From Russia to Ithaca: Dake, Simaz, Perrelli to Compete for Team USA in a World-Class Freestyle Dual vs. Russia at Cornell

You don’t have to go across the globe to see some of the top wrestlers in the world.  On November 17, some of the best will be making the trip to Ithaca, NY.

Some Cornell greats will be involved in the festivities as Kyle Dake, Cam Simaz and Frank Perrelli, who combined for five national championships and nine All-American showings, will get another chance to perform in front of the home crowd.

“They’re all excited,” said head coach Rob Koll.  “They thought their Cornell wrestling days were over, but we just keep bringing them back in.”

The former Big Red stars will take part in a world-class freestyle dual between Team USA and the Russian National Team at 1 p.m. in Bartels Hall on the Cornell campus.

The American squad features a number of standouts, including Perelli (55 kg), Jimmy Kennedy (60 kg), Kellen Russell (66 kg), Dake (74 kg), Clayton Foster (84 kg), Simaz (96 kg) and either Olympian Tervel Dlagnev or Zach Rey at heavyweight.

“For us, it’s a great way to highlight what we have going on in upstate New York,” Koll said. “When we started here at Cornell, to think we’d have three guys who could wrestle at that level would have been a big jump.  It just shows you that you can get an Ivy League education and be training for the highest levels of wrestling in the world.”

Tickets for the event are $10 for general admission and $15 for chair back seats. As part of that price, USA National team coach and Olympic medalist Zeke Jones will be hosting a freestyle clinic from 10-12.

“We would like to sell out Bartels Hall, which holds about 4,500,” Koll said.  “Tickets have only been available for a couple of days and there are already 900 seats accounted for.”

In addition to world-class freestyle wrestling, there will be some high quality folkstyle action one day earlier in Ithaca as well.  On November 16, the Red-White Eliminations (wrestleoffs) will take place, helping to determine the starting lineup for the Big Red in 2013-14.

To purchase tickets, see Cornell Big Red tickets or call (607) 254-2327.




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


[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: 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:


By Lindsey Mechalik



Cornell Wrestling Announces the Promotion of Mike Grey to Full-Time Assistant Coach

Story courtesy of

ITHACA, N.Y. – After two seasons as a volunteer on the Cornell coaching staff, Mike Grey has been promoted to a full-time assistant coach it was announced today by Rob Koll, The David Dunlop ’59 Head Coach of Wrestling.

Grey, Photo by BV

In his two seasons as a volunteer assistant, Cornell posted a 25-5 dual meet record with two Ivy League titles, two EIWA team crowns and two top five NCAA team finishes. Big Red athletes won four NCAA titles, earned nine All-America honors, won six EIWA titles and captured seven first-team All-Ivy honors. The 2012 squad finished fourth at the NCAAs and featured three national champions, while the 2013 team was fifth overall and had four wrestlers finish in the top four of their weight class. Included was four-time national champion Kyle Dake, the 2013 Hodge Trophy winner.

Grey joined the Big Red as volunteer assistant coach in 2011 after helping the team to second-place finishes at the 2010 and 2011 NCAA championships as a student-athlete, the highest finishes in program history.

For the entire story, see this link.

"Making History and Moving On to Bigger and Better Things": Cornell Captures Seventh-Straight EIWA Title as Dake Named OW

Last year, the EIWA team championship wasn’t decided until the very last match, when American’s Ryan Flores topped Lehigh’s Zach Rey in overtime to clinch a 2.5 point victory for the Big Red over the Mountain Hawks.

This time, there was far less suspense. The Big Red led Navy by 17 points heading into the final session and finished 24.5 points ahead of the Midshipmen in the standings. In the process, Cornell became the first team to ever win seven consecutive EIWA crowns.

“We’re pretty happy with the weekend,” said head coach Rob Koll. “Seven in a row is better than six, that’s for sure. We lose two national champs next year [Kyle Dake and Steve Bosak], which will make it harder to get our eighth in row next year. But we return the other eight placewinners and that’s a pretty good start.”

