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March Madness

With the men's hockey team lacing up to sweep Quinnipiac tonight, the lacrosse team playing in a nationally televised game against Virginia on ESPNU (of which the Red are winning 5-4 at the half), and the women's hockey team currently beating Dartmouth 4-1 in the first round of the NCAAs, it's a classic Big Red March Madness weekend (sans basketball team, of course, as Elie presciently predicted).

Of course, who could forget about the wrestling team? Longtime MetaEzra reader GK writes in to set the stage for how this could be the year they finally win it all:

Avenging an upset loss to Lehigh back in January, the Big Red wrestling team showed they are the class of the east with a dominating EIWA championship performance over last weekend. They easily beat second place Lehigh 173-119 and put six of their ten wrestlers into the finals, with four winning. Even better, as a result of the tournament, at least eight, and possibly all ten of the big ten wrestlers will move on the NCAA championships. Winning the EIWAs is an accomplishment in its own right, and something Cornell rarely accomplished in wrestling save for the past 5 seasons.

What is remarkable has been the growth of the program over the past decade. Boosted by the generous support of alumni, the construction of the Friedman Wrestling Center, and the excellent leadership of Rob Koll, Cornell wrestling has evolved from an also-ran Ivy League wrestling program to one of the elite programs nationwide. Between 1994 and 2001, the program had one single all-American. Since 2002, they have had thirty-two, in addition to five NCAA champions. Now they stand on the precipice of the ultimate prize of them all, a team NCAA championship.

Looking ahead to the NCAA championship meet taking place over the weekend of March 17-19, Cornell will be the favorite to take home their first NCAA wrestling title and the first for a school from the east since 1953. All eyes in the wrestling world will be on Philadelphia, PA for the three-day meet, and the big story will be the Big Redís pursuit of the title. In all likelihood, the team title will be a closely contested affair between Cornell, defending NCAA champion Iowa, and Big Ten 2011Champion Penn State. Iowa and Cornell going head-to-head will be an epic battle between the historically dominant Hawkeyes and the emerging Big Red. As is usually the case, the meet will come down to a few matches that swing one way or another, so Rob Kollís men will have to bring their A game.

I highly encourage those in the Philadelphia area consider attending the meet in person. For the rest of us, the meet will be televised on the ESPN family of networks with the finals live on ESPN on March 19 at 7:30PM. Those without any wrestling knowledge might need a short primer, but once the basic rules are understood it is an exciting sport to watch. If things go well, Cornell might pick up its first NCAA team championship since 1971. If they donít, there is always the womanís hockey team and the NCAA womanís hockey final scheduled for the 20th. Go Big Red!

Let's Go Red!

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on March 12, 2011 (#)

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