FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Cornell's wrestlers will carry momentum into the New Year after a solid runner-up showing at the 12-team Citrus Invitational, held Thursday and Friday in the Sunshine State.
The 21st-ranked Rams advanced seven individuals to the semifinals during a strong opening day. They moved four wrestlers into the finals and crowned one champion in 149-pounder Leonard Bloom (JR/Deerfield, Ill.), who claimed his first tournament title in a Ram singlet.
The Rams totaled 140 points and notched their highest Citrus team finish since winning the event in 2013. Cornell scored 21 more points than No. 4 UW-La Crosse, which took third. No. 8 Augsburg won the team title with 200.5 points while crowning six individual champions.
"Overall, it was a good team performance, but not great," Cornell coach Mike Duroe said. "We didn't wrestle well in the finals and lost to people we should be more competitive against. But for the most part our guys came off the (holiday) break ready to wrestle. This gives us a place to build from. I'm optimistic where we are."
Bloom, who entered the event with a 5-5 season record, doubled his win total with five victories as an unseeded champion in the 149-pound class. The Ram junior beat UW-La Crosse's Mason Geary in the championship bout, 18-11.
Bloom won his first match, 9-4, and then upended 10th-ranked Alex Wilson of Augsburg, 10-5. Bloom received forfeit wins in the quarters and semis, the latter against teammate and top-seeded Aaron Engle (SR/Kansas City, Mo.), who pulled out after winning his first three matches due to injury.
"Lenny was solid and scored a lot of points," Duroe said. "Any time you win a tournament, it's a confidence booster. I think he's in a good place right now."
No. 4 seed Hewson went 4-1 at 165 with two major decisions and a fall. He lost 13-1 in the title bout to Augsburg's Lucas Jeske.
Maksimovic, seeded fourth, earned a pair of technical falls and a pin on his way to the semifinals, where he prevailed 9-8 over UW-La Crosse's Sean O'Neil. Maksimovic lost by fall to Augsburg's Austin Boniface in the finals.
Bergen also performed above his No. 4 seed and finished 3-1. His tournament was highlighted by a 2-0 semifinal decision over Augsburg's top-seeded Sebastian Larson. Bergen dropped a high-scoring 15-12 battle to Martin Strenk of Williams in the championship.
Cornell fielded 11 total placewinners, including fourth-place finishes from Nathan Shank (SR/Iowa City, Iowa) (133) and Nic Jarvis (FR/Iowa City, Iowa) (157). Shank lost 14-2 to fourth-ranked Sam Bennyhoff in the semis. Jarvis was downed 5-0 by Augsburg's Tone Fuenffinger in his semifinal bout.
125 – Gage Griffin (FR/Lake Forest, Ill.) (5th). 133 – Nathan Shank (4th). 149 – Leonard Bloom (1st), Aaron Engle (6th). 157 – Nic Jarvis (4th). 165 – Ben Hewson (2nd). 174 – Michael Maksimovic (2nd), Devin Roettger (FR/Colorado Springs, Colo.) (8th). 184 – James Garrett (SR/Fountain, Colo.) (8th). 197 – Ben Bergen (2nd). 285 – Tyler Ortmann (JR/Forsyth, Ill.) (7th).
Coming up – Cornell starts the 2017 portion of its schedule with five consecutive home events. The New Year begins with the Ram Duals on Jan. 7 with meets against Luther at noon and UW-Stevens Point at 3 p.m.