Dake, Photo by Lindsey Mechalik

Leading the way for the Big Red were a trio of champions. Dake maintained his season-long dominance with a 20-5 technical fall against Columbia’s Josh Houldsworth after two pins and a major decision in his first three contests.

While it was Dake’s third EIWA title, it was the first conference crown for freshman Nahshon Garrett and 2012 NCAA champion Steve Bosak.

Garrett got the last session off to a good start for his team with a 6-1 decision over Mark Rappo of Penn in the 125-pound title bout. The Ivy League Rookie of the Year had defeated the Quaker in the tiebreakers earlier in the season.

“It was a great experience, wrestling here this weekend,” Garrett said. “I knew in the finals that he would do some of the things he did the last time we wrestled, like staying on a knee. I did better against it but I know there are still some things I need to work on.”

Right before his interview, Garrett was in charge of carrying the team hardware out of the arena and onto the team bus.

“That trophy is bigger than him,” Koll said, laughing. “Nahshon did well. But the truth is, it’s hard for me to be satisfied with Nahshon, because my expectations for him are just so high.”

The same could be said for Bosak, who took second the previous two seasons at this event, losing in the finals to Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin. The third consecutive EIWA title bout between Bosak and Hamlin didn’t happen as the Mountain Hawk grappler injury defaulted in the semifinals to Mason Bailey of Navy.

Bosak then defeated Bailey 7-1 to earn his spot atop the medal stand. The outcome not only earned a crown for the Big Red senior, but carried implications for the NCAA tournament.

“It was nice for Steve to get that title,” Koll said. “It’s no secret that we don’t want to see Ed Ruth [of Penn State] until the finals, if we can get there. So, we came in knowing that Hamlin needed to lose for that to happen. You don’t want to see medical forfeits at this time of year. I would have preferred that Steve beat Hamlin on the mat. But a loss is a loss. [Hamlin] was losing at the time of the forfeit and I think that will be reflected in the seedings.”

Several other Cornell wrestlers will be thinking about the seedings over the next few weeks as four more punched their tickets to Des Moines. Both Mike Nevinger (141) and Jace Bennett (197) grabbed third, while Chris Villalonga (149) and Stryker Lane (285) were fourth on the podium.

Nevinger lost a tight bout in the semifinals to Franklin & Marshall’s Ricky Durso, the eventual champion. He then fought back to bronze position with some late match heroics. On Saturday morning, he won in sudden victory over Lehigh’s Anthony Salupo and later on, he defeated Harvard’s Steven Keith 3-0 on the strength of an escape and takedown late in the match.

“Mike lost a tough one, but [Durso] is a really good kid who’s very funky,” Koll said. “[Nevinger] didn’t lose that match, Durso found a way to beat him. That happens sometimes. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again in Iowa.”

While Nevinger’s loss was in the semis, Bennett dropped his quarterfinal bout in the 197 bracket. However, he came storming back, with four consecutive wins, including a pin and a major.

“I’m really proud of the way Jace bounced back all the way to third,” Koll said. “He has made significant improvements this season despite his ups and downs. He’s a guy who is capable of doing some real damage at Nationals.”

Koll believes the same could be said for Villalonga and Lane. The 149-pounder sustained a deep cut over his eye, according to the coach and injury defaulted in the third place bout after winning 7-1 over Ken Theobold of Rutgers earlier in the day to secure his place in Des Moines.

Lane, who was hampered by injuries late in the season, responded to a quarterfinal loss on Friday to earn his first NCAA bid. The heavyweight won three straight in the consolations, including an exciting 8-7 tiebreaker victory over top seed Billy Smith of Rutgers. In that match, Smith had Lane on his back, close to a pin, before the Big Red wrestler fought back to tie the bout and send it overtime.

“Stryker’s a tough kid,” Koll said. “He may not be the biggest or the strongest or the fastest heavyweight in the country, but he has more heart than anyone. We get everything he has every time he goes out there. The good news is that he’s going to Nationals.”

