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Cornell opens season with rout of Penn State Friday Night

ITHACA — Cornell’s powerful lineup lived up to its top-five billing Friday night.

Jordan Leen, the reigning NCAA champion at 157 pounds, recorded an important 4-0 decision over second-ranked Dan Vallimont to help spark the Big Red to a 24-10 victory over Penn State at Newman Arena.

Justin Kerber, ranked 18th at 184, upset No. 13 Phil Bomberger, 6-2, for an important three points that set the tone for Cornell (1-0), which was ranked as high as No. 3 in the preseason polls.

After a year healing up from a shoulder injury, junior Troy Nickerson made a triumphant return to the mat and beat Tim Haas, wrestling up a weight class at 133 and winning 5-2. After losing the opening match at 149, Cornell ripped off six straight victories — including a pin by freshman Cam Simaz at 197.

Penn State‘s Frank Molinaro, who entered the match unranked, upset No. 3 Mike Grey at 141, 8-3. By that point, the Big Red had already secured the team victory.

A near sellout crowd took in the event, in which $5 per person was donated to the Adam Frey cancer fund. Frey, a two-time NCAA qualifier and current junior, is sitting out the 2008-09 season while battling cancer.

Both Penn State and Cornell will compete at this weekend’s Bodybar Invitational, which begins at 9 a.m. today at Newman Arena. Other participating teams include No. 13 Boise State, Army, Buffalo, Drexel, Ithaca College, No. 25 Kent State, Maryland, Millersville and Sacred Heart.

NOTE: A spectator was rushed to the hospital after collapsing at Newman Arena during a wrestling match, Ithaca fire officials said. Ithaca firefighters Bangs Ambulance personnel responded to the report of a man having a heart attack in the arena at about 6:30 p.m., fire and emergency officials said. When they arrived, Cornell emergency medical personnel were already treating the man, who was in his 60s and not local, fire officials said. Bangs Ambulance personnel took the man to Cayuga Medical Center, the officials said. They didn’t disclose his condition.

Ray Drumsta contributed to this story.

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