A last-second decision by the referee allowed the Crimson wrestling team to hold on to a breathtaking 21-20 victory against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen Saturday at the IAB.
Harvard led, 21-17, going into the heavyweight bout between the Crimson's Craig Beling and UMass wrestler, John Ailen. In the final period of the event, Ailen needed three more points to record a major decision over Belig and create a tie in the final team score. Ailen momentarily turned Beling on his back in the last seconds of the bout. When the buzzer sounded, the referee awarded the UMass heavyweight only two points, and Harvard emerged with their first victory of the season.
The Minutemen built up a lead in the lighter weights, but two consecutive victories by co-captains Tom Bixby and Jim Corcoran narrowed the gap and turned the tide in favor of the Crimson grapplers.
Bixby upped his record to 3-0 in the 150 lb. class with a 5-0 shutout over Steve McLarney. Corcoran earned five team points by overwhelming Mike Cunningham, 13-1, in the 158 lb. class.
In the 167 lb. match, Ed Bordley brought the Crimson to within one point of the Minutemen with the only pin of the day. Bordley out-muscled Steve Whitman and recorded his pin 3:50 into the bout. Then Sal D'Agostino put the Crimson matmen on top to stay with a 13-0 victory in the 190 lb. division.
Earlier, freshman Rick Kief battled to a 5-5 draw with Tony Perry in the 126 lb. class. Both wrestlers were high school state champions in Massachusetts last year. Another Crimson freshman, Keith Oberg, wrestled aggressively, but could not overtake his opponent in the 142 lb. bout.
"The first win is always good," D'Agostino, who raised his record to 2-1, said after the match. Coach Johnny Lee said he was glad to see the matmen pull out a close victory, especially after the team's narrow defeats at the hands of Boston University and Springfield. The matmen now sport a 1-2 record. The next matches for the Crimson will be tomorrow night a' the IAB, when they host New Hampshire and Worcester Tech at 7:00 p.m.