What: #1 Cornell vs. #6 Central Michigan
When: Friday November 19th, 2010
Time: 6:30 pm EST
Where: Friedman Wrestling Center (Ithaca, NY)
The Matchup: #16 Frank Perrelli (Cornell) vs. Kyle Waldo (Central Michigan)
Synopsis: Considered one of, if not the top reserve in the country the past two years, the graduation of former 4x All-American Troy Nickerson, means that the stage has been set for Perrelli to finally show the nation what he is capable of doing. Going 21-5 overall last season, it has long been Coach Rob Koll’s position that the senior from the Garden State could have been on the podium in 2010 if not for the presence of the aforementioned Nickerson. Unfortunately, 2010/2011 has not witnessed the ideal start for Perrelli as last week in his season debut, he managed only a 3-2 record in finishing fourth at the Bearcat Open. Knowing the fortitude and sense of perseverance that this upperclassmen possesses, I fully anticipate him to come out strong tomorrow evening and demonstrate for the home fans that last weekend was the exception and not the rule….Pitted against him will likely be redshirt freshman, Kyle Waldo, who after starting his collegiate career at the University of Nebraska, has returned home and is expected to be a key contributor to the Chippewas this season. Having placed in both early season tournaments entered thus far, Waldo is off to a solid start to his college career, but the results do not warrant predicting an upset at this weight class. While Perrelli is not known for his ability to tack on bonus points, we do feel that he should have little trouble disposing of his experienced opponent….Note: With the CMU line-up far from finalized leading into the dual, don’t be surprised is sophomore Christian Cullinan gets the call for the season opener. Having put forth a similar resume to Waldo thus far in the season, Cullinan’s runner-up finish at the Eastern Michigan Open remains the highest placement for chip wrestler at this weight class. If it is Cullinan who ends up opposing Perrelli, do not expect much to change in terms of result.
Prediction: Perrelli wins by decision
Projected Team Score: 3-0 Cornell
The Matchup: #4 Mike Grey (Cornell) vs. #6 Scotti Sentes (Central Michigan)
Synopsis: The first of the three bouts of the evening pitting top-10 wrestler against fellow top-10 wrestler, this is a weight class that is hard to predict because throughout their careers, both competitors have shown an ability to be either lights out of slightly flat. Because of this history of inconsistency, it honestly is very hard to know which version of either former All-American is going to show up at the Friedman Wrestling Center tomorrow night. With tomorrow’s dual being the season debut for both guys, LHW does not even have a point of reference to go by when assessing how this bout might go. Therefore, on the assumption that both guys bring their “A” game to the mat, we feel that the home crowd and the extra year of collegiate experience will prove to be the difference in Grey getting the “w”. Coming off of a 38-6 overall (11-3 in duals) record in 2010, Grey came one victory short of earning his second All-American honor, losing in the placement round to a wrestler (Tyler Graff) that he had defeated earlier in the season. With this in mind, it goes without saying that the former 4x NJ State Champion will be as hungry as ever to conclude his college career in the same manner that it started, by stepping foot on the podium in Philadelphia. Step #1 of this goal commences tomorrow….Sentes, who himself is eager to reclaim his spot among the nation’s top-8 after experiencing a slight sophomore jinx following a remarkable true freshman campaign, has shown himself to be about as good a dual wrestler as there is on Coach Borelli’s team. Compiling a 16-3 record in duals last season, Sentes will need to come up big if the sixth ranked Chippewas are to have any hope of shocking the college wrestling world by slaying the dragon in its own backyard. Underdogs in every weight class but two, if there was ever a time that Central Michigan needed their big-gun to step up, it might be tomorrow night….Regardless of who gets their hand raised, expect for this one to be a back and forth contest that is not decided until the closing seconds….Note: Cornell lists sophomore Joe Stanzione as a possible fill-in at this weight class. Stanzione, who seems well on his way to taking the title of best back-up in the nation, previously owned by Perrelli, has had a banner start to this season, winning the Bearcat Open by defeating top-15 ranked wrestler, Kyle Hutter of Old Dominion. If Stanzione is the man that the Big Red send out tomorrow, than the fans will not be cheated in the least as this is a guy who is capable of pulling the upset. Do we think it can happen? Absolutely. Do we think that it will? Not really….With so much hype surrounding the Big Red to begin the season, if Grey can go, he will.
