It could easily have been a romp. It wasn't, however, and the Harvard wrestling team needed clutch wins by Tony Rayner and Dave Scanlon to pull out a 23-15 match victory over Rutgers last night in the IAB.
"It's nice to win when we've lost so many," Crimson coach John Lee said. "but we certainly could have beaten them by a little more."
The victory came on the heels of a 24-13 drubbing of Columbia Saturday afternoon, and set the stage for a crucial Ivy League confrontation this Saturday at Princeton.
After Mark Faller was tied at 167 by the Knights' Don Brandenburg, the Harvard lead shrunk to only two points, 15-13. But Rayner and Scanlon came through in tight bouts, 4-3 and 6-4, to insure a Crimson triumph.
Faller, who entered the match with a spotless 12-0 record, jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Brandenburg scored a reverse and an escape to go ahead 3-2. Faller escaped early in the final period to even the score, but he could not get the winning takedown.
"Mark just outsmarted himself," Lee said. "You've got to shoot a lot against a guy like Brandenbure, and Mark waited too long to move."
Rayner (177) and Scanlon (190), both led throughout their bouts, but had to stave off late charges by Rutgers' Terry Murphy and Bob Dunbar.
Lee had nothing but praise for Rayner. "He did a pretty decent job tonight. In fact, he saved the match for us," he said.
Rick Battle at 142 and Dean Sheppard at 130 also performed well for Harvard. Battle ruined Rutgers coach Richard Voliva's trickery when he pinned the Knights' Frank Mollo at 7:41 of their bout.
In what was surely a frustrating experience for Harvard captain Paul Catinella, who made weight at 134 for the first time this season on Tuesday, Voliva forfeited to Catinella at 134 and moved Mollo up to 142 against Battle.
Battle usually wrestles at 134 and was only filling in at 142 until Pat Coleman's return Saturday.
Sheppard downed Floyd Withers, 5-3, for his second consecutive win. Sheppard got a pin against Columbia Saturday to establish himself at 150.