When the final hand was raised at Lehigh’s Stabler arena, Cornell extended its conference championship winning streak to four, crowned five champion, two third, and one forth place finishes.
Coach Rob Koll was named 2010 EIWA Coach of the Year, Mack Lewnes was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler, and Troy Nickerson was awarded the John Fletcher Memorial Trophy, given to the wrestler that has earned the most career points for their team.
Cornell qualifies eight wrestlers for NCAA Championships in Omaha, Nebraska on March 18-20 at the Qwest Center: Troy Nickerson(1ST @ 125), Mike Grey (1ST @ 133), Kyle Dake(1ST @ 141), Justin Kerber(3RD @ 165), Mack Lewnes (1ST @ 174), Steve Bosak(4TH @ 184), Cam Simaz(1ST @ 197), and Josh Arnone(3RD @ 285). With 4 returning AAs and 4 hopefuls heading to Nebraska, the Big Red send a strong team to the NCAA championships to compete for the coveted team title.
It was a donnybrook among the next six competitors who entered the 2nd day with nearly equal number of wrestlers competing for a 3rd place finish. Penn and Lehigh began the day tied for 2nd followed by Bucknell, American, Navy, and Rutgers. But it was Penn who managed to overtake Lehigh and finish second by a narrow margin of victory, 113 to 109.5.
With Cornell’s out sized victory this weekend, the conference is sure to grow stronger in 2011 as the conference rivals will surely be aiming to dethrone the team with the streak. No doubt Coach Koll takes pride in having the Big Red target on their backs. It’s his measure of success.
Interviews with Coach Koll, Nickerson, Lewnes, and Dake
Nickerson did what he was expected to do — win and win convincingly. In the finals he matched up with the brother of the late Adam Frey, Garette of Princeton. Frey had an outstanding tournament as he defeated the 2nd seed, Joseph Langel(Rut) by pin and the 3rd seed Jason Borschoff(Am) by 6-1 decision in the semifinals. Unseeded and taking third at this weight was former New York State champion at 119 in 2009, Steven Keith.
The finals at this weight was a showdown between the returning 2nd at this weight, Mike Grey(Cor), and 3rd Matt Fisk(Le). Fisk challenged Grey for 2 periods as each point Grey earned was hard fought, but Grey opened the score up in the 3rd as he went on to secure an 8-2 victory. Taking third for Bucknell was Dave Marble, 2006 New York State champion at 125.
Dake narrowly defeated his opening round opponent with a 5-4 victory. Though he easily won his semifinal bout by 6-2 decision, his talent for punishing opponents on top were missing. If he lost those skills on day one, he found them on day two as he punished his opponent on top and earned the riding time point. Dake demonstrated the talent that make him the top contender at 141. Constant motion from neutral and a counter attack on his feet that dumbfounds fans and opponents. Dake defeated Jordan Lipp(Am) by 9-2 decision to win his first EIWA championship.
This weight had 3 top 10 ranked (Intermat) opponents competing for the gold medal: Kevin LeValley(Buc) ranked 7th; Kyle Borschoff(Am) ranked 9th, and Matt Kyler(Army) ranked 10th. Kyler the returning 2nd place winner of 2009 faced off against the 1st seed LeValley. Kyler scored the first takedown and the second and won a 5-3 decision. Taking 3rd was Steven Garjales of Penn, the 7th seed at the weight.
JP O’Connor(Har), 2-times New York State champion, defeated Bryce Saddoris(Navy). Saddoris finished first at 149 in EIWA last season. After no score in the first period, O’Connor escaped in the 2nd period and scored the takedown to go ahead 3-0. Saddoris attempted a late takedown in the closing seconds of the third period to tie it, but O’Connor defended to win the gold at 157. Second seed and 4th ranked competitor, Steve Fittery(Am), was upset in the semifinals by Saddoris by 3-2 decision. Fittery wrestled back to 3rd to finish the tournament.
Andrew Rendos (Buc) defeated Brandon Hatchett(Le) with a convincing 7-2 decision. Rendos outscored his opponent 7-0 as they entered the third period. Hatchett, choosing neutral in the third, scores the takedown and the only points he will score in the bout. Justin Kerber(Cor), after losing a narrow decision to Hatchett in the semifinals, wrestles back to take third.
Mack Lewnes entered the tournament with a 32-0 undefeated record and exited with a 36-0 undefeated record and the MOW. He defeated Scott Giffen of Penn by 9-2 decision to win the tournament. Shane Riccio of Bucknell, the third seed, wrestled back to take third after losing to Giffen in the semifinals.
Michael Cannon(Am) scored the opening takedown and held onto the lead as he defeated Louis Caputo(Har) by decision 5-1. David Craig(Le) after losing Caputo in sudden death victory in the semifinals, wrestled back to third, defeating Steve Bosak(Cor) by decision, 8-5.
Micah Burak(Penn) defeated the 2nd seed, Richard Starks(Army), in the semifinals by decision in the second tiebreaker. He faced the number one seed, Cam Simaz. Simaz scored all his points in the first period and successfully defended Burak for the victory. Starks wrestled back to take third over Danail Mitchell.
Zachery Rey(Le) squared off with Dominick Russo(Rut) in the finals. After a scoreless, first period Rey earned the escape to take the 1-0 lead. Without attempting to ride his opponent, Rey gave up the escape for the tie. Bewildered, I asked out loud why he would give up the point in a close match without even trying. My neighbor 2 seats away said, “he’s trying to conserve energy.” We laughed. With the approching last seconds of the bout, the third period ended tied at one. Rey escaped a 2nd time in the 2nd tiebreaker for the win. Josh Arnone(Col) wrestled back to third after losing a hard fought battle to Reay.