original photo courtesy of Cam Kramer
This week’s college wrestler of the week, Max Dean of Cornell, earns the honors after going 2-0 last week with both of his wins coming against returning All-Americans. The Big Red took a trip down south to ACC country which set up matches with sixth-ranked Zack Zavatsky (Virginia Tech) on Friday and 15th-ranked Chip Ness (North Carolina). Dean started with an earlier lead on Zavatsky after countering a low single in the first period. Over the next two periods, Max would add two more takedowns, both coming off of the Hokie’s offensive attempts. An escape, a point for stalling, and a riding time point all added up to a 9-0 major decision victory for Dean. Coming into the night, Dean was 0-2 career against Zavatsky after losing to him at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in each of the last two years. In this year’s meeting, Zack was victorious by a 13-6 margin. Max also had a history with his Tar Hall opponent Ness. The two faced off last year in the seventh-place match at the 2018 NCAA Championships, where the unseeded Ness came out on top with a 6-3 decision. The pair also squared off in Vegas this year as well, with Dean getting a measure of revenge with a 10-0 major decision. This time it was the Cornell grappler who got the win again, by the score of 5-2. In this bout, it was Ness who was up 2-0 in the second period after three stalling calls were levied on Dean. Max was able to overcome the deficit with a takedown in the second period and another late in the third, to make the final 5-2.
The pair of wins now brings Dean’s season record to 18-4 and he is currently riding an eight-match winning streak. Right now, Max is ranked 10th in the nation, though that is likely to change after his eventful week. Seventh-ranked Cornell won both of their duals against their top-15 opponents from the ACC, which brings their dual record up to 13-2. On Friday, the Big Red closes out their regular season against #6 Ohio State. That will set up a massive test for Dean, as he would be slated to meet undefeated, top-ranked Myles Martin.