After coming out with double wins last weekend against Hofstra and Ivy competitor Columbia, the Red is preparing for this upcoming weekend and the last home match of the season against Bucknell for senior night. Not only is it the last time that the Cornell wrestlers will hit the mat of Friedman for competition this semester, it is also the last time that the eight seniors will compete at home in their college wrestling careers. Senior co-captains Kyle Dake, Steve Bosak and Joe Stanzione, along with seniors Cody Hutcheson, Pete Mesko, Oney Snyder, Lukasz Stala and Patrick Sullivan will end their time competing on the Hill this Sunday.
The seniors have been dominant forces for the Cornell team this season and for their past three years competing in red singlets.
According to head coach Rob Koll, Cornell University will not only lose some of the best athletes that the school has ever seen, but also excellent students and great guys.
Senior co-captain Kyle Dake has changed the face of Cornell wrestling and propelled the program to become one of the best in the nation. Not only has Dake been a leading voice on the team as captain this season, he is also a three-time national champion to boot. This year Dake is competing for a national title to become the first wrestler to win four titles in four different weight classes.
“Kyle has defined Cornell wrestling over the last four years. He has helped raise our [program’s] prominence not just locally, but nationally. He has made Cornell the hot school when it comes to high school wrestlers,” Koll said. “He’s a big personality … And will continue to be the face of Cornell wrestling even upon his graduation.”
Dake has also racked up many other titles in his four years on the Hill such as All-American for the past three years, EIWA Champion in 2010 and 2012, EIWA Wrestler of the Year in 2011 and 2012, First-Team All-Ivy in 2010 and 2011 and Ivy League Rookie of the Year in his freshman campaign.
After Redshirting, Senior co-captain Steve Bosak joined the team for another year and has brought dominance in the 184 pound weight class. Not to be outshined by Dake, Bosak won a NCAA Tournament champion title in 2012 along with being honored as a NCAA All-American in 2011 and 2012, an EIWA Finalist in 2011 and 2012 and Second-Team All-Ivy in 2010.
“Steve came to Cornell, not like some of our all-time greats. He was not heavily recruited by the [traditional] wrestling powerhouses. I am glad that he wasn’t. It came down to Cornell or Brown [for him] … He was actually committed to Brown and thank God I was able to show the errors of his ways and convince him that Cornell is a better choice for him,” Koll said. “We recruited him as a 157 pounder and now he is wrestling at 184 … He’s a student of the sport … He is the type of student that Cornell is all about.”
Despite not being a traditional starter this season the third co-captain Joe Stanzione has been an integral part of the team in terms of dynamics and mental attitude. Last season, Stanzione earned a 23-9 record in his junior season with 13 bonus wins, including eight by fall.
Highlights of his career have included a fifth-place finish at 141 pounds at the Body Bar Invitational and a sixth-place finish at the Mat Town Open. Stanzione also earned third-place at the New York State Intercollegiate Championships.
“You don’t know how much I respect Joe. Even though he’s not a starter, he’s a captain this year. I have never in 24 years, had someone who was not a starter, serve as a captain, but that’s how I look at him and his teammates look at him,” Koll said. “He’s a team player and has also been in the lineup and had a few varsity experiences.”
Senior Cody Hutcheson also epitomizes the “typical” Cornell athlete, according to Koll.
“Cody Hutcheson is a Cornell engineer. Anybody in the engineering department will tell you that it is demanding to be an engineer and a varsity athlete. On top of that, he has a couple of injuries that have probably stopped him from reaching his full potential,” Koll said.
Highlights of Hutcheson’s career include his two wins last year at the Binghamton Open and Body Bar Invitational.
“Whenever we need [Cody], he is always there for us … He is a just a wonderful young man to have in our program,” Koll said.
Although falling to a serious shoulder injury, senior Pete Mesko has rallied in the past season to come back from a serious setback. Mesko went 4-1 at the New York State Intercollegiate Tournament to come in third last season and made guest appearances in duals such as the Body Bar Invitational and the Binghamton Open.
“Pete Mesko has had injury problems and injured his shoulder pretty badly [but now] any time that you need someone to work out, Peter is there to answer the call,” Koll said.
Senior Oney Snyder has also been a big presence for the Red as a heavyweight. Snyder totaled nine wins in his fourth season with Cornell and came in fifth at the Mat Town Open.
“Oney, has wrestled varsity on and off for the last four years ... He is a great kid,” Koll said. “It is wonderful to have a heavyweight that is committed to his teammates like Oney.”
At 197 pounds, senior Lukasz Stala has seen a bit of action in his time with the Red. Stala compiled a 17-13 record in his third season (2011-2012) with Cornell. He placed third at the Mat Town Open at 197 pounds and took fourth at the New York State Intercollegiate Tournament. He also wrestled for Cornell at the Binghamton Open, Body Bar Invitational, Las Vegas Invitational, Southern Scuffle and Edinboro Open.
“He has been in and out of the lineup for his entire career. He went from 197 to heavyweight … He has gotten multiple job offers, studied overseas, had a bunch of internships,” Koll said. “He is the kind of guy that when we bring recruits, we use him as the example that you can truly have the best of both worlds. He has really experienced what Cornell has to offer.”
Senior Patrick Sullivan walked on to the team during his freshman year and according to Koll, put in hard work and gave Cornell wrestling his all. Although he did not get much time on the mat for the Red in large competitions, Sullivan consistently wrestled at the Binghamton Open in his time on the Hill.
“Patrick came as a walk-on freshman year. I am hesitant to have a lot of walk-ons because they tend to walk off,” Koll said. “I tried to discourage him for the first year, but all he did was work harder. He has earned a lot of respect. Pat has just been a wonderful addition to the program.”
With the graduation of eight seniors, the Red will have to fill its roster next season with new talent from the incoming freshmen and hopefully, as Koll said, “There are some national champions already in the room.”