After plowing through the competition at the Cliff Keen Invitational to get to the quarterfinals, Harvard senior heavyweight Jonas Corl found himself in a precarious position in Sin City: up a lot with the odds stacked against him.
In an intense quarterfinal match, Corl stepped onto the mat with No. 4 Greg Wagner of Michigan. His strong run—the best among the Crimson wrestlers present—ended with a 9-3 decision.
But unlike the people at the tables in Las Vegas, Corl’s success had nothing to do with luck. The only reason he was able to make it to the upper echelons of the tournament was because of his powerful offensive play.
“His mat wrestling and top work allowed him to score lots of points without exerting lots of energy,” captain Mike Baria said. “His opponents just couldn’t catch up.”
To advance to the quarterfinals, Corl overwhelmed Cal State-Bakersfield’s Eric Parker, winning by a score of 18-1. The win followed a strong 11-2 win over Levon Mock of Brown.
Corl noted that while he was able to pinpoint his offensive strength, “we have a lot to work on still,” namely defense.
Sophomore Robbie Preston also had a strong showing for Harvard in the 125-lb. bracket, winning his first four matches by huge margins before losing by just two points to No. 13 Jeremy Mendoza from Arizona State, 7-5.
Preston steamrolled over his first competitor on the day, Edinboro’s Eric Sill, racking up 17 points and holding Sill to just two.
Preston earned nine points in each of his two victories over Dave Tomasette of Hofstra and Dave Morgan of Pittsburgh. Tomasette and Morgan were only able to score one and two points on Preston, respectively. Missouri’s Austin DeVoe also fell to Preston early, losing by a 7-2 decision.
Preston, who outscored his first four opponents 42-7, proved that, like Corl, he has powerful offensive skills.
“He’s got a lot of offensive moves that put him up,” Baria said. “He can take his opponents and drop them right on their backs.”
Baria (141 lbs.) started the day with a 12-2 win over Chris Nissen from the Air Force Academy. In his next match, Baria was bested by Garret Spooner of Fresno State. Spooner pinned Baria in just 58 seconds.
With a 6-0 decision over Buffalo’s Dang Gingerich, Baria almost found another route to play further. But the path was blocked by Frank Edgar of Clarion, who defeated Baria in his next match with a score of 7-2.
Like his teammates, Baria’s offense enabled him to top his opponents.
“My offense has come a long ways, and I can be more selective,” Baria said. “But I was weak on defense and couldn’t stop [my opponents] when they were attacking me.”
Freshman Dominic DeNunzio (149 lbs.) secured a win over Robert Henry of North Dakota with an 8-4 decision before Arizona State’s Patrick Williams pinned him in 2:53.
Success continued to evade sophomore Brent Kakesako in the 133-lb. bracket. Kakesako was pinned twice, once at the hands of North Carolina’s Jeff Breese in 2:33 and once by Ryan Synhorst of Dickinson State in 3:04.
Nate Picarsic, the Crimson’s 165-lb. wrestler, was also pinned twice. Picarsic lost to Mark Reavely of Northern Colorado in 5:28 and to Jacob Klein of Nebraska in 3:40.
Freshman Matthew Button (157 lbs.) was also unable to secure a win, losing his first match 16-0 to Keith Gavin of Pittsburgh. Cooper Fouch from UC Davis pinned Button in his second match in 4:31.
Freshman Jonathan Butler met a similar fate in the 174-lb. bracket, losing to Chris Goings of Clarion by a 7-2 decision and pinned by Columbia’s Sven Hafemeister in 4:35.
“We have a good idea of where we are at,” Corl said. “We know our strengths and that will reinforce our confidence.”
—Staff writer Megha Parekh can be reached at email@example.com.