English novelist Charles Dickens must have had last Saturday's performance of the Harvard varsity wrestling team in mind when he wrote "It was the best of times and it was the worst of times."
Saturday the Crimson grapplers lost one of their worst matches in a decade and won one of their best matches of the year when they traveled to Southern Connecticut University for a quadrangular meet involving Army, Mass Maritime Academy, and Southern Connecticut.
Crimson coach Johnny Lee described the first match of the day, a 31-5 loss to Army, as "the worst match Harvard has wrestled in ten years."
The final match, a 24-15 victory over Southern Connecticut, the number-two ranked team in New England was "the best we've wrestled this season," Lee said yesterday.
In the second match of this "tale of two teams," Mass Maritime handed Harvard a frustrating 22-19 loss as a prelude to the astonishing reversal of the Crimson's fortunes in the Southern Connecticut contest.
After losing in the opening match of the Army tilt by a major decision, the Crimson lost three consecutive bouts by a 5-4 score to foreshadow the Army assault.
Co-captain Tom Bixby notched the Crimson's only win of the match at 150 lbs. by downing cadet Bob Forbes, 8-4.
The Crimson beat a hasty retreat in the final matches until Craig Beling appeared in the unlimited division. However, Beling's 7-5 lead disappeared when Cadet John O'Dowd tied the match, 7-7, with a takedown as the final buzzer sounded.
Harvard almost recovered from the Army debacle with winning form in its next match, but Mass Maritime out pointed the Crimson, 22-19. "The Maritime loss was typical of many of the team's losses this year," said coach Lee, "One bout could have turned the match around."
In the 134-lb. class, Crimson grappler Bill Mulvihill held a 7-0 lead with 15 seconds remaining in the bout. When Mulvihill was distracted due to a positioning argument with the referee, Mariner Dick Abbot suddenly reversed Mulvihill and recorded a pin with only one second left on the clock. The fall erased the Crimson grappler's apparently in 'surmountable lead.
Although the Harvard matmen swept five of the last six bouts on strong performances by Bixby, Corcoran, Tony Cimmarusti, Sal D'Agostino and Beling, the team still wound up with its second loss of the afternoon.
The same wrestlers who had lost to Army and Mass Maritime only a few minutes earlier looked like a whole new team when they faced a Southern Connecticut squad sporting a 12-1 record.
Southern Connecticut jumped out to a 12-3 lead after the first four bouts as Mulvihill garnered the Crimson's only points with a 7-3 win at 134.
Doug Mason began the Harvard comeback by recording a shutout with a 5-0 decision in the 150 lb. class. Next, Jim Corcoran pinned previously undefeated Cliff Verron at 3:44 in the 158 lb. division to tie the team score at 12-all.
Southern Connecticut regainea the lead momentarily in the next bout when Don Curry downed Harvard's Jon Franklin, 10-4. Ed Bordley countered effectively byicing Rick Reavis in the 177-lb. contest to give the Crimson a three point advantage.
Sal D'Agostino widened the gap to six points with a 7-2 victory at 190. Then Beling sealed Connecticut's fate in the final bout of the day.
Beling faced Shawn Bilodu, who normally wrestles at 177-lbs., in the unlimited bout. The Southern Connecticut coach hoped to take advantage of Bilodu's quickness, but Beling scored a narrow 7-6 win to erase memories of the Harvard team that Army blitzed earlier.
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