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|Cornell wins EIWA Championships with two champions; Pennís Eveleth upsets Nickerson|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
EAST STROUDSBURG, PA - Led by two champions and eight placewinners, Cornell had a dominant performance on the way to the team title at the 2007 EIWA Wrestling Championships, held at Koehler Fieldhouse on the campus of East Stroudsburg University on Saturday.
Claiming individual titles for the Big Red were Jordan Leen (149), Steven Anceravage (165). Four Big Red wrestlers placed second, with a third and a fourth place finisher, giving Cornell eight qualifiers for the NCAA Championships. Cornell scored 125.5 points, 19.5 ahead of second-place Navy.
"We were hoping for at least eight qualifiers," said Cornell head coach Rob Koll, who was elected EIWA Coach of the Year. "Any more would have been a bonus. Any less would be a disappointment."
Leen stopped JP O'Connor of Harvard, 2-1. Leen scored the only takedown of the match during the second period. In the final period, O'Connor was able to ride Leen and received a riding time point.
No. 3 seed Anceravage defeated top seeded freshman Michael Cannon of American, 9-6. The match started when a Cannon takedown was waived off because of an illegal move, giving Anceravage a 1-0 lead. Anceravage scored a takedown in the first period to get an early 3-0 lead, then added takedowns in both the second and third periods to open up the match. A late Cannon takedown was not enough to close the gap.
"Leen is solid and does not make mistakes," said Cornell coach Rob Koll. "Anceverage is taking off, and he is a great tournament wrestler."
Navy placed second in the standings with 106 points, with Penn in third with 99.5 points, Lehigh in fourth with 82 points and Columbia in fifth with 74.5 points. Cornell's victory snapped Lehigh's five-year streak of winning EIWA team titles.
Navy had a pair of individual champions, Matt Stolpinski (174) and Ed Prendergast (285). Navy qualified six wrestlers for the NCAA Championships.
"I felt good about the way the guys competed. I am so proud of how they performed. Take the credentials of our athletes, and compare them with Cornell's wrestlers. I am proud that our staff has helped these young men to improve. We dug a hole early in this tournament and they responded."
Top-seeded Stolpinski scored a takedown in sudden-victory overtime to edge Matt Palmer of Columbia, 7-5. In a match where the athletes were in a series of wild scramble positions, the bout ended tied at 5-5. In another scramble in the overtime session, Stolpinski was able to free his leg from a Palmer counter and score the winning takedown.
Navy added its second champion, when top-seeded Ed Prendergast defeated Cornell's by major decision, 10-0 at 285 pounds. Prendergast scored a takedown in the first period. The larger Prendergast won all of the key positions and opened up his offense as the match went on.
"Matt Stolpinski is tenatious. Palmer is very tough. He kept hanging in there and he won it. Ed Prendergast had a dominant performance. He opened it up a little and got some good shots," said Burnett.
It was a good finals round for Penn, which won all three of the gold-medal matches which it had an entry with Matt Eveleth (125), Matt Valenti (133) and Matt Dragon (157).
"It was a good night," said Penn coach Zeke Jones. "We won all seven of our placement matches. It's great to end on a streak. It shows how well our conditioning is. This was like the second day of the NCAA Championships, so I am pleased. Our guys are on track."
The first match of the finals was one of the biggest upsets in recent EIWA tournaments. Eveleth, a senior, hit an impressive third-period headlock and defeated 2006 NCAA runner-up Troy Nickerson of Cornell, 5-3. A sophomore, Nickerson was the defending EIWA champion at this weight. Eveleth was named Outstanding Wrestler by the coaches for his victory.
There were no takedowns in the first period, but Nickerson received a point on a technical violation for a 1-0 lead. In the second period, Nickerson scored a reversal for a 3-0 lead.
Eveleth started the third period in the neutral position. With 1:30 left in the period, Eveleth hit a headlock, taking Nickerson to his back. Eveleth was able to hold Nickerson there for the rest of the period, and was very close to pinning him at times. He received three backpoints for the 5-3 victory.
"I knew I was still in it," said Eveleth. "I just kept wrestling. I wrestled hard for the full seven minutes. I felt him pushing. I knew I needed something. I just hit it."
Eveleth has not hit a headlock in competition since he was a freshman, and that did not work out as well as this one. When he realized he had the lock tight, Eveleth had to make a decision about what to do from there.
"I had it tight. First, I tried to pin him. But I knew if he could reverse me, it would be a tie match. I wanted to just hold it there, and I did," said Eveleth.
Jones, a World champion and Olympic medalist in freestyle, was joking afterwards about how he didn't teach Eveleth that headlock. He said he never did any takedowns from above the waist. Jones did credit his wrestler for following the game plan and believing in himself.
"We talked about keeping him in the match," said Jones. "We got teched a few weeks ago. He kept himself close during the bout, then he found a way to win. He attacked and that is how he found it."
Penn also won the second bout of the night, when 2006 NCAA champion Valenti defeated Cornell's Adam Frey, 4-1. No points were scored until the third period, when Valenti, who was down, got an escape and a takedown for a 3-0 lead. Valenti was penalized a point for stalling, but was not taken down, and Valenti received a riding time point for racking up 2:16 in advantage.
