The Harvard wrestling team kept it close, but ultimately fell short in a series of tight matches at the Boston Duals on Sunday. The team went 1-2 on the day with a victory against Binghamton, and losses to Army and American.
The Crimson defeated the Bearcats by a final score of 22-15, but the Eagles notched a 25-12 victory, and the Black Knights took down Harvard, 25-13.
“Overall, we might have been expecting a bit more from ourselves, but there were definitely some positive things to take from [the match],” sophomore Jeffrey Ott said.
The last time out, Harvard faced Rutgers, where it suffered its first loss of the season, winning five of ten bouts. But injuries have plagued the team in its past few meets, making things more difficult for the remaining wrestlers.
The team was forced to forfeit at the 125 pound position against each of Sunday’s three teams, putting it down six points before a wrestler had even taken the mat.
“I thought we wrestled well, but our team is a little banged up right now,” sophomore Todd Preston said. “We’re doing well, all things considered, but we still have to make some big improvements for where we want to be. We want to be a top 25 team.”
Preston led the Crimson, going 3-0 on the day. He earned decisions over American freshman Tom Paige, 5-0, Binghamton’s Nick Tighe, 4-2, and Army senior Tyler Rauenzahn, 5-3. The victories put Preston at 13-7 for the year and undefeated in dual meets.
With two wins apiece, Ott and senior Paul Liguori were strong competitors for Harvard. In the 133 pound class, Ott earned major decisions over Bearcat sophomore Mike Sardo, 10-0, and Black Knight sophomore Justin Seim, 13-1, both of which earned the team bonus points. In the 165 pound class, Liguori recorded victories against Eagle sophomore Marco Peralta and Binghamton sophomore Vincent Grella.
The Binghamton victory was sandwiched between the American and Army losses. Sophomore Nicholas Stager, freshman Tyler Grimaldi, and senior Ian Roy also contributed to the victory over the Bearcats. The team as a whole was able to string six straight victories together, putting it in position for a victory. Losses in the final three matches tightened the margin, but Binghamton was unable to make up the deficit.
Facing the Black Knights, the Crimson went up 7-6 after victories in the 133 and 141 pound bouts, with victories from Ott and Preston, but a pin by Army freshman Mark Marchetti against Stager in 6:12 in the 149 pound match led to five straight Black Knight victories, putting a Harvard victory out of reach.
Preston and Liguori secured the only Crimson victories against American, as the Eagles led the entire meet. The team had a chance late in the meet for a comeback with a score of 15-9 after Liguori’s’s victory, but losses in the 174, 197, and 285 pound classes secured the victory for American.
Throughout the entire day, many individual bouts were decided by only a point or two, which made a difference in the final outcome of the team events and is something the team plans on working on for the future. On the day, Harvard won six of its twelve victories by a margin of two or less.
“There was a fair amount of battling in close matches,” Ott said. “We were able to pull out some pretty close wins in overtime and right at the end of the third period, so that’s always nice to see. It’s important to win those close matches. That’s a big improvement from earlier on in the season.”
Despite closing out more tight matches, there is still room to progress, as five of 15 losses were also within two points.
“Some things didn’t go our way, but we can’t let small things get in the way,” Preston said. “We let the refs get in the way in some of our matches, which affected the turnout, but we can’t let the refs dictate the match.”
There will be little room for error the next time the Crimson takes the mat, as it faces an Ivy League rival, No. 6 Cornell, on January 18th.
“A lot of the matches we lost were all within a point or two,” Preston said. “The biggest thing we have to work on for next week is minimizing [close losses], especially going to Cornell, who are a top 10-team. We’re going to have to try and win some close matches, and that’s going to be a game changer. That’s how we can beat Cornell.”
—Staff writer Theresa Hebert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.