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This week in 1953, Cornell wrestling took five athletes to the NCAA tournament at Penn State. Facing 200 athletes from across the country, the team placed its bets on senior co-captains Frank Bettucci and Don Dickason to place high in the standings. Both had won individual championships in the Eastern Intercollegiate tournament at Princeton, and looked to prove themselves again in the national arena.
While the co-captains had talent, they faced strong opposition in their respective weight classes with Bettucci expected to face a runner-up in the 1952 Olympics and Dickason to face the defending national champion.
Luckily, as it did for Cornell this year in 2018, the tournament went surprisingly well for Cornell. Both Bettucci and Dickason won the national titles in their respective weight classes, bringing home two national championships for Cornell. Overall, Cornell placed third in team scores. In addition, Frank Bettucci was awarded “Outstanding Wrestler” at the tournament.
Bettucci won the final Olympic Trials in 1956, but an injury kept him from participating in the actual games. An Ithaca native, he would later be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.