MOUNT VERNON – Cornell's younger wrestlers gained experience against top competition – including several Division I individuals – at Saturday's non-scored Flash Flanagan Open hosted by Loras College.
Cornell's 10-man traveling squad featured nine freshmen, led by a pair of placewinners in Aburough Abegesah (fourth at 184 pounds) and Todd Murakawa (sixth at 141). Coach Mike Duroe held back most of his regular starters.
"We wanted to give guys that needed matches an opportunity to compete in a very competitive meet. All but two of the finalists were Division I guys," Duroe said. "Aburough and Todd represented themselves well to finish in the top six."
Abegesah (8-9) recorded two major decisions and finished his day 2-2. He scored a 17-4 quarterfinal win before falling 16-7 in the semifinals to eventual champion Brett Pfarr of Minnesota. Abegesah posted an 11-3 consolation victory over Luther's Micah Ballew. He then lost 9-0 in the third-place match to Richard Carlson of UW-La Crosse.
Murakawa (6-11) collected a team-high three wins on the day, including back-to-back pins in the consolation round. He beat freshman teammate Samuel Chalkley, 5-2, in the consolation quarterfinals. Murakawa dropped a 9-0 major decision to Northern Illinois' Gabe Morse in the fifth-place match.
Chalkley came away with a 2-2 record at 141. He registered a second-period pin and an 11-9 overtime decision, both on the consolation side.
Coming up – The Rams host the annual Matman Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 in the Small Multi-Sport Center Arena. The 10-team field includes six nationally-ranked teams in No. 1 Wartburg, No. 6 UW-La Crosse, No. 8 Coe, No. 11 Concordia (Minn.), No. 13 Luther and No. 18 Cornell. Loras, Simpson, UW-Eau Claire and Lakeland are also scheduled to compete.
For many of Cornell's wrestlers, it will be the first competition since the Dec. 29-30 Citrus Open in Fort Lauderdale by the Sea, Fla., where the Rams placed third out of 12 teams.
"Our guys should be real hungry to get into competition," Duroe said. "We've had a real good training phase. I look forward to see how they perform. The Matman is going to be another solid tournament."
Cornell finished runner-up at the 2012 Matman, won by Coe. The Rams crowned three individual champions, led by Most Outstanding Wrestler Timothy Hood at 125.