So much for getting the new semester off to a good start.
For the Harvard wrestling team the first weekend of the spring semester was one it would like to forget. Harvard 3 Penn 34 Harvard 10 Rutgers 28 Harvard 15 Princeton 22
Harvard faced off against Pennsylvania and Rutgers Friday and Princeton Saturday and had its back on the mat in all three--losing 34-3 to Penn, 28-10 to Rutgers and 22-15 to Princeton.
Coming out of its two-week exam-period hiatus, the Crimson found itself locking arms with the defending Ivy League champion Quakers at Philadelphia--not exactly the ideal way to kick off a two-day road trip.
Harvard came into its Ivy League opener with very little chance of leaving the mats with a victory--especially with various injuries forcing it to forfeit the 177-pound bout.
"We weren't expecting much," Coach Jay Weiss said. "We were pretty banged up. It's hard to forfeit anything against Penn."
The Quakers took advantage of the Crimson's injury woes and an uncharacteristically sluggish star by Harvard and dominated the contest from the opening bout.
"It was our first time wrestling after finals," Weiss said. "But I thought we were going to do better. We just didn't come out to wrestle."
Freshman Dustin DeNunzio, wrestling at 126 pounds, notched the only points for the Crimson with a double-overtime win--his second overtime win of the season against the Quaker opponent.
The grapplers fared little better later Friday against a strong Rutgers squad, winning only two of the ten bouts.
"Team-wise we weren't expecting to win," Weiss said. "We were expecting more individually, however, and that was disappointing."
Junior Steve Gerstung pinned his opponent in the 158-pound division, and DeNunzio won his 126-pound bout with an 11-1 major decision.
Before returning to Harvard, the Crimson stopped off at Princeton Saturday for what was scheduled to be a four-team tournament with Princeton, Drexel and American.
The latter two teams did not make the trip due to the weather conditions, however, so the Crimson and the Tigers had the gym all to themselves.
Of the three meets, the Crimson had its best chance to grab a victory against Princeton--a school whose wrestling program is on the brink of being cut. With its injury-plagued line up, however, the Crimson could only make it a close loss.
The turning point of the loss came in the 167-pound bout where Gerstung, who had been bumped up a weight class so the Crimson could avoid forfeiting a match, was unexpectedly pinned.
"I know Steve's a better wrestler than the guy who pinned him," Weiss said. "Steve just got caught off-guard early."
"The Princeton loss was close," DeNunzio said. "But we could have beaten them."
The loss left the Crimson with a 2-7 record in dual matches and an 0-2 record in the Ivies.
The Crimson will return to the mats on the MAC this weekend with a Friday dual meet against Columbia and a tri-meet Saturday against B.U. and Cornell.