Hoping to join Lane and the rest of Cornell’s qualifiers is 157-pounder Jesse Shanaman, who took sixth in heartbreaking fashion. He lost in sudden victory to Scott Winston of Rutgers in a bout that determined who would pick up the last EIWA automatic bid at that weight.

“There were a lot of positives this weekend and I know our team, alumni and fans are excited about the championship,” Koll said. “But it’s first our NCAA qualifier and I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get more than seven guys through to NCAAs. I really thought Jesse had back points at the end of his match against Winston. I think the only person who didn’t think so in the whole gym was the referee. We’re still hoping he’ll get a wildcard.”

Photo by Lindsey Mechalik

The Big Red earned several additional honors; or more accurately, Dake did. In addition to being named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler, he collected the Fletcher Award for most points scored in a career at EIWAs and the Sheridan Award for most falls in the least time. One honor that didn’t go Cornell’s way was EIWA Coach of the Year. And that didn’t sit well with assistant coach Damion Hahn.

“The EIWAs have been wrestled for over 100 years and in that time no team has ever won seven times in a row. What Rob [Koll] did with this team was make history and I think it’s a travesty that he didn’t receive recognition for it. Do you give the Outstanding Wrestler award to someone who almost wins? I have tremendous respect for Bruce Burnett, who is a great coach. Navy did a phenomenal job this weekend and the whole year. Hats off to them. But I think the EIWA coaches made the wrong call.”

Hahn also acknowledged, however, that his disappointment with that decision was one of few negatives over the two-day period for the Big Red.

“Everyone wrestled tough and it showed with all 10 of our guys placing,” Hahn said. “Some guys are disappointed in how they did, but for the most part, we can’t complain. We’re walking away with our seventh title in a row and we’re walking away virtually healthy. That’s a good weekend. Now, we’re on to bigger and better things.”

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

Rob Koll's Cornell Update After the Grapple at the Garden


By Rob Koll

Happy holidays to all!  Here is my Grapple at the Apple update.

Nahshon Garrett deserves a great deal of credit for competing this weekend. Nahshon sprained his ankle on Thursday and I was informed by Chris Scarlata, our trainer, that there was virtually no way he would be capable of wrestling on Sunday. A day later he was hobbling around in a boot and on crutches. The following day he snuck into the Friedman Center at night so he could try to get used to the pain. By Sunday he was wrestling. The problem is he wasn’t able to work out, and thus he had to cut all his weight the morning of the match. He looked horrible in the Missouri match, not because of the injury, but because he had not recovered from the weight cut. By the time we wrestled Oklahoma State, he had recovered, and he looked more like himself. Nahshon is one tough customer. He is also the consummate team player. His only problem is he is chronically late for everything. Travis Lee had this same malaise so I can only assume these guys have their clocks set on West Coast time. He is going to be left at the hotel the next time he shows up late. Of course if he keeps winning I might hold the bus a couple extra minutes!

Nick Arujau finally got back into the lineup but was less than impressive. Nick was one dimensional on his feet, listless on bottom and desperate on top. His performance was particularly disappointing because he has such impressive moments in the practice room. The Southern Scuffle will give us an opportunity to see both Bricker Dixon and Nick in action at the same time. The tournament results will serve as a barometer for choosing our starter at this weight class.

Mike Nevinger did not have one of his finer performances against Missouri but bounced back against Oklahoma State. I am going to give Cornell Engineering finals the benefit of this defeat. Although this was not an ideal time for our guys to be competing, coming directly off finals, I believe it might have affected Mike the most. He did not have a great week of training and it showed. I am confident we will see a vastly improved Nevinger in Chattanooga.

Chris Villalonga went 1-1 on the day winning an overtime victory over #15 Drake Houdashelt of Missouri but was defeated by #1 Jordan Oliver of OSU.  Chris frustrates his coaches when he wrestles from the tie. He is not an overpowering wrestler so when he gets tied up, he is much less effective. It seems to be a sort of safety blanket for him. He is very tough on top so he doesn’t need to score a lot on his feet but he has to score more if he hopes to get to the NCAA podium.

