Wrestling Hosts Two Key Ivy Matchups This Weekend
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin

NEW YORK - The Columbia wrestling team has a big weekend ahead of them, with two key Ivy League matchups against Princeton and #19 Penn.  The Lions will square off against the Tigers at the historic New York Athletic Club on Friday, February 11 at 6:30 p.m., and will close out the home portion of its schedule on Saturday when they host the Quakers in University Gymnasium at 3 p.m.

This weekend will also serve as the program's homecoming weekend, as David and Michael Barry will be honored following the match on Friday night for their recent commitment to endow an assistant coaching position. The 1961 Ivy League championship team will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of its championship following the match on Saturday.

Check back to gocolumbialions.com on Friday and Saturday for the live blogs! Fans will be able to write in with questions and follow along as the matches against Princeton and Penn are underway.

Heavyweight Kevin Lester has been the definition of a leader for the Lions this season. The junior co-captain paces the team with a 19-6 record, including six wins by fall. He is 8-3 in dual action, and recently picked up the lone win for the Lions against top-ranked Cornell. Lester is ranked No. 20 nationally by Amateur Wrestling News and has won his last 11 bouts.

Friday night's match against the Tigers will take place at the historic New York Athletic Club.  The club is located is located at 180 Central Park South. Spectators may enter the club at 58th Street and 7th Ave.

Princeton enters the weekend 4-9 overall and 1-2 in the Ivy League. Last weekend, the Tigers lost to Harvard (21-15) and Penn (37-10), but came from behind to beat Brown, 21-16.  Sophomore 125-pounder Garrett Frey is ranked No. 18 nationally and leads his team this season with a 23-6 record.

The Quakers are ranked No. 19 by Intermat in the latest poll, and feature a lineup that includes five ranked grapplers: No. 17 Mark Rappo (125), No. 5 Rollie Peterkin (133), No. 10 Zack Kemmerer (141), No. 18 Gabriel Burak (165) and No. 5 Micah Burak (197).  Penn is 9-4 overall and 3-0 in the Ivy League entering the weekend. The team will face No. 1 Cornell on Friday night before traveling to Morningside Heights for the Saturday dual.

Columbia University has announced that David Barry '87CC and Michael Barry '89CC have generously committed to establishing a new endowment in support of an Assistant Wrestling Coach Position. This endowment will add significant stature to the wrestling program and will allow it to retain and recruit assistant coaches of the highest caliber which will pay tremendous benefits for the student-athletes in the wrestling program. The Barrys will be honored at a reception in the New York Athletic Club following the team's match against Princeton.

Fifty years ago, the 1961 team turned the Ivy League wrestling world upside down when it finished 6-0 en route to its first Ivy League crown.  Predicted by many to finish at the bottom of the pack, the Lions forged on under first-year head coach Stan Thornton to snap Cornell's 28-match win streak in a dramatic 17-12 come from behind victory to win the Ivy championship.  The team will be honored prior to the match on Saturday against the Quakers, with a reception following the match.

Saturday's match is designated as Student Rewards Program Day.  The first 50 students get a free t-shirt and all students get credit for prizes at the end of the year.

Columbia (6-5, 0-1 Ivy) will hit the road for a pair of important Ivy League matches to close out the regular portion of the season. The Lions will face Harvard on February 18 in Cambridge, Mass. at 7 p.m., before traveling to Providence, R.I. the following day for a dual against Brown at 2 p.m.