Rallying to take the final three matches, Harvard's varsity wrestling team defeated a surprisingly strong Columbia squad Saturday in New York, 20-16, to raise its season record to 11-4 before a match tonight at Rutgers.
Rutgers has a stronger team this year than it did last season when the Crimson demolished the Scarlet Knights, 23-15. Harvard is still undefeated in the Ivy League after nipping Columbia, and tonight's meet will offer the Crimson its final match preparation before Saturday's important showdown against reigning Ivy champion Princeton.
Columbia brought an Ivy mark of 0-4 into its match against the Crimson but the Lions were in command until victories by Rich Starr (177 pounds), Dave Scanlon(190 pounds), and heavyweight Tom Tripp wiped out the possibility of an upset. The Crimson's three bout rally at the finish of the match was a duplicate of the heroic performances pulled off by the trio in Harvard's 17-15 upset of Springfield last week.
"It would've been a real disappointment to lose this one," Harvard coach John Lee said after the tight finish. The Crimson again showed its strength in the heavier weight classes as it made a sensational comeback after falling behind, 13-0, after three bouts.
At 142 pounds, Jon Peters improved his season record to 8-4-2, as he decisioned Colin Petz, 9-2. Unfortunately, Peters's victory may have been costly for Harvard in the long run. "Peters did a great job but he really hurt his ribs and may be out for the season," Lee said.
Captain Pat Coleman received a forfeit at 150 pounds, and Dean Sheppard decisioned the Lions' Bob Pruznick, 5-0, to pull the Crimson within two points, 13-11. Sheppard's victory was his second straight since rejoining the squad after a semester off.
Filling in for regular Mark Faller, who is out with an injured shoulder suffered two weeks ago against Hofstra. Mike Slutzger did an excellent job of staying with the Lions' best individual, Bob Scavage, before dropping the 167-pound bout, 8-2.
At 177 pounds, Starr started the frantic finishing rally by beating his opponent, 6-1. Scanlon put Harvard up by one point with a 7-4 decision at 190 pounds over U.S. Intercollegiate Judo Champion Jorge Gleser. Tripp kept the Crimson on top to stay with a 9-6 win over Tom Schoenfeld, accomplished after Crimson ace had fallen behind early in the second period, 4-1. Harvard won the preliminary freshmen meet, 23-18.