Road trips can take a toll on a team, especially when they last more than two months. The Cornell Big Red were without a home wrestling dual meet since Nov. 17, when they came from behind to top West Virginia. Since the November home opener, the Big Red wrestled six opponents in designated road meets or at neutral site tournaments. While the Big Red’s wrestlers have been able to spend the school week on campus, the weekends have been filled with long bus rides and visiting locker rooms.
Saturday, the team and the Cornell faithful were rewarded for their patience as the 24th ranked Lock Haven Bald Eagles came to Ithaca to attempt to upset the 10th ranked Big Red. Along with the majority of seats occupied by wrestling fans, the pep band was present and looking to provide a warm reception to the Big Red.
The early afternoon dual began at 174 pounds where #15 Brandon Womack took Lock Havens Jared Siegrist. Womack, who has had an off and on rotation of starts over the last month, went to work on his home mat, accumulating a strong showing from the top position, topping Siegrist 4-3 to put Cornell ahead 3-0 in the team scoring.
At 184, the fans were treated to the first of two bouts on the day that saw two ranked wrestlers competing against one another. Cornell’s Max Dean, ranked 10th in the country, scrapped with #18 Corey Hazel, a rematch of a close 5-2 decision for Dean in the teams’ meetings from a season ago. Similar to the 2018 meeting, Dean would emerge victories thanks to a 7-5 decision to put Cornell ahead 6-0.
The Big Red would look to firmly entrench itself with a lead heading into the third bout of the afternoon when #17 Ben Honis took advantage of the inexperience of Bald Eagle freshman Parker McClellan, finishing the match with a 15-2 major decision.
With a 10-0 lead heading into the heavyweight bout, the Big Red wrestled Jeramy Sweany who matched up with #9 Thomas Haines. The 2019 rematch of Haines 9-3 victory from last season could not be altered by Sweany, as Haines would earn a first period fall to put the Bald Eagles on the board, trailing 10-6.
As the lineups flipped to the lightest weight of 125, the Big Red would begin a roll that included five consecutive match victories. At 125, #11 Vito Arujau was in control of Lock Haven’s Luke Werner from start to finish as he won 11-4, running out of time in his efforts for a major decision. With the win, Arujau gave Cornell a 13-6 lead at the intermission.
The 133-pound match would prove to be a thriller for the second weekend in a row as Cornell’s Chas Tucker, ranked 12th, need overtime in consecutive matches to finish off DJ Fehlman with a takedown and two back points in a 9-5 victory.
At 141, it came as no surprise to see #1 Yianni Diakomihalis immediately begin asserting his dominance at the weight class as he overpowered #20, Kyle Shoop. With time winding down in the second period, Diakomihalis pinned Shoop, growing the Cornell lead to 22-6.
Needing only three team points to clinch the victory over the Bald Eagles, Johnathan Furnas separated himself from Johnathon Ross, securing an eight-point victory, 10-2, and four team points, securing the win for the Big Red. Without the burden of team scoring to worry about, Cornell sent Adam Santoro to wrestle Alex Klucker, a 2018 NCAA qualifier for Lock Haven, at 157 pounds. Santoro found himself trailing by a 5-0 deficit before finding himself in on a shot, catching Klucker’s leg. With the ensuing scramble, Santoro, caught Klucker shifting his weight, earning the takedown and immediately exposing Klucker’s shoulders to the mat. A few exhilarating seconds later, Santoro earned the fall, upsetting Klucker and bringing the Friedman Wrestling Center into an uproar.
In the final bout of the afternoon, with the Big Red leading 32-6, freshman Andrew Berryesa found himself taking on Lock Haven’s fifth-ranked Chance Marsteller. Amassing a significant amount of riding time and showing his experience, Marsteller would hand the Big Red just its second bout loss of the day, 9-2.
Cornell, now 9-2 on the dual season, will put its 3-0 Ivy League record to the test with the league title on the line, next weekend with a Friday night dual with Penn and a Saturday meet with Princeton.
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