A well-balanced Crimson wrestling squad opens its season against M.I.T. tonight in a match that should tell a great deal about the grapplers' future.
Although ten returning lettermen from last year's strong team have been joined by a horde of promising sophomores from a freshman squad that swept eight of nine matches, coach Bob Pickett is making no extravagant predictions about his season.
Pickett will use sophomore Tack Chace in place of heavyweight John Hoffman, still suffering from a football injury.
That makes a total of five sophomores among the eight wrestlers who will face M.I.T. tonight, and though all fared well in freshman competition last year, Pickett will have to wait and see how they respond to the stiffer competition at the varsity level.
In addition to Chace the sophomores are Brad Smith, a capable 130-pounder who was 5-1 with the freshmen last year; Howard Durfee (7-1), at 137 pounds; Brian Conley (8-0-1), who beat out last year's starter, John Daniels at 147; and Lamar Fertig at 177.
Undoubtedly the Crimson's strongest wrestler, however, is captain Fred Pereira, a 167-pounder who won seven of his nine matches last year. "He's in better shape than ever," Pickett says, "and we expect a lot from him."
Pete Keeler, a letterman two years ago, returns at the 123-pound slot. His match with M.I.T.'s veteran Tom McAuley could be one of the highlights of tonight's match. In another good bout, the Engineers' Mike Williams, third in the New England tournament last year, will face Daniels, who has moved up a weight, in the 157-pound match.
Other standouts for the Engineers, who are rebuilding after losing five starters, are heavyweight Ken Sloat, 137-pounder Don Frederickson, and 177-pounder Bob Wells, who finished third in the New England tourney last year.