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Despite a mediocre team record, Harvard could have as many as six seeded wrestlers in the Eastern Intercollegiate Championships at Temple today.
The Crimson has never finished better than third in the Eastern team competition, and no Harvard wrestler has won an individual title since 1937.
But coach John Lee predicted yesterday that Harvard should place two wrestlers in the semifinals for the first time in three years. Penn State and Navy are the top team favorites, but Harvard has a good shot at improving its tenth-place finish as a squad last year.
Six Crimson wrestlers have individual records much better than the team's overall 8-4-2 finish. The Crimson's leading hope is junior Ritchie Starr at 177. As a sophomore, Starr finished fourth at the Easterns last year and was the only Crimson wrestler to place.
Starr, 5-1-1 for the year, was hampered by injuries early in the season, and he has still never fulfilled the starring role that many predicted. "Starr is the one Harvard entry who could win it all without any luck," Lee said. "But he hasn't pushed himself this year, and it's up to him to prove himself."
The Crimson's most talented wrestlers, Dan Blakinger (10-3) and freshman Carl Biello (9-3-1), are facing the stiffest competition of the meet at 118 and 126. There are no easy preliminaries in these classes, and several close match-ups will determine the Crimson's fortunes.
Harvard will be strongly represented at 134 and 142. Senior Josh Henson (9-3) should be ranked with Bob Medina of Penn State and Navy's Tolk. Gerry Kahrilas (10-3-1) should advance until he is paired against Navy's Lloyd Keyser. In these two weight classes Harvard's fortunes could be good if the Crimson does not meet Penn State or Navy in the opening bouts.
Dave Scanlon (8-2) has one of the finest records on the team at 190. Like Starr, Scanlon should be seeded high in a relatively weak class and could advance through the opening matches.
Harvard is not favored in the other weight classes, but the traditional weakness of most squads in the middle-weight classes may give the Crimson an even chance to reach Saturday's bouts with one surprise.
The first round of sixteen will open at 1 p.m. today, and the second round will be completed tonight. Semifinals and finals will be fought on Saturday.
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