Cornell Wins National Duals Regional Over Nebraska, 19-17; Dake Gets Pin in Last Home Match

It came down to heavyweight.

At the Cornell Regional of the National Duals on Sunday, the Big Red led Nebraska 19-14 going into the final bout of the day.

Stryker Lane, who had made a successful return to the lineup earlier in the day with a pin against Hofstra after a long injury layoff, took the mat against the Spencer Johnson of the Cornhuskers.

Lane, Photo by BV

After a scoreless first period, Lane began on top and while his opponent escaped, Lane aggravated his injury. The match was stopped while the heavyweight and the coaches talked about what came next.

The situation was clear – if Lane injury defaulted, Nebraska was headed to the National Duals quarterfinals next weekend in Minnesota instead of the Big Red.

“The discussion we had with Stryker was – you have to be tough,” said Cornell assistant coach Mike Grey. “Wrestle for your team right now and help the team advance. He obviously wanted to win the match, not lose close, but he got back out there and did a great job.”

“Stryker’s tough,” added 165-pounder Kyle Dake. “I knew he would be able to finish the match. He did it before for us against Harvard this year when he got hurt the first time. I think he was actually disappointed because he thought he could beat that kid.”

Lane finished with a 4-2 loss and the Big Red took the dual 19-17 to earn a spot in Minnesota next weekend.

The home team got off to a strong start against Nebraska, winning the first three bouts to take a 10-0 lead. Nahshon Garrett picked up a major at 125 while Bricker Dixon and Mike Nevinger recorded hard-fought decisions at 133 and 141.

The visiting team got on the board at 149 and 157 as Jake Sueflohn majored Chris Villalonga in a battle of ranked wrestlers before James Green won 5-2 over Cornell’s Jesse Shanaman.

And then Dake came to the mat for his final match in Ithaca as a member of the Big Red. He brought the crowd to its feet with his 16th pin of the season and his second of the day to give his squad a 16-7 advantage.

“It was bittersweet to wrestle my last match here,” Dake said. “But it was awesome, to be able to go out with a bang like that.”

Dake, Photo by BV

“It was great for Kyle to get the pin in his last home match,” Grey added. “Everybody loves him and rightfully so. He’s a hometown kid who has been great for Cornell wrestling, Cornell University and wrestling in general. People who know nothing about wrestling know about Kyle Dake.”

Nebraska wasn’t finished, however. The Huskers won two of the next three bouts, including a major by Robert Kokesh over Marshall Peppelman at 174 and a come-from-behind triumph by Caleb Kolb over Jace Bennett at 197. In between, Steve Bosak looked sharp, riding Josh Ihnen for the entire second period, in a 3-0 victory at 184.

Those results set up the dramatic conclusion at heavyweight.

While Grey was pleased with the outcome of the dual, he said there was plenty of work to do before heading to Big 10 country.

“We had some guys put on very good performances against Nebraska,” Grey said. “But unfortunately, some guys reverted back to things that have led them to lose matches throughout the season. The good thing is, there’s wrestling next weekend. It’s another chance for some of our guys to be mentally tough and turn things around.”

There was nothing to be critical about in the first dual of the day for the Big Red, however. After dropping four of the first five bouts against Hofstra two weeks ago, Cornell came out firing on Sunday on the way to a 42-0 victory over the Pride.

Dixon, Photo by BV

“It was a great performance,” Grey said. “Everyone wrestled really well. We knew we had to have intensity from the get go and our lightweights got us off to a great start. In fact, our lightweights were great in general today. Nahshon [Garrett] looked great. I think we’re starting to see Bricker [Dixon] translating what he’s doing in the room onto the mat, and more importantly he’s starting to believe. Mike [Nevinger] seems to be hitting his stride, wrestling well at this time of the year, just like he did last year when he went on to be an All-American. It was nice to see more offense from him today.”

It wasn’t just the first few weights, however. Everyone contributed against Hofstra, including falls in the final three bouts by Bosak, Bennett and Lane.

In the third place match at the Regional, Virginia defeated Hofstra, 21-15. Getting in the win column for the Pride were Luke Vaith (141), Zeal McGrew (285) and Jamie Franco (133). Franco defeated George DiCamillo, currently ranked 13th in the country.

