming Match

149: Donnie Vinson vs. Scott Sakaguchi (Oregon State) – Round of 12

 

Buffalo:

John-Martin Cannon endured a significant injury in his first match of the tournament, a victory over 12th seeded Mathew Miller of Navy.  He continued to battle, beginning his consolation action on Friday with a 3-2 tiebreaker win over Cal State Bakersfield’s Bryce Hammond.  After finishing regulation knotted at 1 and a scoreless sudden victory period, Cannon notched a reversal to move ahead 3-1.  Hammond later escaped, but it wasn’t enough.

Cannon next took the mat against Ohio’s Cody Walters.  The Bobcat got on the board first with a first period takedown and the wrestlers later traded escapes, resulting in a 3-1 decision for Walters.

 

Columbia:

Steve Santos became the school’s first All-American since Matt Palmer in 2007 when he defeated Air Force’s Cole Von Ohlen in the quarterfinals.  The Columbia senior avenged a loss to Von Ohlen at last year’s NCAAs.

The Ivy Leaguer took a 4-1 lead into the third period, where he brought his riding time advantage to over two minutes.  However, late in the stanza, his opponent escaped and then picked up a takedown with less than 20 seconds to go to make it 4-4 on the scoreboard.  Santos’s riding time was the difference in the 5-4 decision.

EIWA finalist Matt Bystol and senior Stephen West each collected a victory in their first trip to the NCAAs, before completing their seasons on Friday.

Upcoming Match

149: Steve Santos vs. Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State), Semifinals

 

Cornell:

Garrett, Photo by BV

The Big Red wrestlers combined for a 5-0 record during Session 3, including a sweep of quarterfinal matches by Nahshon Garrett, Kyle Dake and Steve Bosak.  Garrett took on three-time NCAA finalist Matt McDonough of Iowa at 125 and fell behind 2-0 on a late first period takedown.  However, he got a key escape with just seconds left in the period to trail 2-1 after the opening stanza.  Garrett selected bottom and after McDonough notched just over a minute of riding time, the Cornell freshman got out to tie the score at 2.  Going into the third, the Hawkeye chose down and Garrett put on a dominant performance from the top position, riding the two-time NCAA champion out and forcing overtime.  (Garrett wound up with 58 seconds of riding time).

Garrett wasted little time in the sudden victory period, going on the offensive and earning the takedown to win a dramatic 4-2 match.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Garrett said. “I was much more excited than nervous. I didn’t think any of the pressure was on me.  I just went out there and wrestled.  I shot a couple of doubles earlier and got to his body. That last one [in sudden victory] was just a matter of strength and finishing.  It was just an awesome experience.”

There was far less drama for Kyle Dake at 165, as he controlled his bout against Virginia’s Nick Sulzer from the opening whistle.  Dake had his way in all three positions as he triumphed 13-0 in a match that was never in doubt. The win ensured that Dake will be a four-time All-American, although he’s shooting for loftier goals.

Steve Bosak made it two wins for the Big Red over the Hawkeyes on Friday morning when he defeated Ethen Lofthouse at 184.  After a scoreless first, Lofthouse chose bottom and Bosak went to work, remaining in control for the entire two minutes.  In the third, Bosak escaped quickly and added a takedown. With riding time tacked on at the end, the final score was 4-1.

Mike Nevinger made it three in a row in the wrestlebacks with a fall against Chris Mecate of Old Dominion in his opening action on Friday, followed by a 7-2 win over Missouri’s Nick Hucke later on.  The latter win avenged a loss to the Tiger at the Grapple at the Garden.

Upcoming Matches

125: Nahshon Garrett vs. Jesse Delgado (Illinois), Semifinals

165: Kyle Dake vs. Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma St), Semifinals

184: Steve Bosak vs. Ed Ruth (Penn St), Semifinals

141: Mike Nevinger vs. Mark Ballweg (Iowa), Round of 12

 

Hofstra:

Steve Bonanno and Jamie Franco began Friday with victories in the wrestlebacks.  Bonanno topped Cal State Bakersfield’s Tyler Iwamura 7-4 while Franco triumphed in overtime for the second straight time when he reversed North Carolina’s Joey Ward in the tiebreakers to win 3-1.  Both completed their NCAA runs in the next round, however as Minnesota’s David Thorn topped Bonanno and Central Michigan’s Scotti Sentes defeated Franco at 133. Luke Vaith also completed his season on Friday, against Missouri’s Nick Hucke.

 

Additional New York Natives in the Field

Boley, Photo by BV

Christian Boley of Maryland collected a pair of victories on Day 2 to earn a spot in Session 4 Friday evening.  He first upended Arizona State’s Jake Meredith 6-3 before over Phil Wellington of Ohio.

Upcoming Match

Christian Boley (Maryland) vs. Blake Rosholt (Oklahoma St), Round of 12

It's Time: NCAA Division I Brackets Revealed; Dake the Top Seed at 165

 

It’s Time! The NCAA released the brackets for the championships in Des Moines, Iowa starting next week. You can find them here.

