MOUNT VERNON – A 54-degree November night turned out to be just right for wrestling as Cornell pulled off its first-ever outdoor dual meet before more than 700 fans at Ash Park Stadium.
The No. 11 nationally-ranked Rams treated the home crowd to a 27-15 season-opening victory over Simpson in Thursday’s historic event held on Cornell’s football field.
Condensation on the mat at the start of the 6:30 p.m. dual nearly forced the meet to be moved indoors. Heaters and fans were brought in to dry the surface, and the competition went on as planned.
“It was touch and go there for a while,” Cornell head coach Mike Duroe said. “The mat cleared up and it ended up being a good event. The meet was well attended. It was a good atmosphere.”
The Rams (1-0) won six of the 10 contested bouts and pulled away midway through the dual for their 13th consecutive series victory over the Storm.
History was also made on the sideline as Duroe became the winningest coach in program history, improving his career record to 131-86-2 in his 12th season on the Hilltop. Duroe passed Hall of Famer Steve DeVries (1982-2000) on Cornell’s all-time wins list.
The teams split the first four matches, with the Storm (0-1) earning a pin at 149 pounds to take a 9-8 advantage. The Rams regained the lead before intermission with a hard-fought 3-2 decision from eighth-ranked Aaron Engle(SR/Kansas City, Mo.) over Jason Clark at 157.
The Rams took control after the break, recording bonus points in the next three matches to seal the dual. Cornell 165-pounder Ben Hewson (SO/Loveland, Colo.) pinned Austin Stotts in 3:53. Michael Maksimovic (SR/Northbrook, Ill.) then scored eight takedowns in his 18-8 major decision over Jake Mize at 174.
Brian Cristion (SR/Port Angeles, Wash.) capped the run with a quick pin in 2:05 over RJ Brown at 184, giving the Rams a comfortable 27-9 cushion.
“Overall, we competed hard,” Duroe said. “We didn’t come out in every match as hard as I would have liked, but it’s early in the year. That’s something we will work on, getting better at setting the tone in matches.”
The Storm took the opening match with Clayton Fenzl’s 10-7 win over Ram newcomer Gage Griffin (FR/Lake Forest, Ill.). Cornell answered with a 23-3 technical fall from 133-pounder Brody Lamb (SO/Smithville, Mo.). Cornell’s eighth-ranked Josh Martin (JR/Lombard, Ill.) posted an 11-6 decision over Zach Johnston at 141.
The Rams held a 19-8 advantage in total takedowns. They finished the night with 14 near-fall points, to Simpson’s four.
Coming up – The Rams compete at the Luther Open Nov. 12 in Decorah.
125 — Clayton Fenzl (SIM) dec. Gage Griffin, 10-7
133 — Brody Lamb (COR) tech. fall Jacob Irwin, 23-3 (7:00)
141 — #8 Josh Martin (COR) dec. Zach Johnston, 11-6
149 — Jason Kiehne (SIM) pinned Jake Allen, 2:54
157 — #8 Aaron Engle (COR) dec. Jason Clark, 3-2
165 — Ben Hewson (COR) pinned Austin Stotts, 3:53
174 — Michael Maksimovic (COR) major dec. Jake Mize, 18-8
184 — Brian Cristion (COR) pinned RJ Brown, 2:05
197 — DeVaughn Scott (SIM) dec. Ben Bergen, 4-2
285 — Colby Vlieger (SIM) dec. Tyler Ortmann, 3-2
Rankings are NWCA
Exhibition: 184 — Damon Piatt (SIM) dec. James Garrett, 10-7