What: #2 Iowa State vs. #7 Cornell University
When: Sunday January 31st, 2010
Time: 1pm EST
Where: Newman Arena
Coverage: Live Text (Courtesy of Light House Wrestling)/Live Video (Courtesy of Cornell Redcast)
The Matchup: #2 Troy Nickerson (Cornell) vs. #5 Andrew Long (ISU)
Synopsis: Nickerson, the defending National Champion, will be the biggest test of the season for redshirt Freshman, Long…Coming off of a decision victory over Lehigh where his coach Rob Koll commented that the Big Red senior started strong but faded towards the end, Nickerson should come out intent on demonstrating that with his first one-hour weigh-in under his belt, he now has his stamina where it needs to be and will be able to finish just as strong as he starts. Against an aggressive and immensely polished opponent like Long, Nickerson can little avoid to be fatigued in the final two minutes. Another concern that Big Red fans have every time the 3x All-American takes the mat, is the stability of his surgically repaired shoulder…For the past 2.5 seasons, the #2 ranked wrestler in the land has had to deal with the shoulder popping in and out. In fact, it was the shoulder that caused Nickerson to default in the finals of the Southern Scuffle to Angel Escobedo, his lone loss during the 2009/2010 season…An absolute leech from the top position, it should be expected that Nickerson might attempt to shorten the match by riding Long hard with the hopes of earning the RT point….If on Sunday, Koll and staff make the decision to hold Nickerson out, the Big Red will not lose much in terms of quality thanks to top-reserve Frank Perrelli…With 20+ wins on the season, Perrelli would be a starter on most teams in the country. He is clearly top-25 caliber and will be ready to answer if called upon….Countering for Iowa State will be Long, who is putting together one of the best freshman campaigns in the country this season. In fact, in a thread appearing on themat.com, it was the opinion of the majority that next to Cornell’s Kyle Dake (who we will discuss later), Long might be having the top season among first year wrestlers. A finalist at the Midlands in December, Long pinned 2009 All-American Brandon Precin. He has since added wins over another All-American, Minnesota’s Zach Sanders, as well as a recent victory over national qualifier, Chris Notte from Oklahoma State….Known to be a quick striker, regardless of which of the talented Cornell wrestlers he faces, he will be looking to build a big lead early…The more the match takes place on the feet, the more I feel it favors the Cyclone freshman…Still, it’s never wise to pick against a returning Champ !
Prediction: Nickerson wins by decision
Projected Team Score: 3-0 Cornell
The Matchup: #8 Mike Grey (Cornell) vs. #13 Nick Fanthorpe (ISU)
Synopsis: A battle of 2008 All-Americans who while steady in 2009, failed to return to the podium…Thus far in 2010, each has shown glimpses of that form that made aforementioned All-Americans…Battling some injuries on and off during the season, Fanthorpe finished 5th at Midlands and has been competitive in every match, losing close decisions to several top-10 ranked wrestlers. Above all else, Fanthorpe is a guy who has guts. He does not concede anything and will push his opponent for the full seven minutes (and sometimes longer in the case of the marathon NCAA tournament match in 2008)…Having split his last four matches, the Cyclone senior could really put Cornell in a mini hole should he be able to get the best of Grey….Grey, who won the last time these two wrestlers faced off, 7-5 a little over a year ago, seems to save his best wrestling until the second half. While not a bad starter, it would be an understatement to say that he is not a heck of a stronger finisher, especially in 2010…A winner of seven of his last 10 matches, Grey has beaten the likes of fab frosh Tyler Graff, returning All-American Steve Bell, and NCAA qualifier Matt Fisk since Dick Clark rang in the New Year…The last time I saw Grey, his shots looked about as quick and smooth as I have ever seen them…If Cornell has any hopes of pulling the upset in front of their home crowd, it is imperative rankings hold up and the junior classman from the Garden State gets his arm raised.
