The 2008–2009 school year will undoubtedly go down as one of Cornell’s most successful athletic campaigns in its history, thanks to four All-American performances and what may be the Ram’s best basketball team ever.
Led by Iowa Conference Coach of the Year Mike DeGeorge, men’s basketball won its first ever Iowa Conference tournament with a 58–56 victory over Wartburg in a tightly contested championship game. That win qualified the Rams for their first NCAA national tournament appearance since 1994.
The team set a slew of both team and individual records. The Rams went 21–7, a school record for wins, with five of those losses coming against nationally ranked opponents. Senior Griffin LaDew finished with 1,561 career points, 235 3-pointers made, and a career 88 percent free throw percentage, all school records. Junior Chris Handke also set the single-season record for blocks with 45, helping the team set the Ram record for total blocks in a season, with 98.
Wrestlers tasted national success as well. Just a year after graduating a pair of two-time All-Americans, Cornell crowned two more double honorees and anointed another hoping to hit that high next year. Junior Nick Nothern (133 lbs.) improved on a sixth-place finish last year, falling only in the finals in his bid for a national championship.
Senior Kyle Kehrli (174 lbs.) placed fifth, one spot above 2008, and sophomore Kevin Donahue (141 lbs.) finished seventh in his first trip to nationals. With both Nothern and Donahue returning, and a strong team behind them, the Rams are looking toward even more improvement in 2010.
Kehrli (46-6) finished with the most wins in the country at the Division III level. He is Cornell’s all-time leader for wins in a season, and compiled a career record of 114–65, finishing seventh on the school’s career wins list.
Finally, senior Rachel Hawkins became only the third Cornell woman to be named an All-American in indoor track and field with an eighth-place finish in the mile. She finished the race in 5 minutes, 2.81 seconds. Hawkins was also a national meet competitor in cross country. Sophomore thrower Madison Craw also made her national championship debut for indoor track, competing in the shot put.