The Harvard wrestling team will open its winter season against Rutgers on Saturday. Although Rutgers always has a strong team, the toughest part of the upcoming contest for most of the Crimson grapplers is foregoing Turkey Day dinner in order to make weight.
Head coach John Lee is optimistic about the Crimson chances for winning the Ivy League crown. Last year, the Crimson finished fifth, behind defending champion Yale, Princeton, Penn and Cornell.
"Up to this season, we had come off two straight years with only one senior returning," Lee said yesterday, "but this year we have a lot of experience."
Returning letterman Mitch Silverman has a muscle bruise on his back, so backup Dave Albert will wrestle at 118 pounds on Saturday. Milt Yasunga, another veteran, mans the 126-pound position, while freshman Bob Cusumano, a former New Jersey high school champion, will take the 134-pound slot.
The Crimson's Ivy hopes were dealt a blow when 142-pounder George Baker decided to leave college. To compensate for the void, Lee moved senior captain Carl Biello up from 134 pounds to the 142 slot. There must be a jinx at this position, as BIello suffered a freak injury and will be out for two weeks. Ty Richardson '76, normally a 134-pounder, will hold the 142 slot while Biello recovers.
Senior Mike Dee will be at 150 pounds and Lee said "He's looking really good." Three freshmen competed for the 158 pound slot with Jim Corcoran taking the honors. At 167 pounds, four-year letterman and last year's All-Ivy selection Bruce Johnson will be counted on for crucial match points.
A November wedding will keep 177-pound Jim Strathmeyer from Saturday's clash, but two-year veteran John Keough will cover the vacancy. Veterans Bart Vandissell and Steve Barrett are still battling for the 190-pound position.
Rounding up the Crimson roster in the heavyweight class is 250-pound grappler Kip Smith. "Kip has built up his strength over the off-season, and he should have a good year," Lee said.
"Rutgers will be a real test match," captain Biello said. "It will be the first test for a lot of our guys." He added, "We'll do good if we can beat the jitters."