Any member of Harvard wrestling will tell you that it’s a long season, but getting an early win never hurts. After struggling for the past few weeks, the Crimson (1-9) earned its first dual victory of 2011 on Saturday, topping Army, 21-12, on the road. Although the momentum did not carry over in a 40-7 loss at No. 7 Lehigh yesterday, Harvard emerged satisfied with its effort on the mat heading into the Ivy League slate.
“I feel like the weekend went really well team-wise,” sophomore Steven Keith said. “We picked up our first win against Army, which had just come off a win against Brown. So, not only were we able to beat them when their spirits were up, but we should be able to beat [some Ivy teams] in the future.”
Of course, a lopsided loss to the Mountain Hawks reminded the Crimson that its work isn’t finished, and Harvard coach Jay Weiss expects his squad to improve.
“It’s not the easiest wrestling environment down at Lehigh,” he said. “Lehigh’s a good team, and they’ve got some top wrestlers…but I think we can walk away learning things from the weekend.”
NO. 7 LEHIGH 40, HARVARD 7
Despite a strong effort in Saturday’s match, the Crimson was no match for the powerful Mountain Hawks (12-5) yesterday at Leeman-Turner Arena. Harvard began the contest with a bang, as Keith (125 lbs.) notched a 10-2 major decision over Mitch Berger to spot his team four points. The win was Keith’s second of the weekend, and Weiss was particularly impressed with the sophomore’s ability to shake off injury.
“Steven and Walter [Peppelman] got banged up [against Army] and weren’t 100 percent today,” Weiss said. “But both wrestled smart and did enough to win.”
According to Keith, the key was simply refusing to be thrown off his game.
“I didn’t really change my approach,” the sophomore said. “I just went into the match and took it head-on and didn’t notice any [pain] until the match was over.”
Unfortunately for the Crimson, though, Lehigh—which bested top-ranked Cornell on Jan. 20—responded to the early setback. The Mountain Hawks reeled off a pair of technical falls and a pin in the next three bouts to take a commanding lead. Harvard’s sophomore co-captain Peppelman (157) did his part with a 1-0 decision over Sean Bilodeau, but the win would mark the Crimson’s last for the weekend. Lehigh swept the upper weights, leaving Weiss assured that his team has work to do ahead.
“When you have young guys going against some of the top guys, you just want them to go out and fight more,” the coach said. “The more times we do that, the more they’re going to grow…I think we’re going to be a better team in a couple of months, because I see [that experience] working.”
HARVARD 21, ARMY 12
An eight-match losing streak followed the Crimson to West Point, N.Y., but Harvard departed Arvin Gymnasium with many of those struggles forgotten. In a solid team victory, the Crimson won seven matches against the Black Knights (7-6), five of which featured freshmen or sophomores.
Keith and classmate Shay Warren (133) posted consecutive decisions to begin the day, but the match proved to be a back-and-forth affair. Freshman Joe Marino dropped a 9-2 decision at 141 pounds, and fellow rookie Joe Alie succumbed to a pin after 4:57.
Facing yet another deficit, Harvard turned to its most consistent grappler—Peppelman. The co-captain, who is currently ranked No. 9 in the country, battled to a 7-5 win over Jimmy Rafferty, his team-leading 18th of the season. Peppelman’s emergence this year has proven particularly critical after junior Corey Jantzen (149) went down with a season-ending elbow injury.
Crimson Hopes To Avoid Letdown at LehighThe Lehigh Mountain Hawks have yet to win a football game this season; they have suffered losses to Connecticut State, No. 2 Villanova, and Princeton. But their record may not be a clear indicator of their talent, and the Crimson (1-1) should expect to see a physical team in its matchup on Saturday.
Football Players Back to RealityPeople at this school like to talk about the Harvard bubble. We live with a perpetual haze shrouding our eyes from reality, allowing us only to see a distorted conception of it, one in which every midterm means life or death and thesis deadlines mark the coming of Armageddon. The illusion permeates every aspect of our lives. Candidates in student elections campaign with an urgency and self-importance befitting a presidential contender. Advocacy groups push for their righteous causes with such vigor and conviction that they might as well be lobbying for legislation in front of Congress. The only arena seemingly left out of this arrangement of ours is athletics. While the common misconception is that sports aren’t huge here because our teams aren’t good (many of them are), the real reason is that most Harvard students are too immersed in their own great endeavors to care much. But sometimes we’re even able to cover up that reality.
Fired UpBETHLEHEM, Penn.—In a contest that could have been a trap game for Harvard football, the only person that felt trapped was Lehigh quarterback Chris Lum. The sophomore, who was making his first career start, was terrorized by the Crimson defense, which sacked him four times and picked off four of his passes. Senior linebacker Jon Takamura ran back a fourth-quarter interception 60 yards for a touchdown to ice Harvard’s (2-1, 1-0 Ivy) 28-14 win over the Mountain Hawks (0-4, 0-0 Patriot) Saturday in a non-conference matchup at Goodman Stadium.
Harvard Captures First Team VictoryAfter falling just short of the team title and claiming runner-up honors in its last tournament, the Harvard women’s golf team claimed its first victory of the season over the weekend, winning the Yale Fall Intercollegiate tournament, which took place at The Course at Yale.
Crimson Looks To Rumble Over Lehigh
Battered Crimson Still a TargetThis is Harvard, and despite the team’s personnel struggles and 3-2 record, the Crimson is still coming out every week with a target on its back.