THE SPORTING SCENE
An Ivy Wrestling Tournament?
A brace of Eastern colleges with exceptional wrestling teams have taken on the affectionate nickname of the "Monster League"--whenever Harvard or almost any other Ivy League school runs into one of them in a match, the Ivy Leaguers get swallowed, practically in one gulp.
Last year, for instance, the best Harvard wrestling team in a decade traveled to the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Tournament to face the monster powers--Lehigh, Pitt, Penn State, Syracuse, Army, and Navy--and won just three matches in the entire tournament. And two of these three were against other Ivy Schools.
This year's Harvard team had almost as good a record, and came away with even worse results -- they scored as many as three wins only because a Syracuse wrestler facing Ben Brooks in a first-round match helpfully sprained his ankle and had to default.
One of the other two wins came against a Columbia wrestler and the third was Fred Pereira's 10-7 win over an opponent from Rutgers--a college of near-monster proportions.
Thus in two years, Harvard wrestling teams have compiled a total of two decisions over opponents from outside the Ivy League. It's easy to see why.
Wrestling tournaments are exciting, and they can be fun, for both spectators and wrestlers. But they aren't much fun if no one on a team is in contention after the first round or two. Perhaps the answer, for the downtrodden Ivies, would lie in a league tournament of their own.
There are a couple of obvious objections to such a tournament and the principal one is named Cornell. The Big Red, unlike their Ivy brethren, have been a perennial contender for the Eastern title. Their wrestling program, the best in the League every year since its founding, has attracted innumerable champions to Ithaca, and the college would be understandably reluctant to withdraw from the tournament.
Reasons of Pride
Then too, there are reasons of pride. Harvard rarely gets wrestlers of championship calibre, but when a top-flight competitor comes along, no one would want to deny him a chance to enter the Easterns. A few Ivy wrestlers do take places--two Penn wrestlers scored this year, and Yale's Will Elting took a surprise third place.
Perhaps the final solution would be an eight-team Ivy League tournament (including Dartmouth, which currently fields a team but does not wrestle in Ivy competition) with the top two place-winners in each weight class going on to the Easterns. This would permit the championship-class wrestlers to take their chances against the monsters, and more importantly, the Ivy League teams could enter a post-season competition against opponents of their own calibre.