In wrestling, inexperience is a handicap. Giving up weight to opponents is a handicap. And when inexperienced wrestlers give up weight to opponents, it frequently means disaster. That's the situation Harvard freshman wrestling coach John Lee '52 is facing.
Lee calls this year's team the "weakest I've ever had." Their 1-2 record will probably get considerably worse before the season ends.
Brightest prospect on the team is Andy Kopecki who is wrestling at 123. With a natural weight of 117, he is outweighed in every match. Next year, however, the Ivies are adding a 115-pound weight class and Kopecki is heir apparent.
Kopecki lost his first two matches, one by decision and one by a fall, but won 3-2 in his only Ivy match. Guy Rowley, at 157, pinned his Penn opponent in the last period to account for the only other Harvard win Saturday as the squad lost 27-3.
Another boy Lee likes to talk about is his captain, Paul Padlack. Padlack wrestled in the 191 slot in the opener against M.I.T. and pinned his opponent in 15 seconds. Against Brandeis Lee put him at 177, and he pinned his man again. Padlack lost a 4-1 decision to Penn's best wrestler at 167, but Lee is still curious what he would be able to do in his real weight class, 157.
The obstacle to putting Padlack at 157 is that there is no one else to wrestle in the higher weights. Lee has four boys he wants to put at 157 and no one for 167, 177, or 191. Padlack being the best of the four, he has had the burden of wrestling the larger opponents.
By the Eastern tournament, however, Padlack could be ready to cause some real trouble. First, he will probably wrestle at 157. Second, he will be in better shape. Personal problems have limited his practice to twice a week to this point, but he plans daily practice after exams.
At 130, Seymour Morris is "a beginner that's working very hard." Vic Pire at 137 should wrestle 130, but there is no one else at 137. At 147 Dave Stern is "inexperienced but willing."
Besides Padlack at 157, Lee has John Adams, John Woodman, and Guy Rowley. He lost a fifth man, Ed Cavin with a cracked sternum. Now he has to juggle the remaining four between 157 and 191. Obviously, whoever wrestles 191 is badly outsized.
Cavin was 1-1 before his injury. Rowley took over for him against Penn and pinned his man to account for five of the eight Harvard points. The others all lost at the higher weights. It looks like a long season.
The only heavyweight on the squad is Bill Schwalm. He got a late start because of football, and Lee calls him "inexperienced." In his only match to date, against Penn, he was pinned in the first period.
The day before the Columbia match the Crimson travels to Rutgers. Harvard has never wrestled Rutgers before. They give four wrestling scholarships a year according to Lee. "Lots of them flunk out," he says, "but never before the end of freshman year."