For more on the Cornell victories, see here.

For more on Hofstra’s day in Ithaca, see here.


LIVE BLOG – National Duals at Cornell (Cornell, Hofstra, Nebraska and Virginia)

We will be doing a live blog of the National Duals on the campus of Cornell.  Round 1 (scheduled to start at 1 p.m.) will feature Cornell vs. Hofstra and Virginia vs. Nebraska.  In Round 2 (3 p.m.), the winners will face off for the right to go to the championships next weekend at Minnesota while the first round losing teams will also wrestle each other.

To join the live blog, see this link .

Big 10 Bound: National Champion Anthony Abidin Talks About His Commitment to Wrestle for Nebraska

Anthony Abidin will face top-notch competition when he takes the mat in the Big 10 for Nebraska, at 133 or 141 pounds, beginning in 2013-14.  But it’s unlikely that he’ll be intimidated by the impressive credentials of his opponents.

Last year, while wrestling for Nassau Community College, he finished the season ranked 12th at 133 pounds, but defeated several higher-seeded foes to reach the NJCAA national championship bout against Brandon Wright of Iowa Central.   When it came time for the introductions, Abidin listened while the announcer seemingly went on and on about Wright’s achievements.

“I had a good laugh about that,” Abidin said. “My intro was pretty quick, a few tournament results and a New York state championship.  And then with Wright, it was all these national championships, multiple state championships, open tournament championships.  It was like, is this over yet?”

When it came down to it, resumes didn’t matter.  The match was knotted at 4 in the third period, but the Long Island native earned the key takedown and rideout to prevail 7-4.  He was a national champion.

“I am always in it to win,” Abidin said. “I wasn’t expected to place by most people, but I came into the tournament with a goal of at least being top three.  I promised myself that I worked harder than anyone else in the bracket and if I lost it simply wasn’t meant to be.  I was on my game that whole weekend and I didn’t give up an inch.  I surprised myself in the end.”

His impressive showing a year after completing his high school career atop the podium at the New York States at 125 pounds got the attention of several Division I programs.  In fact, he first was interested in attending nearby Hofstra.  However, after a trip to Cornhusker country this past weekend, he gave his commitment to Nebraska.

“I realized that I don’t want to stay home for college.  I want to get away and experience new places and new things,” he said.  “On my visit to Lincoln, I fell in love with the atmosphere right away.  It was a perfect fit for me.  The coaches were nice and straight shooters.  I got to see the football game, wrestling practice and spent time with the team.  I really like how the team was – everyone’s focus was on getting better and helping the rest of the guys get better.”

There have been several people who have helped Abidin get better over the years.  He mentioned Steve Hromada, who played an integral role in transforming him into a state champion at Half Hollow Hills East High.  And he said he has spent countless hours working with Vougar Oroudjov, both in high school and while at Nassau, improving all aspects of his wrestling.

“I can’t thank Steve Hromada enough for all he’s done for me,” Abidin said. “And I feel the same way about Vougar.  I think I’ve developed so much.  I finally picked up the college wrestling style – being aggressive but being smart and knowing how to wrestle well on top.  I’ve gotten better at all of those things.”

Abidin will redshirt this season at Nassau and have three years of eligibility left with the Huskers.  He will no doubt put the next year to good use, including spending time on an activity that was foreign to him until recently.

“I finally started to do something called lifting,” he said with a laugh.  “I never did it in high school.   I really just started lifting this summer.  I will put in another good year of hard work and will do everything I possibly can.”

He’s known for that.  In his semifinal match against Martin Gonzalez at the NJCAA National Championships, Abidin trailed 7-2 late in the second period.  He was frustrated by his opponent backing up and the fact that there was a 20 minute stop in the action as the referees and coaches tried to sort out a dispute.

“That match just about gave me a heart attack,” he said. “After the long break, I was really aggravated because I felt like my conditioning advantage was going away.  I was down by five and I knew I had a lot of work to do.  I kept attacking and even though I wasn’t scoring off my shots, I got three stalling points.  Finally, I hit a throw-by with one second left and scored two points to win it at the buzzer 8-7. It was amazing.”

Amazing.  Just like going from sixth in the county as a high school sophomore to a scholarship athlete in the Big 10 in just a few short years.