Jesse Shanaman returned to the lineup after a five week layoff caused by an injury. Jesse defeated a very tough Missouri opponent. Unfortunately he pulled his hamstring in the first match. We knew he hurt his hamstring but he assured us it was nothing. When he could barely defend himself against OSU we knew the injury was more than “nothing”. Although I respect Jesse for his toughness, and desire to compete, he needs to do a better job of allowing us to protect him from himself. If we let him he would bring a sleeping bag into the Friedman Training Center. He is a tireless worker but we need to make sure he is healthy in March.

Kyle Dake was named the Outstanding Wrestler for the day going 2-0 with victories over two nationally ranked opponents.

Marshall Peppelman and Duke Pickett both wrestled hard, but neither was able to come up with a victory. I am interested to see both of these wrestlers compete at the Southern Scuffle if for no other reason than to see who takes control of this weight class.

Steve Bosak returned to the mats after a two month hiatus. Steve is not at his best but still came away with victories against two nationally ranked opponents. Steve will quickly work himself back into shape and should be close to 100% for the Southern Scuffle.

Sixteen of Jace Bennett‘s nineteen matches have ended by either fall or major decision. Although this is impressive, five of these matches have ended in a negative fashion. Jace has shown great potential but giving up pins is unacceptable. Jace is great on top but gets far too reckless with his legs. Billy George and Jace will be battling in Tennessee to see who will represent the Big Red going forward.

Stryker Lane faced the 2nd and 3rd ranked wrestlers and although he wrestled hard he was unable to pull off a victory. Stryker has made significant improvements from last year and is a consistent performer for the Big Red.  He is currently ranked #1 in the EIWA at 285.

Up Next: The Southern Scuffle @ Chattanooga, TN, 1/1- 1/2

All the best, Rob

Post Las Vegas Cornell Update With Rob Koll


By Rob Koll 

Finals started this week which means amazingly we are almost halfway through the season.  I am pleased with the team’s first semester performance but of course we still have dual meets against Missouri and Oklahoma State to change my mind. This past weekend we competed at the Las Vegas Invitational.  This is typically a brutal test for our guys and this year was no exception.  Although the travel and time change is tough on the team I enjoy the competition because we get to face many Western and Midwestern competitors. 

Vegas Recap

Photo by BV

125 Nahshon Garrett (2nd) is currently 17-1 and I believe he should be 18-0.  He lost a tight might to the #4 ranked wrestler from Missouri. Fortunately he will have an opportunity to avenge his only loss next weekend at the Grapple in the Apple.  Nahshon started wrestling in eighth grade so his learning curve is ridiculously high.  He gets better every practice.  I called this one early and I don’t mind saying I told you so!

133 Bricker Dixon (DNP) wrestled hard but got a little overpowered on the mat.  His losses were all to good wrestlers but there is no such thing as a good loss.  Bricker needs to add a few pounds over the break.

141 Mike Nevinger (4th) continues to improve after getting off to a painfully slow start.  He continues to be difficult to score upon on his feet and he is brutal on top.   Going forward Mike needs to get his offense back on track.  He has a history of finishing strong therefore I expect to see continued improvement over the next couple months.

149 Chris Villalonga (6th) came into the tournament’s deepest weight unseeded and came away with a 6th place finish.  I guess we should be pleased, but Chris is much better than his placement.  Chris has been banged up and he let his injury affect his performance.  We don’t expect the injury to bother him throughout the season, but if it does, he will learn to tolerate the pain by wrestling through it.  The good news is that Chris’s worst would be considered very good on most teams.  Of course we won’t accept his worst so you can be assured he will improve.

157 Chris Dowdy (DNP) won two matches and looked very good at times.  As I’ve said before, Chris needs to gain some power to go along with his speed and technique.  This will only come with time but Chris is only a freshman so we have high hopes for his future!

165 Kyle Dake (1st) was his normal dominant self.  Kyle dominated every opponent he faced. His closest match came in the finals where he won 6-0 against the country’s #7 ranked wrestler.

