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The Crimson matmen suffered some surprising losses in the middle weights last night and bowed to the Yale Bulldogs, 23-15. Both teams were manhandled earlier this year by the potent Princeton Tigers but had swept through the rest of their league contests, making last night's match a showdown for second place in the Ivies. Harvard has been unable to reach that rung since 1971.
The afternoon's action started badly for Harvard when Dave Albert (118 lbs.) was called for several stalling points and dropped his match, 14-6.
Then the Crimson took temporary control. Co-captain Milt Yasunga (126 lbs.) whipped Bulldog Craig Davis for the third year running, 5-1. Bob Cusumano (134 lbs.) plastered his foe, 8-1, and Brian Adler (142 lbs.) took the place of the injured Bill Mulvihill and came away with his first conquest of the season, 10-3.
Suddenly everything started to go wrong. Bulldog Steve Traylor played what Crimson coach Johnny Lee called "Yo-Yo" with Tom Bixby, taking him down and letting him up and taking him down again often enough to clean up. 20-9.
Defenseless on His Feet
Next, Harvard's Jim Corcoran (158 lbs.) squared off with Matt DeNunzio in what figured to be the closest battle of the day, but the Bulldog grappler left his foe looking defenseless on his feet and chalked up an easy one, 17-7. Surprise number one.
Surprise number two came two bouts later, after Ed Bordley had hurt his ribs and lost his match, 18-6. John Williams grabbed a comfortable 4-0 lead over an obviously inferior Yale matman but fell apart in the last four minutes to come off the mat an 8-6 loser.
Harvard has been saved by its heavyweights all year, and a win was still conceivably within reach. The Crimson trailed 20-9 with only two bouts remaining, but a pair of pins would produce a 21-20 verdict, and Harvard's last two wrestlers were Sal D'agostino (10-0 with seven pins) and co-captain Kip Smith (9-1).
D'agostino set his sights on yet another fall, and that proved to be his undoing.
"There's no doubt that Sal could have beaten the guy if a win was all he wanted," Lee said last night, "but he took a lot of chances. He knew he had to pack the guy."
The Bulldog grappler proved good enough to lay back and take advantage of D'agostino's over-ambitious lunges and handed Sal his first setback of the season, 11-9. Surprise number three.
Smith came through with the necessary pin, but by then it was two late. Yale had the victory, 23-15, and a strong hold on the Ivy League runner-up spot.
Despite the loss, the matmen have racked up their first winning season since 1971. With two matches remaining, against weak sisters Brown and UMass, Harvard has already nabbed eight wins in 13 outings, a sizable improvement over last year's 7-8 finish.
The wrestlers pause in Providence this afternoon to cage the Bruins in their quest for a fourth Ivy triumph. The main target now is the Eastern Individual Tournament to be held in Syracuse the first week in March.
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