"Valenti continues to elevate his game," said Jones. "Ever since January, he has had that look in his eye that a champion has. His wrestling is coming together and he has a good focus."
Dragon made it three-for-three with a 10-3 win over John Jarred of Navy. Jarred scored first on a second-period reversal, but Dragon got his offense going shortly after, scoring a takedown and a tilt for a 5-2 lead after two periods. Dragon was able to score on takedowns and tilts in the final period to put the bout away.
"He did a nice job in all his positions from the top," said Jones. "He is progressing nicely on the way to the NCAA Championships. If he continues on this path, he can achieve some high goals at the national championships."
Matt Ciasulli of Lehigh won the 141 pound title with a 2-0 decision over Matt Kyler of Army. The only points scored was a takedown by Ciasulli in the first period. Both wrestlers were able to ride out their opponent on the mat. Although Lehigh had only one champion, the Mountain Hawks will bring seven athletes to the NCAA Championships in two weeks.
"It was not a good day for us. It was lackluster," said Lehigh head coach Greg Strobel. "I thought we could put a lot of guys up for third. We certainly didn't peak. I am pleased to have seven guys going to the NCAAs. They were the guys I thought we'd take."
Lewis Caputo added a title for Harvard, with a 4-0 win over Antonio Miranda of Navy at 184 pounds. Caputo scored an escape in the second period, a takedown in the third period and earned riding time.
American had a champion at 197 pounds, when No. 2 seed Josh Glenn stopped top-seeded Jerry Rinaldi of Cornell, 6-1. Glenn scored three points in the second period on an escape and a takedown, and clinched the win with a third-period takedown.
Repeat champions from last year were Valenti, Dragon and Glenn. Last year, Glenn won his title at 184 pounds.
For Cornell coach Koll, winning the team title was a bit bittersweet, after watching four of his athletes lose matches in the finals.
"It was a tough finals," said Koll. "Troy getting headlocked, that happens. I was a bit disappointed at 197 pounds. Jerry wrestled well enough to win. One mistake cost him the match. We do have a good tournament team. I am looking forward to getting to Detroit and doing some damage.
Gold medal finals
No. 2 Matt Eveleth (Penn) dec. No. 1 Troy Nickerson (Cornell), 5-3
No. 1 Matt Valenti (Penn) vs. No. 2 Adam Frey (Cornell), 4-0
No. 2 Matt Ciasulli (Lehigh) dec. No. 4 Matthew Kyler (Army), 2-0
No. 1 Jordan Leen (Cornell) dec. No. 2 JP O'Connor (Harvard), 2-1
No. 1 Matt Dragon (Penn) vs. No. 2 John Jarred (Navy), 10-3
No. 3 Steve Anceravage (Cornell) dec. No. 1 Michael Cannon (American), 9-6
No. 1 Matt Stolpinski (Navy) dec. No. 2 Matthew Palmer (Columbia), 7-5, sv
No. 2 Louis Caputo (Harvard) vs. No. 5 Antonio Miranda (Navy), 4-0
No. 1 Jerry Rinaldi (Cornell) vs. No. 2. Josh Glenn (American), 6-1
No. 1 Ed Prendergast (Navy) vs. No. 3 Zach Hammond (Cornell), 10-0
The top four placewinners in each weight class qualified for the NCAA Championships, and seven wildcards were selected by coach, for the 47 conference qualifiers.
Wildcards: Zach Shanaman (Penn, 165), Matt Fisk (Lehigh, 125), Joe Baker (Navy, 133), Rudy Rueda (American, 174), Lior Zamir (Penn, 184), Paul Weibel (Lehigh, 285), David Marble (Bucknell, 133)
Qualifiers, by team:
Cornell (8): Troy Nickerson (125), Adam Frey (133), Jordan Leen (149), Steve Anceravage (165), Joey Hooker (174), Josh Arnone (184), Jerry Rinaldi (197), Zack Hammond (285)
Lehigh (7) - Matt Fisk (125), Seth Ciasulli (133), Matt Ciasulli (141), David Nakasone (157), David Craig (184), Matt Cassidy (197), Paul Weibel (285)
Penn (6) - Matt Eveleth (125), Matt Valenti (133), Matt Dragon (157), Zach Shanaman (165), Matt Herrington (174), Lior Zamir (184)
Navy (6) - Joe Baker (133), John Cox (149), John Jarred (157), Matt Stolpinski (174), Antonio Miranda (184), Ed Prendergast (285)
Columbia (4) - Brandon Kinney (125), Matthew Dunn (149), Devin Mesanko (157), Matt Palmer (174)
Harvard (4) - Robert Preston (133), Max Meltzer (141), JP O'Connor (149), Lewis Caputo (184)
American (4) - Kyle Borschoff (141), Michael Cannon (165), Rudy Rueda (174), Josh Glenn (197),
Army (3) - Fernando Martinez (125), Matt Kyler (141), Nathan Thobaven (285)
Bucknell (3) - David Marble (133), Andrew Rendos (165), Eric Lapotsky (197)
Brown (2) - Shawn Kitchner (165), Levon Mock (285)