The following are the wrestlers with New York ties going to the tournament. (Combination of wrestlers from New York Colleges and New York High School wrestlers).  If any are missing, please feel free to comment below.

125 Pounds
Brown, Billy Watterson (John Jay)
Buffalo, Max Soria (Kings Park)
Cornell, Nahshon Garrett (Chico, CA)
Hofstra, Steve Bonanno (Wantagh)

133 Pounds
Binghamton, Derek Steeley (Broken Arrow, OK)
Bloomsburg, Nick Wilcox (Greene)
Columbia, Matt Bystol (Libertyville, IL)
Hofstra, Jamie Franco (Monroe Woodbury)
North Carolina State, Sam Speno (Fox Lane)

Rider, Jimmy Morris (St. Anthony’s)

141 Pounds
Army, Connor Hanafee (Monsignor Farrell)
Cornell, Mike Nevinger (Letchworth)
Harvard, Steven Keith (Shoreham Wading River)
Hofstra, Luke Vaith (Hastings, MN)

149 Pounds
Army, Daniel Young (Culver Academy, IN)
Binghamton, Donnie Vinson (Whitney Point)
Buffalo, Blake Roulo (Matoaca, VA)
Columbia, Steve Santos (Brick, NJ)
Cornell, Chris Villalonga (Blair Academy, NJ)
Ohio State, Ian Paddock (Warsaw)

157 Pounds
Columbia, Jake O’Hara (Crestwood, PA)

165 Pounds
Army, Paul Hancock (Fordson, MI)
Bloomsburg, Josh Veltre (Greece Olympia)
Buffalo, Mark Lewandowski (Lancaster)
Columbia, Josh Houldsworth (Holly, MI)
Cornell, Kyle Dake (Lansing)
Edinboro, John Greisheimer (Wantagh)
Indiana, Ryan LeBlanc (Morrisville-Eaton)

174 Pounds
Buffalo, John-Martin Cannon (Brockport)

Columbia, Stephen West (Buchanan, CA)

184 Pounds
Binghamton, Cody Reed (Walton)
Cornell, Steve Bosak (State College, PA)

197 Pounds
Army, Bryce Barnes (Kempsville, VA)
Binghamton, Nate Schiedel (Caledonia Mumford)
Cornell, Jace Bennett (Amarillo, TX)
Maryland, Christian Boley (Brockport)

285 Pounds
Cornell, Stryker Lane (Norwood, CO)

Penn, Steven Graziano (Syosset)

 

Or By College

Army

141 – Connor Hanafee; 149 – Daniel Young; 165 – Paul Hancock; 197- Bryce Barnes

Binghamton

133 – Derek Steeley, 149 – Donnie Vinson; 184 – Cody Reed; 197- Nate Schiedel

Bloomsburg (NY Natives Only)

133 – Nick Wilcox (Greene), 165- Josh Veltre (Greece Olympia)

Brown (NY Natives Only)

125 – Billy Watterson (John Jay)

Buffalo

125 – Max Soria; 149 – Blake Roulo; 165- Mark Lewandowski; 174- John-Martin Cannon

Columbia

133 – Matt Bystol; 149 – Steve Santos; 157 – Jake O’Hara; 165 – Josh Houldsworth; 174 – Stephen West

Cornell

125 – Nahshon Garrett; 141 – Mike Nevinger; 149 – Chris Villalonga; 165 – Kyle Dake; 184 – Steve Bosak; 197- Jace Bennett; 285-Stryker Lane

Edinboro (NY Natives Only)

165 – John Greisheimer (Wantagh)

Harvard (NY Natives Only)

141 – Steven Keith (Shoreham Wading River)

Hofstra

125 – Steve Bonanno; 133 – Jamie Franco; 141 – Luke Vaith

Indiana (NY Natives Only)

165 – Ryan LeBlanc (Morrisville-Eaton)

Maryland (NY Natives Only)

197 – Christian Boley (Brockport)

North Carolina State (NY Natives Only)

133 – Sam Speno (Fox Lane)

Ohio State (NY Natives Only)

149 – Ian Paddock (Warsaw)

Penn (NY Natives Only)

285 – Steven Graziano (Syosset)

Rider (NY Natives Only)

133 – Jimmy Morris (St. Anthony’s)

 

 

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.

Catching Up With Cornell: Rob Koll's Update Following the Scuffle and Lehigh/Princeton

 
 
 

By Rob Koll

It has been a busy couple of weeks with competition and two-a-day practices.

In the future we will not be wrestling Lehigh on the first weekend of January. When we returned to Ithaca from the Southern Scuffle the guys barely had enough time to have their singlets washed.  We immediately hopped on a bus for Lehigh, made weight, wrestled and returned to Ithaca. Considering the travel situation, I was pleasantly surprised that the team still wrestled well against Lehigh. I had been warned by more than a few Cornell wrestling fans, but primarily Buzz Bishop, that I might as well stay in Lehigh if we lost. I think he was kidding but there is almost always truth to humor!

