After last season, when an amazing string of injuries leveled one wrestler after another, week in and week out from November until February, wrestling coach Johnny Lee knew better than to count his chickens before they hatched. This year, however, it seemed Lady Luck had moved to his side. Unfortunately even luck could not prevent co-captain Tony Cimmarrusti from seriously injuring his knce in the Yale Game.
The loss of Cimmarrusti and junior opportunity for the three frosh who appear to have earned their spots on the varsity to hone their skills before the dual meets get underway.
"In spite of the depth we have this year in the lower weights, we will need the latecomers to pull up the slack of the 177 and 190: without them we will just be giving away too many points," Lee said earlier this week.
Today, when the core of the varsity opens up the season at the Coast Guard Tourney in New Haven, Conn., several of the grapplers, including Wes Carrion. Buck Burnaman, and Paul Rozak, will remain in Cambridge to follow Lee's instructions about getting down to weight and into shape fast. All three are making a valiant effort to land one of the vacant positions.
The eight wrestlers making the trip can expect to see plenty of tough competition from the field of 16 schools. This is a prime opportunity for the three outstanding frosh who appear to have earned their spots on the varsity to hone their skills before the dual meets get underway.
Right This Way
Jim Phills, a two-time Canadian Junior National Champion in the heavyweight division, has arrived on the scene to fill the gap left by the graduation of Craig Beling. Phills, who prefers upper body moves, has already shown himself a force to be reckoned with. He used a variety of throws and tosses to earn a third-place finish at the Colgate open, a preseason competition held earlier this month.
In the lower weight classes Andy McNerney and Fritz Campbell have nailed down the 126-and 134-lb, slots. McNerney wasted no time proving himself, also notching a third at the Colgate Open.
"The freshman crop is very strong and I expect them all to do very well in spite of their inexperience on the college level," Lee says. "I honestly think Campbell is one of the best young wrestlers to come to Harvard since I've been here."
Last year's standout, Paul Widerman, is aiming toward another strong year. Light for the 118-lb, class, the sophomore went down to 114 for last year's National AAU meet and came away with a fourth-place finish and gained valuable experience along the way.
Rounding out this weekend's traveling squad are veterans Rich Corrado in the 142-lb, class. Alex Montgomery and Mark Cocalis at 150 and 167 lbs, respectively and co-captain Doug Mason. Mason's recovery from last year's long-term virus is a definite plus. Always a bright spot in the program over the past three years, he fills the 158 slot solidly.
"The most important quality that will be necessary for team success is consistency." Mason says. "The raw talent is there again but people have to wrestle up to their ability."