Special cause surrounds rivalry dual between Cornell and Coe

Support continues for Rams Coach Mike Duroe and his battle with cancer

MOUNT VERNON — Sometimes sports don't take precedence, even during competition.

Make no mistake that the competition is important whenever Coe and Cornell face each other, but this time was a little different.

Five years ago, the dual served as a springboard for a notable cause. Takedown Cancer Clinic was started to raise awareness and funds in the battle against the deadly disease.

Cornell Coach Mike Duroe was a key part of its inception and this year he was at the center of the effort. Duroe was diagnosed with glioblastoma in the fall and continues to fight the brain tumor.

Many people turned out to support the cause and watched seventh-ranked Coe post a dominant 32-6 victory over the Rams, winning eight of 10 matches at the Small Multi-Sport Center.

The night was much more than just a simple rivalry dual.

“It was a nice night and turnout,” Coe Coach John Oostendorp said. “It really puts things in perspective. Sometimes we get caught up in our own little world about winning and losing a wrestling match. There are more important things out there than that.”

The night even had a “pass the hat” campaign. Cornell wrestlers took to the stands and raised almost $760 in 47 seconds, which represents how often someone in the United States is diagnosed with cancer.

Duroe has remained active coaching the Rams during his treatment. He could be heard yelling instructions from the bench, rose to his feet during one of the Rams' wins and even stepped to matside to offer encouragement.

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After the dual, Duroe visited with numerous people. Some came from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where he coached at Northern Michigan. Some came from Chicago. Cornell assistant Brent Hamm said he has received countless emails and regular visitors to show support and talk to Duroe.

“There’s unlimited support for him and there always has been, too,” Hamm said. “This is kind of an average night of the love he gets.

“It shows it’s bigger than wrestling. It’s life.”

Senior Phil Opelt provided one of the highlights on the mat for the Rams (5-8). In just his 11th match this season, he posted an 8-6 victory over Josh Gerke at 149 pounds. Opelt caused Duroe to stand, getting a crucial second period takedown.

“It was nice to have this night for Duroe,” Opelt said. “It’s a good night for him. It’s awesome having him around.

“You look over to the side and see him there. He’s always motivation to me.”

Duroe said the Rams “aren’t waving the white flag” yet and the Rams will keep working and preparing for the upcoming regional tournament. He still has the fire, which is demonstrated in the practice room daily.

“He’s still got it,” Opelt said. “He’s still a beast.”

Coe rolled, receiving two forfeits early, including at 141 due to top-ranked Josh Martin not making weight.

Fifth-ranked Jake Voss was impressive with a 16-1 first-period technical fall over John Marsh, giving Coe a 26-3 lead. His win came after Bryce Scott’s 9-5 win over Ben Hewson, scoring a four-point tilt and takedown in the third to avenge an earlier loss.

Fletcher Green (133), fifth-ranked Cole Erickson (157), 184-pounder Taylor Mehmen and Andrew Holladay at 197 added decisions for the Kohawks (12-6).

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“I felt good,” Oostendorp said. “I felt they fought in the third period. We got a lot of third-period takedowns and were going forward. That’s what you look for right now and build on.

“I felt good about a lot of guys in the lineup.”

AT MOUNT VERNON: Coe 32, Cornell 6

(Individual takedowns in parentheses)

125 pounds — Brock Henderson (Coe) won by forfeit; 133 — Fletcher Green (Coe) dec. Brody Lamb, 6-1 (2,0); 141 — Brady Ruden (Coe) won by forfeit; 149 — Phillip Opelt (Cor) dec. Josh Gerke, 8-6 (3,2); 157 — Cole Erickson (Coe) dec. Nic Jarvis, 8-3 (3,0); 165 — Bryce Scott (Coe) dec. Ben Hewson, 9-5 (2,1); 174 — Jake Voss (Coe) tech. fall John Marsh, 16-1 (1,0); 184 — Taylor Mehmen (Coe) dec. Bryce Oveson, 4-2 (1,0); 197 — Andrew Holladay (Coe) dec. Kendale McCoy, 11-4 (3,0); Hwt. — Tyler Ortmann (Cor) dec. Brennan Koerperich, 3-2 (1,0).

MEET STATISTICS

Takedowns — Coe 14, Cornell 6. Reversals — Coe 0, Cornell 2. Escapes — Coe 11, Cornell 9. Nearfall points — Coe 20, Cornell 0. Penalty points (awarded) — Coe 0, Cornell 2. Riding time points — Coe 3, Cornell 0. Total match points — Coe 62, Cornell 27.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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