Cam Simaz's decision was made when he stepped on the mat Jan. 8.

The Cornell University senior 197-pounder suffered a severe left hamstring pull during the Body Bar Invitational in November, and spent the next month rehabbing the injury.

Simaz could have shut down his season, red-shirted, and came back next year healthy to try and win a elusive national championship, both for himself and his team.

That decision needed to be made before Cornell and Lehigh wrestled Jan. 8 at Newman Arena.

“I talked to the coaches,my family and our trainer, and he (Cornell trainer Chris Scarlatta) was straight forward with me,” said Simaz, a three-time state champion for Allegan High School. “He said how I recover will tell us a lot. If I get back and feel great then I would be good to go. I trained as hard as I could with Chris, he told me to go as hard as I could, and if I tweaked it we would call it a year. I made it through without tweaking it too bad.”

So Simaz stepped on the mat against Lehigh's Kadeem Samuels, and he beat him 10-2 to improve his record to 13-2 this year.

Simaz, a three-time All American for the Big Red, including a pair of third-place finishes the past two seasons, is still the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class, even with the injury.

“Honestly, the hamstring felt fine,” Simaz said. “He wrestled me well, but I wasn't satisfied with the way I wrestled, 10 points wasn't enough. But the hamstring was fine.”

Now Simaz, who does not have the opportunity to red-shirt, looks forward to winning that national championship in March in St. Louis.

“I'm going for it now,” Simaz said. “My opportunity is now gone to red-shirt, so we're going to go for it and hope to win a a national title.”

And if the hamstring acts up and prevents that.

“In this sport you don't have a lot room to worry about that it,” Simaz said. “If you do that, you are not doing what should, going hard. I don't want to worry about this being my last year and getting hurt because there is life after wrestling.

“At this point, more than anything in the world I want to win that title,” he added. “But I need to keep that in perspective.”

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