Matmen Ready to Strike
The Strauss that Roared
A casual glance at the scorecard of this past intersession would indicate that all the previous successes of this year's Harvard wrestling team had been a fluke, a mere accident of scheduling. How could a previously undefeated team lose by a score of 36-6? And in their next match, how could they lose to a Wilkes College? Who the hell has ever heard of Wilkes College?
But despite the way it may seem, the Crimson has nothing to be embarassed about: in fact, Harvard coach Johnny Lee was quite pleased with the overall results. You see, the 36-6 loss came at the hands of Nebraska, perennially one of the top teams in the country and rated number nine going into the match against Harvard. And, maybe you have not heard of Wilkes College, but they reign as one of the top teams in the East, ranked 18th nationally going into Sunday's meet.
Unfortunately, Harvard just bit off more than they could chew. The Crimson was forced to go up against Wilkes right after the first string wrestled Nebraska. Although the wrestlers won only two individual matches against the Big Red. the meet was highlighted by some outstanding wrestling by the Harvard team against some of this country's best mat men. Wrestling ranks as one of the top sports at Nebraska. The team members are not renowned for their scholastic achievement, they come to Nebraska to wrestle.
The final score does not indicate the intensity of the individual matches of the meet Co-captain Paul Widerman started the match for the Crimson with a 9-3 decision over Nebraska's Al Lawrence and Fritz Campbell scored a 13-7 win over Lance Milsaps. The Harvard team did not win another match but two matches put the 1200 Harvard wrestling fans on their feet for the first time in years.
Andy McNerney was leading John Selmon, one of the ranking Big Eight wrestlers in his weight class, by a score of 7-1, before falling into a pin in the third period. However, freshman Barry Bausano drew the hardest assignment of the day, facing fourth-ranked Ray Oliver in the 167-lb, weight class. Bausano lost by a 13-11 count, but demonstrated his potential as a wrestler to be reckoned with in the future.
Harvard lost the Wilkes match by the close score of 23-18 in a contest that could have gone either way. The match was so close that a controversial stalling call against Sean Healey in the 158-lb. weight class would have decided the overall score in Harvard's favor. Freshman Bausano and 190-lb. Sean Wallace provided strong wins for their team when the Crimson was down, but the Harvard team could not overtake this strong Eastern power.
So, where does this leave this wrestling team that started the year with such promise? After today's match with Princeton and Boston University, the Crimson will have a pretty good assessment of their standing. Harvard has had real problems beating Princeton in recent years, and Coach Lee looks forward to removing this "albatross" from around the Crimson's neck.
The team has had a few blessings lately as they move toward their biggest Ivy League matches in the next two weeks. While the starters have remained healthy and uninjured. Rick Beller, a stellar performer at 126 lbs, returns to the lineup to shore up the lower weight classes after an injury that has kept him out of competition since before Christmas. With the continuous improvement of freshmen Bausano and Wallace, the present and the future look bright.