174 Duke Pickett (DNP) went 2-2 on the weekend. Duke is very good on his feet but is getting beat up on the mat. This is not atypical of freshman but is unacceptable for a Cornell freshman.  Duke knows this and is working intensely to fix this weakness.

184 Craig Scott (DNP) like fellow freshmen Dowdy and Pickett, also went 2-2.  Craig also struggled getting off bottom and I attribute a great deal of that to physical strength.  Craig is 6’3’’ so when he gets extended he does not have a great deal of power.  He needs to do a better job of keeping perfect position on bottom.  He also needs to do a better job of using his length in his attacks.  He permitted a couple of his opponents to tie him up and to wrestle from the inside.  This negates his length.

197 Jace Bennett (7th) came away with a 7th place finish.  Jace has the ability to beat just about anyone.  He has great offense and is brutal on top.  His weakness is an unattractive quality of getting reversed to his back.  This is a habit that needs to get kicked quickly.

285 Stryker Lane (6th) was our third unseeded wrestler to place. Stryker has made slow but consistent improvements over his career.  He is tough to take down, good on top and bottom. He struggles offensively but has been competitive in every bout this year.

For complete results go here.

Grapple at the Apple Important Information

Ticket Information (After Friday tickets will be returned to MSG)

To purchase tickets in the Cornell section please go to:

Bus Trip (Friday cutoff)

We have 16 fans signed up to travel to the city for on December 16th for the Grapple. We need a few more travelers to make this possible. The round trip from Ithaca to NYC is $40.00 – shopping for the day if they don’t want to do wrestling …

If interested e-mail Cathy Pace –

Cornell's First Class of 2013 Recruit: FloNationals Champion Jacob Taylor Commits to the Big Red

Courtesy of Bald Eagle Area High School website

When Jake Taylor decided it was time to look at colleges, he approached it like he does everything else.

“Jake goes all out with everything he does,” said his father Doug Taylor. “He put a pin on a map within a certain radius of home and got to work, figuring out all the options.  Cornell stood out right away.  It’s a fantastic educational institution and the wrestling speaks for itself.  It turned out to be a pretty easy decision.”

That’s saying something for Taylor.  While he looked at Harvard, Lehigh, Virginia and Virginia Tech, he gave very strong consideration to West Virginia, a school that has been a part of his family for much of his life.

Jake’s father Doug was an All-American for the Mountaineers.  Two of his uncles also competed for the squad and his older brother Nicholas is a member of the West Virginia team now.

“I feel like Cornell is the right place for me,” Jake Taylor said. “I like the coaches and what they’re doing with the program. I love the area. I’ve been impressed with how the guys perform in the postseason. You can’t beat the mix of academics and wrestling and I know that there’s life after wrestling, so education is very important.”

Indeed, the academic component was key for Taylor, who according to his father “has never gotten anything other than an ‘A’ in high school” and has aspirations of being a dentist.

“24 guys have gone on to become doctors and dentists under [Cornell head coach] Rob Koll and that’s something that was very appealing,” Doug Taylor said.

The Big Red’s wrestling success was appealing as well.  Taylor, Intermat’s #50 recruit nationally, will fit right in.  After compiling a 33-3 record in his sophomore campaign for Bald Eagle Area High School in Pennsylvania, Taylor began his junior season with a fourth place showing at the ultra-competitive Super 32 tournament in North Carolina at 170 pounds.  He followed with a 38-2 mark during the high school campaign, taking third at the state championships.

Taylor kept the momentum going in the spring and summer, winning the FloNationals title at 170 pounds, besting a field of nearly 40 grapplers.  That championship run included an overtime victory over Zach Nevills, a California state champion (and four-time Golden State placer) now at Stanford.  For good measure, Taylor also defeated some highly touted foes at the Disney Duals while wrestling for Team Young Guns, including nationally-ranked Brett Harner of Norristown Area High.

With his college decision made, Taylor is focused on winning his first state title.  He said he will likely wrestle at 182 pounds. (He is currently ranked sixth nationally at that weight).