Prediction: Grey wins by decision
Projected Team Score: 6-0 Cornell
The Matchup: #19 Corey Manson (Cornell) vs. Scott Mattingly (Central Michigan)
Synopsis: Perhaps the most improved wrestler from last season is the Big Red’s Corey Manson. Always a capable wrestler, Manson has appeared to really elevate his game to begin this, his final year of collegiate eligibility. Being pushed all throughout the off-season by freshman phenom Chris Villalonga, the upperclassman from Tennessee really solidified his spot in the starting 10 last week when he finished as the runner-up at the Bearcat Open (going 5-1 in claiming the silver medal)…Having moved down from 149 this season, Manson who has always impressed me with his natural strength, should enjoy a decent size advantage tomorrow night. 26-15 (9-5 in duals) as a junior, Manson, like his teammate Perrelli will bring a wealth of experience to the mat when he takes on RS freshman Scott Mattingly….However, despite being youthful, Mattingly is no slouch. The recipient of the school’s “Most Outstanding Freshman” Award last season, the highlight of Mattingly’s 2010 season was likely his runner-up finish at the Eastern Michigan Open. Thus far, he has built off of the momentum created last season, placing in the first two events of the year (fifth at the Eastern Michigan Open; sixth at the Michigan State Open)….Again, when making this prediction, one cannot look past the value that experience can have, especially when you are wrestling in front of a packed house. We already know that Manson is used to the atmosphere found at each and every Big Dual at the Friedman Center, the question is, how will his freshman opponent adjust to the spotlight and the pressure? As much as we would like to give a “w” to Mattingly to make the team score closer, we just cannot justify the move.
Prediction: Manson wins by decision
Projected Team Score: 9-0 Cornell
The Matchup: #2 Kyle Dake (Cornell) vs. Donnie Corby (Central Michigan)
Synopsis: We at LHW have a deep respect for all the young men who have the bravery to step foot on the mat; therefore, we mean absolutely no disrespect to the Chippewa sophomore when we say that this bout will more than likely be completely one-sided. Again, this is in no way a slight to Corby; rather, it is a testament to the unique ability of Kid Dynamite. The lone National Champion for the Big Red last season, Dake is quickly emerging as the best ever to don the Cornell singlet (which speaks volumes when you consider the likes of Travis Lee, Troy Nickerson, Jordan Leen, etc.). 39-2 in his career, Dake is fresh off of a weekend that saw him completely take apart four of his five opponents, securing bonus point in each bout en route to the title at the 2010 Bearcat Open. The only wrestler to stay competitive was fellow former NYS Champion, Corey Jantzen of Harvard who spent the entire 2010 season training at the US OTC. Hence, if it is going to take a potential World Team member/Olympian to beat him, Dake will not be tested much in 2011…Having accumulated a respectable 16-13 record as a sophomore, we expect Corby to give it the old college try…But, when facing an elite talent like Dake, sometimes it takes more than desire and effort to earn the victory….Because Dake is not regarded as a professional pinner (only seven falls in 41 career matches), we will not give the host school six in this match. However, knowing how gifted he is from the top position, we can realistically envision Dake getting on top and tilting Corby enough times to earn the bonus points via major decision (just missing the TF by a point or two).
Prediction: Dake wins by Major Decision
Projected Team Score: Cornell 13-0
The Matchup: DJ Meagher (Cornell) vs. Eric Cubberly (Central Michigan)
Synopsis: In terms of overall competitiveness , 157 might prove to be one to watch…With Grey’s possible absence at 133, and 2x CMU All-American Mike Miller not confirmed at 165, the Meagher/Cubberly bout could end up challenging Lewnes/Bennett (174) for match of the night honors. Despite being the only bout that does not contain at least one nationally ranked wrestler, 157 is the first weight class that I would consider a true toss-up in that both student-athletes have experienced glimpses of glory surrounded by a plethora of solid performances. For the junior, Cupperly, a 7th place finish at the prestigious Midlands tournament proves that on any given day, he is more than capable of hanging with the best in the land. He accomplished this feat despite not being the everyday starter, as he was stuck behind All-American Steve Brown during the first two years of his college career. While it is never easy to step into the line-up with the responsibility of replacing a graduating All-American, we feel that Cubberly, a former 2x State Champion in Ohio, is up to the challenge. Much like Sentes, Cubberly enters the dual with the added pressure of knowing how badly his team needs for him to get the victory. In other words, if he drops this match, all hope might be lost by the time the two teams retire to the locker-room for the brief intermission….Meagher, who after missing almost all of last season following a severe injury, is probably the wrestler most looking forward to tomorrow’s dual as it marks the next step in what he hopes will be a successful return to the National tournament, which he qualified for in 2009 @149 pounds. One of several champs for the Big Red at the Bearcat Open, Meagher had about as good a start to his senior season as can be asked of him. Going a perfect 5-0 in taking home the hardware, the stud from N.H. earned bonus points in two of his first four matches (missing a third bonus point effort by a point in the quarterfinals) before defeating highly regarded Harvard sophomore, Walter Peppelman (older brother of Meagher’s teammate, Marshall) in the title bout 4-2…Because up to this point, we have sided with Cornell in every close bout, we feel the time is right that we show Borelli’s guys some much deserved respect and give them the edge in a match. Here’s to Cubberly sending the Chippewas into the break on a happy note.
Prediction: Cubberly wins by decision
Projected Team Score: 13-3 Cornell @ Intermission