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Got Game? CALS Does.

From basketball to hockey to wrestling, CALS scholar–athletes have put the college on the map this winter.

By Ellen Leventry ’95

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is known worldwide for pioneering work in the lab and field. Thanks to strong showings on the hardwood, rink ice, and other surfaces, CALS students are drawing notice for their prowess on the playing fields. Consider the 12 CALS players who helped power Cornell’s Men’s Basketball team to its best–ever NCAA Tournament showing, a Cinderella run into the Sweet Sixteen that captivated college hoops fans around the country. Or the 11 CALS athletes who helped catapult the Women’s Ice Hockey team to a 3–overtime nail–biter second place finish in the finals of the women’s Frozen Four. Or the 21 CALS grapplers who helped the Big Red grab a second place NCAA finish, including an individual championship at 141 pounds for CALS freshman Kyle Dake.

While many media outlets, including the New York Times, trumpeted cager Eitan Chemerinsky’s fluency in three languages, his demanding coursework, and his ability to solve a Rubik’s Cube in under three minutes, all CALS student–athletes are just that: students first and athletes second. Each semester, Cornell Athletics hosts what is known as the “4.0 Breakfast” for players who have earned a 4.0 or higher grade point average. This semester, CALS students make up 22 of the 56 students honored, 11 from the top–ranked Applied Economics and Management (AEM) program alone.

But excellence in the classroom doesn’t preclude excellence on the playing field. All told, eight Cornell winter teams—Men’s Basketball, Women’s and Men’s Ice Hockey, Wrestling, Men’s and Women’s Polo, Women’s Fencing, and Gymnastics—made it to the national stage this winter, be it NCAA tournaments or division equivalents, with CALS players filling out 51% of those rosters.

Men’s Basketball

Jeff Foote
Laura Jacobson/Cornell Athletic Communications

Jeff Foote goes one-on-one with Kansas' Cole Aldrich in the Big Red's 66-71 loss to the #1 ranked Jayhawks on Jan. 6.

The Cinderella season for the Cornell men’s basketball team culminated in an Ivy League–record 29 wins, a third consecutive league championship and an unprecedented run to the NCAA championship’s Sweet 16. CALS senior forward Ryan Wittman, the Ivy League’s all–time leading 3–point shooter, earned an honorable mention to the Associated Press All–American Team and shot his way to the runner–up position in the ESPN 3–Point Shootout. Both Wittman and Jeff Foote, a fellow AEM major, competed in the Reese’s College All–Star Game and were two of 64 players invited to the NBA Pre–Draft Camp.

Womens hockey.
Robert Barker/Univeristy Photography

Sophomore Catherine White deftly maneuvers the puck in the women’s hockey team’s 3–2 overtime victory over Mercyhurst in the national semifinals on March 19 in Minneapolis, Minn.

Women’s Hockey
Capturing their first Ivy League championship in 14 years and their first Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) ever, the women’s icers went on to a triple–overtime second place finish at the NCAA tournament in a season they started as unranked. CALS sophomore Catherine White, the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year, and freshman Lauriane Rougeau earned spots as second-team All-Americans, while freshman Laura Fortino was named the first player in program history to earn first-team All-America honors.

Colin Greening
Patrick Shanahan/Cornell Athletic Communications

Senior Colin Greening skates past North Dakota defenseman Jake Marto in a game at Lynah Rink on Jan. 22, a game the Big Red won, 1–0.

Men’s Hockey
After winning the ECAC regular season and its first ECAC Hockey Tournament title since 2005, the Big Red was handed a first–round NCAA tournament loss by New Hampshire. But three CALS players proved to be season standouts: Colin Greening, recipient of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and recent draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, Blake Gallagher, and Riley Nash each reached the 100 point mark in their careers. Greening was also selected as the ECAC Hockey Student–Athlete of the Year.

Kyle Dake.
Lindsay Mechalik

Freshman Kyle Dake immediately following his championship bout and with his NCAA trophy.

Continuing its Ivy League dominance with its 8th straight Ivy League title, the men’s wrestling team earned a fourth consecutive Eastern championship and a second–place NCAA finish, the best ever for the team. Development Sociology major Kyle Dake took the 141 pound individual title and was named an All–American along with Biology and Society major, and last year’s 125 pound weight class national title holder, Troy Nickerson. Dake was also named InterMat’s Freshman of the Year and the EIWA Freshman of the Year.

Men’s and Women’s Polo
Both the men and women’s polo teams captured the Northeast Regional championship titles, earning spots in the national championship tournament in Charlottesville, Va. While the men fell in the first round to Texas Tech, the women made it to the semifinals where they were defeated by Kentucky 18–12. CALS juniors Max Constant and Lizzie Wisner and senior Erin Bold nabbed top Northeast Regional honors.

Women’s Fencing and Gymnastics
The women’s fencing team placed 14th at the NCAA tournament, ahead of fellow Ivies Yale and Brown. The gymnastics team won its third consecutive Ivy Classic with their best showing ever and took third in the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championship.