“States are always important and I didn’t quite do as well as I hoped last year,” Jake Taylor said.  “I’m focused on winning this year.  I’ve wanted to be on top of that podium since elementary school and it would mean a lot to finish that way.”

And when that’s over, he is looking forward to beginning the next step in Ithaca, at a weight that will be defined later.

“One of the first things every coach we visited said to Jake was, ‘wow, you’re tall’,” Doug Taylor said.  “I was recruited as a 126 pounder and wound up at 158, so it’s hard to say where Jake will be.  He may start at 174 but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up at 184 or even higher.”

Wherever he ends up, he’s excited to be joining the Big Red.

“I’ve liked watching the Cornell wrestlers on TV the last few years – obviously Kyle Dake, Mack Lewnes, Cam Simaz and a lot of others,” Jake Taylor said.  “They wrestled well when it counted. I can’t wait to be a part of it and see where I stand.”

Rob Koll's Cornell Season Preview and 2012-13 Big Red Schedule

By Rob Koll

Photos by Boris Veysman

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)

Mike Nevinger, Photo by Boris Veysman

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)

Steve Bosak, Photo by Boris Veysman

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 12 Princeton
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

Cornell Regional Training Center Clinic Comes to Long Island May 25-26

In late April, Kyle Dake, Mack Lewnes and Frank Perrelli, representing the U.S. Regional Training Center (RTC) at Cornell, competed with the best freestyle wrestlers in the country at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

On May 25-26, Dake, Lewnes and Perrelli will come to three locations (Askren Wrestling Academy, Luthern High School and Eastport-South Manor High) for the Cornell RTC Long Island training camp.  They will be bringing some of the nation’s best with them, as NCAA champions Steve Bosak, Troy Nickerson and Cam Simaz will be on hand as clinicians as will coaches Rob Koll, Damion Hahn, Mike Grey and Clint Wattenberg.

“We are looking to put on a great clinic in a part of the state that has excellent wrestling, while also making our presence more visible in downstate New York,” Cornell head coach Rob Koll said.  “I’m not sure many people are aware that we are building our RTC in Ithaca.  We are doing more than just molding student-athletes to be All-Americans and NCAA champions at Cornell, we are also developing the RTC to help make Olympic dreams come true.”

Lewnes was one of the first to take advantage.  When he first arrived in Ithaca as a freshman in the fall of 2007, he thought he would have to go elsewhere to pursue his freestyle goals after completing his collegiate career.  However, by the time he graduated in 2011, the RTC was up and running and he was able to stay at Cornell to work on freestyle and prepare for the Olympic Trials.

The three-time All-American spent the 2011-12 campaign training with a number of individuals accomplished in the international styles at the RTC, including Olympic alternates Hahn and Wattenberg, World Championships placer Koll as well as members of the Big Red team.

“I got fantastic support and had an amazing year,” Lewnes said. “We’ve only been designated as a Regional Training Center for a few years and things are developing so fast; it’s great.  It’s only going to keep growing, especially as we bring in a freestyle coach.”

While the RTC sent three grapplers to the Olympic Trials in 2012, Lewnes and Koll expect that to change.

“We were able to support Mack, Frank and Kyle, and we’re looking to support and train more athletes over the next few years,” Koll said.  “Our goal is to help more and more people move up the ladder and work for their Olympic aspirations. Next time the Olympic Trials roll around in 2016, we want to make sure we don’t have three guys competing, but more like 10.”

Some of those future Olympic hopefuls will be at the clinic on May 25-26.  All staff members will rotate among the three sites (Askren Wrestling Academy in Somers, Luthern High School in Brookville and Eastport South Manor High in Manorville).

On Friday the 25th, the event will take place from 6-8:15 p.m.  The following day, the camp will have sessions from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3.  Lunch will be included for all on Saturday.   Registration costs $90 in advance and $100 at the door. For group discounts please call Rob Koll directly at 607-255-7307.

[button link=”” type=”big” color=”red” newwindow=”yes”] Camp Flyer[/button]



For further information or to sign up, please visit

–Betsy Veysman