Prediction: Grey wins by decision
Projected Team Score: 6-0 Cornell
The Matchup: #1 Kyle Dake (Cornell) vs. 14 Dalton Jensen (ISU)
Synopsis: Further adding to the tradition of strong true freshman campaigns, Dake has been every bit as good in 2010 as were current teammates Nickerson, Grey, Lewnes, and Simaz were in their first year competing for EIWA powerhouse Big Red. Sporting an overall record of 22-2, the former 3x NHSCA National Champion has beaten a who’s who of collegiate wrestlers this season…Currently holding the #1 ranking in the nation, the Lansing, NY product has a pair of wins over returning All-American Alex Krom (Maryland), as well as a victory over Chris Drouin. In two meetings with returning national finalist, Reece Humphrey, the true frosh has split, losing the first battle before avenging the loss at the National Duals…Dake is strong in all three positions and at times can be an absolute nightmare to try to take down. Referred to as “another Nickerson” by Koll when he stepped foot on campus, Dake has not failed to meet the level of expectation that his coaches have placed on him…Much like the first two matches of the dual, a Big Red victory will likely require that Dake do his job and earn the “w” for the team….Standing in his way is the Cyclones’ Dalton Jensen…Originally expected to serve as the back-up to All-American Nick Gallick, Jensen was summoned into action when it was learned early that Gallick would be sidelined for a prolonged period of the season (now confirmed as the entire season) with an injury. Since stepping into the line-up, the Clone sophomore has more than earned his keep, wrestling his way into the top-15 of the national rankings….While Jensen has experienced a bit of misfortune of late, losing four of his last five bouts, it is important to point out that regardless of his record, he is at all times dangerous, as was evident when he stuck Krom at the National Duals. This kid is a pinner. Should he lock something up and earn the fall, it could be lights out for Cornell’s upset bid.
Prediction: Dake wins by decision
Projected Team Score: 9-0 Cornell
The Matchup: Corey Manson (Cornell) vs. #10 Mitch Mueller (ISU)
Synopsis: When I saw Manson last season, I could not help but notice how jacked this kid was…In fact, in the dual last season against Hofstra, Manson has built up a sizable early lead against the host school’s Justin Accordino, before getting thrown and pinned. While the end result was not the one that was desired, it was the early lead that really caused me to become a fan of the Cornell wrestler. His early efforts demonstrated that he is capable of hanging in with a national caliber opponent….And, that is just what Iowa State’s Mitch Mueller happens to be…A third place finish at the NYS Intercollegiate Tournament put Manson over the 20 win mark on the season. Therefore, the ability is there to compete…Pitted against a top-10 guy like Mueller will certainly test this ability…A member of one of the most highly regarded recruiting classes in ISU history, Mueller, while productive in his 3.5 years as a starter for Cyclones, has yet to reach the pinnacle, a spot on the podium as an NCAA All-American. He will be determined to put an exclamation mark on his collegiate career by accomplishing this feat. And, in order to do it, it will require that he beat opponents like Manson in the earlier rounds of the National tournament…A loser in three of his past five bouts, the ISU senior will head into this dual with some momentum, having earned a ‘w’ in the dual against Oklahoma State. If he performs like he is capable of, Mueller should win the match. In fact, as long as he does not become complacent and continues to push the action, 149 could be a spot for the Cyclones to earn a bonus point.
Prediction: Mueller wins by decision
Projected Team Score: 9-3 Cornell
The Matchup: John Basting (Cornell) vs. Andrew Sorenson (ISU)
Synopsis: While applauding the young man for his dedication and team first attitude, if I had to point at one fairly week spot in the Cornell line-up, it would likely be Basting at 157…Similar to Jensen, when the season began, it was not expected that Basting would be asked to play such a significant role in the Big Red’s success in 2010. Originally, the 157-pound weight class was going to be manned by NCAA qualifier, DJ Meagher. However, when the latter was lost for the remainder of the 2010 season, it was Basting who was chosen as the guy to step up and fill the void. Thus far, the results have been mixed with Basting being the only wrestler in the line-up who does not boost an overall winning record….Fortunately for Koll and company, 157 is no longer a beast weight for ISU either…Prior to the announcement that he would join his older brother Cael at Penn State, Cyler Sanderson would have been the guy to add power to the Clone line-up at this weight class. However, with the 2008 All-American gone for good, it was Andrew Sorenson who accepted the challenge and won the starting spot over Nate Carr Jr….Thus far, he has been very productive and clutch for Iowa State…Sorenson should take the mat on Sunday beaming with confidence, having recently upset top-15 ranked Neil Erisman. In many ways, it was this win that laid the tracks for the higher ranked Cyclones to avert Oklahoma State’s upset attempt. Without his “w”, it is likely that Iowa State does not come to Ithaca as the #2 team in all the land.
Prediction: Sorenson wins by decision
Projected Team Score: 9-6 Cornell