Here is a quick rundown of recent activities.

Southern Scuffle (SS)/Lehigh/Princeton observations: 

125 Nahshon Garrett lost one close match at the SS to the eventual champion but scored major decisions and tech falls against every other opponent.  At Lehigh he got off to a slow start but kept the pressure on, ultimately racking up a technical fall. In the Princeton match, Nahshon was determined to register his first career fall. He is great at scoring points but terrible at pinning his opponents (25-3 no falls). With the Pin Pool currently at $1,268 per pin he knew he had to work on this weakness. Unfortunately he still has work to do. He looked good winning 10-0, but that will not keep the lights on! Nahshon grows a little more dominant and gains a little more confidence every day. He has the physical, technical and mental skills to win the NCAA title this year.

133 Bricker Dixon did not perform will at the SS. He lost two matches because he could not get off the bottom. He has been working on this weakness ever since the Las Vegas Invite but we have yet to see significant results. This is even more frustrating because he is so strong everywhere else. Against Lehigh, Bricker defeated #13 Cruz 2-1. Bricker dominated the first two periods. He took Cruz down and rode him and then rode him out the entire second period. In the third period Bricker’s bottom struggles continued as he was ridden for the entire period. Bricker looked great against Princeton on his feet but most importantly he quickly escaped from the bottom! We expected Bricker to contend for the 125-pound weight class this year but since Nick Arujau has struggled with his weight we have relied on Bricker to carry the load. He is finally lifting into the weight class and could contend for the Eastern title if he continues to improve on his bottom work.

Nick Arujau has finally gotten his weight back down, but he will have to prove himself in open tournaments before I give him an opportunity to regain the starting role.

141 Mike Nevinger has completely regained his swagger. He won the SS championship by defeating a returning All-American, and the country’s #4 ranked wrestler. Mike is finally scoring from the neutral position again after suffering through a painfully long scoring drought. That is not to say that Mike was not winning, just that he was relying too much on his top work to win matches.  Against Lehigh and Princeton, Mike dominated both matches, but since he failed to register any falls he is in our doghouse.

149 Chris Villalonga had to forfeit to 5th place after getting knocked out in the consolation wrestlebacks. The good news is Chris is doing well and has been cleared to wrestle.

149 Ryan Dunphy went 3-2 at the SS but failed to place. He lost an OT heartbreaker at Lehigh but then came back and avenged an early season loss by defeating the Princeton wrestler 5-3. Ryan is very tough and talented. He needs to make a better effort of riding his opponent. He will score three takedowns, quickly get away from his opponent when he has to go down, and still not even be close to securing riding time! That one point has cost him two to three matches this year.

157 Chris Dowdy is going to be very good but he needs to get a great deal stronger, and he needs to diversify his attacks. He has an explosive double leg that worked well in high school and currently works against weaker college opponents. Unfortunately once his momentum is stopped he doesn’t have the strength to finish his move. He is only 18 years old so I don’t expect that this problem will be a problem for long.

165 Kyle Dake defeated last year’s Hodge Award winner David Taylor to become only the second person to ever win four SS titles. Against Lehigh we bumped him up to wrestle #11 Nathaniel Brown. Kyle dominated the match, winning by six. Against Princeton Kyle finally helped us pay some bills by registering a quick first period fall.

174 Marshall Peppelman won four matches and placed 8th at the SS. He did not wrestle against Lehigh because Kyle moved up but he did win against Princeton. In the Princeton match Marshall put himself to his own back and had to come back from a five-point deficit. Marshall fought back and registered a 10-5 victory.

We need to figure out who will be our starter at this weight. Both Duke Pickett and Marshall have had respectable seasons thus far. We will wrestle these two off this week.

184 Steve Bosak defeated one returning All-American before falling in the finals to returning NCAA champion Ed Ruth at the SS. At Lehigh, Steve dropped a tough OT match to 2x All-American Rob Hamlin. Steve had 57 seconds of riding time but was unable to secure the last three seconds, sending the match into OT. To Steve’s defense he has only been back in the room for just over a month so I expect to see significant improvements in him up until the NCAA tournament.

197 Jace Bennett won five matches at the SS to place 7th.  In the Lehigh match he wrestled with absolutely no urgency and was rewarded by being ridden out for a one-point loss. For the most part I felt the team wrestled well against Lehigh with the exception of Jace. His opponent stopped Jace’s double leg and Jace made no adjustments. If Jace didn’t have such exceptional talent this would not bother me so much. He needs to stop trying to “win easy” and mix it up more. As irritated as I was at him over his Lehigh performance he did help himself out by pinning his Princeton foe.

285 Neither Stryker Lane nor Jacob Aiken-Phillips placed at the SS. I sent Stryker out against Lehigh and he registered a workmanlike 3-1 decision. Jacob got the nod against Princeton and he came through with a second period fall.

All the best, Rob