It all seemed so sure.
Harvard was about to take a share of the Ivy League wrestling title for the first time ever.
Then Columbia's Miles Vuklevic pinned himself, and the title was gone.
Thank you, Miles.
Despite the fact that the matmen swept by Yale this weekend, and despite one of their finest seasons in years, the Crimson (13-6 overall and 5-1 in the Ivies) would up second in the standings because of a fluke pin in this--weekend's Columbia Princeton match.
To take a share in its first title in the 29-year history of Ivy League wrestling. Harvard had to defeat Yale, and then count on either Columbia or Cornell to defeat or the Princeton. And the chances of such a combination were not at all unlikely.
Harvard came through and despite a strong effort by the Elis, took Yale 28-18.
Now it was up to Columbia. If the Lions defeated the Tigers, they would tie Harvard and Princeton for a three-way split of the crown.
The match was nip and tuck and by the time Columbia's 177-lb. Miles Vuklevic stepped onto the mat it was clear that one more victory by Columbia would put the Tigers away.
Vuklevic stormed out to a 10-1 lead, and took his Princeton opponent to his back. The move he pulled was one where the man in control is also on his back but is supposed to keep his shoulders up.
Unfortunately, Vuklevic shifted his weight the wrong way, and in an instant it was over.
He had pinned himself.
No title for Columbia and no title for Harvard.
Thank you, Miles.
Princeton then went on to defeat Cornell, and remain alone atop the Ivy League wrestling heap.
Harvard was left in second and also left alone to ponder about its only Ivy loss of the season, a four-point squeaker to Princeton. which, as it turns out, was the deciding match of the season.
Columbia (4-2) finished third and Cornell (3-3) took fourth.
"The Princeton match was the pivitol one," says Kevin McGinty, one of Harvard's 167-lb, sophomores.
Once Harvard lost that match they also lost control of its own destiny, adds John Zilcosky, Harvard's other 167-lb sophomore.
"Finishing second is nice, but its like kissing your sister," said Tri-Captain Sean Wallace, whose personal record now stands at 21-3 on the year.
"It was very disappointing that we win didn't win the Ivies, but its been a good year. We've shown that we could make it in the Ivy League."
The only other seniors not returning are Tri-Captains Barry Bausano (21-3) and Dan Medalie (6-5) who was injured early in the season.
The 5-1 league finish, nonetheless, is great improvement over last year's 3-3 fourth place showing. Moreover, the Crimson defeated Cornell, a team which they have had great difficulty with in recent years. Even though they did not take the title, the matmen were able to take some consolation in beating Yale.
Wins 'were recorded by Mike Meade, Jeff Clark, Pete Holmes, Kevin McGinty, Wallace and Bausano.
"We had a lot of trouble getting up for Yale," recalls Zilcosky. "We were too busy thinking about Princeton."
THE NOTEBOOK: Next weekend, 10 Harvard wrestlers will travel to the Eastern Invitational Tournament at Franklin & Marshall. Any wrestlers who finish in the top three in their weight class in the tourney automatically qualify to wrestle in the national tournament.