For Harvard wrestling, the 2013-2014 season was a roller coaster of highs and lows from the very beginning. The squad saw injuries, comebacks, upsets, and no shortage of tough competition throughout the year, finishing with an overall record of 4-8 and going 4-7 in EIWA conference competition.
“We had a lot of goals in the beginning of the year, and I don’t think we met all those goals,” Harvard coach Jay Weiss said. “But it definitely was not a disappointment. I really think we kept working and grew as a team this year.”
The Crimson had some of its best performances at the end of its season, as it posted its fourth consecutive top-10 performance at the EIWA Championships, finishing ahead of Princeton and Penn, both of whom beat Harvard in dual meets. Five members of the Harvard squad finished higher than their seeds would have predicted, and the Crimson notched its first 141-pound individual title since 1999 with sophomore Todd Preston’s victory.
“As a team, we gear everything that we do training-wise to peak in March,” Weiss said. “Our guys did exactly that, they did a great job and wrestled at their best at the end in there.”
In the postseason, two different wrestlers—Preston and junior James Fox—represented Harvard at the NCAA Championships.
“On the one hand, I’m glad that we’re still sending guys out there [to the tournament],” Preston said. “But we want to be sending 10 guys, not just two or three, and I know this team has the potential to do that.”
The Crimson’s greatest triumph came in a come-from-behind victory over Boston University at the season’s midway point. Heading into the upper weight classes, Harvard trailed, 15-6. With just four bouts left, the Crimson rallied to regain the lead, winning all four matches to seal the victory. Harvard sealed the Terriers’ fate with Fox’s fall over Aaron Conrad, and heavyweight Nicholas Gajdzik rounded out the night to secure the win for Harvard, 23-15.
“BU had been hyping up that match,” Preston said. “To beat a good team handily was good for our confidence.”
Another high point for the squad came during its first dual meet victory at Rider, in which seven of the 10 Harvard wrestlers recorded individual wins to propel the Crimson to a 25-13 victory.
“[Rider] was a good team, and it was a fun match to be in,” Weiss said. “We came back and wrestled really well. Individually, I liked how the guys fought.”
The Crimson dealt with a great deal of obstacles, however, as many main players for Harvard were kept off the mats due to injury.
“We were young throughout the whole year, and I think injuries didn’t help us to do our best,” Weiss said. “Having guys like [sophomore] Devon Gobbo and [freshman] Eric Morris hurt really set us back.”
One of the hardest losses for the Crimson came at the hands of Ivy foe Princeton, as Harvard fell to the Tigers, 19-17. The Princeton match came right on the heels of another tight loss to Penn, in which Harvard stumbled at home, 23-15.
“It was really difficult,” Preston said. “But we are a very young team. For our guys who just don’t have the experience of the older guys, it’s really tough.”
The Crimson notched just one win in the Ivy League this season, dropping Brown, 30-10.