***Editor’s Note: Apologies for not doing a better job previewing the wrestling team for this season, real life has been getting in the way***
John Stutzman’s squad hit the ground running in their first dual meet of the 2016-17 season taking on #7 Cornell. The Big Red are a perennial top-25 team and put several wrestlers on the podium at the NCAA tournament last season including 2 individual champions.
The Bulls were without Kyle Akins at 125 pounds but true freshman Derek Spann utilized a late escape and takedown to beat Noah Baughman 6-4. Returning NCAA qualifier Bryan Lantry kept his momentum up from last season and earned a hard fought 5-2 victory over #20 Mark Grey. Lantry handed Grey his first loss of the season.
Jason Estevez made his triumphant return to the mat after an injury-plagued 2015-16 season earning a decisive 3-2 win over Will Koll, Cornell coach Rob Koll’s son giving the Bulls a quick 9-0 lead.
The Bulls then ran into a buzzsaw in the middle of the Cornell lineup. Colt Cotten lost 10-4 over #9 Joe Galasso a returning All-American, while true freshman Kobe Garrehy lost in his debut to senior Taylor Simaz 8-1. Derek Holcomb dropped a 13-6 decision at 165 before Muhamed McBryde gave #6 Brian Realbuto a run for his money in a close 8-6 decision.
The Bulls were also without returning NCAA qualifier Joe Ariola at 184 pounds, in his place Brett Perry had the daunting task of taking on returning NCAA Champion Gabe Dean. Perry was pinned in the 2nd period and gave the Big Red a 18-9 lead over the Bulls heading into the final 2 matches.
James Benjamin scored a takedown at the end of the 3rd period in his match to earn a 4-3 victory and Jake Gunning capped the match with a 5-4 decision to pull the Bulls within 3 of the Big Red to finish the match 18-15.
Overall, an excellent showing for the Bulls against a nationally-ranked opponent that is returning plenty of top talent. There’s plenty to be excited about especially if Stutzman’s squad can remain healthy. The Bulls will stay in Ithaca to compete in the New York Collegiate Championships tomorrow.