The ninth-ranked Cornell wrestling team took on its toughest challenge of the season this past weekend when it met with the sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes inside of a nearly full Newman Arena on Friday night.
The Big Red was riding a wave of positive outcomes, having won eight consecutive dual meets entering Friday’s matchup, a streak that began following the heartbreaking loss to Lehigh in early January. The Buckeyes entered the matchup with a pair of wins from the previous weekend, having suffered their second loss of the year to top-ranked Penn State the week before that.
Coming into the weekend, both teams boasted nationally ranked wrestlers throughout their lineups, and six of the 10 contested bouts of the evening would see two ranked wrestlers competing against each other, while all 10 bouts produced one ranked wrestler.
The evening began at 133 pounds when third ranked Micah Jordan of Ohio State took on William Koll, a former Lansing Bobcat. Koll, a senior, stepped on to the biggest dual stage for the final time under his father and head coach, Rob Koll’s, leadership. The night did not go as Koll would have preferred as Jordan pulled away to a 23-8 technical fall, putting the Buckeyes ahead 5-0.At 157, Adam Santoro took on Ohio State’s Ke-Shawn Hayes and put his skills to the test against the sixth-ranked wrestler at the weight. Santoro fought and stayed with Hayes but could not overcome a 14-5 deficit and would see his team trail 9-0 after two bouts.
With a tough start to have to overcome for the Big Red, Cornell wrestled Andrew Berreyesa at 165. Taking on Te-Shan Campbell, Berreyesa carried a 2-1 advantage into the third, bringing the crowd to life for the first time that night. Campbell would use a late takedown and a turn to thwart the freshman’s plans of pulling the upset with an 8-2 win.
With Cornell trailing 12-0 in the team race, Brandon Womack looked to get the Big Red on the board for the first time. Womak took on a talented redshirt freshman in Ethan Smith, and the two produced a wildly entertaining contest that saw Smith toping Womak 5-4.
The 184-pound matchup was one of the more highly anticipated bouts of the day as seventh-ranked Max Dean took on top-ranked Myles Martin of Ohio State. In a rematch of their previous meeting that saw Martin prevail 17-7, Martin once again topped the Big Red’s sophomore, but by a closer,13-6, scoreline. With Dean’s loss being the fifth result of the day, Cornell went into the intermission with very little room for mistakes, trailing 18-0.
After the intermission concluded and the fans returned to their seats, the meet resumed with two heavy hitters at 197. Cornell’s Ben Honis entered the match having won his last 10 matches in a row and met up with second-ranked Kollin Moore. Moore would go on to prove himself superior with precision takedowns to win 14-4.
A heavyweight showdown is what greeted fans at the 285-pound weight class as Jeramy Sweany looked to finish his final dual meet in a Big Red singlet with a win over Chase Singletary. In a match where Sweany controlled early, the late stages went to Singletary who ground out a 6-5 decision.
The Big Red was held scoreless through the first seven bouts of the night but were in for a strong finish as Vito Arujau, Chas Tucker, and Yianni Diakomihalis took to the mat.
Arujau battled with Malik Heinselman, a talented freshman for the Buckeyes, and used his explosive speed to outlast Heinselman throughout multiple scrambles. Arujau would hold the Buckeyes’ wrestler off of the scoreboard and win the first bout of the night for the Big Red.
At 133, the Big Red sent Tucker, who entered the evening ranked thirteenth, to wrestle with sixth-ranked Luke Pletcher, in a rematch of an early scrap that saw Pletcher victorious. Both wrestlers defended well from their feet and allowed only an escape to each other during the second and third period to send the match into overtime with a 1-1 scoreline. After both sides challenged the official’s rulings in the extra periods, Tucker worked himself to his feet to capture a 2-1 victory for the Big Red.
When the final matchup of the evening came around, the Big Red were already ending the night with a loss as a team as the Buckeyes led 25-6. Despite the team score, the fans remained for the final bout at 141 between the Buckeyes’ Joey McKenna, ranked third, and Yianni Diakomihalis, ranked first. In what was a technically sound match, scrambles favored Diakomihalis, who emerged with a 7-5 win to improve to 20-0 on the season.
The Big Red finished the dual season at 13-3 and has shown promise of podium honors at multiple weights. Cornell will travel to the EIWA’s in Binghamton next weekend and will continue the push toward the NCAA Championships in late March.
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