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The Harvard wrestling team watched its visions of the 1981 Ivy League championship fade into the distance this weekend as it dropped its first two league matches to Cornell and Columbia.
The IAB was the scene of Friday afternoon's defeat at the hands of the Big Red. The Cornell matmen parlayed five decisions and a pair of pins into a 27-15 dual match victory over Harvard.
Defending Ivy champ Columbia took its turn at the Crimson on Saturday afternoon at Boston College's Roberts Arena in the opening round of a quadrangular match and emerged with a 37-10 win.
The second and third rounds of Saturday's quad match were anticlimatic; the Harvard grapplers salvaged some of their pride and padded their record with a 47-3 shellacking of B.C. and a 41-0 shutout of Western New England College.
But the big ones had already slipped away. Harvard coach Johnny Lee considers Cornell and Columbia to be "the best teams in the Ivies" and consequently called the results of the weekend's league contests "discouraging, but not unexpected."
Ironically, the first of the twin beatings actually began on a high note as freshman Rick Beller took the initial take-down and two subsequent ones en route to a 6-2 victory over his 118-lb. Cornell opponent.
Earlier, Lee had worried about his team's weakness at the middle weights and his fears were realized Friday as Cornell rolled up five consecutive victories, including pins at the 150- and 158-lb. divisions before Sean Healey's pin at 167 temporarily stopped the Big Red advance. The Crimson sophomore, wrestling in the next higher weight class from his accustomed slot, registered the fall only 1:50 into the first period.
Cornell then took the next two matches but it was Harvard's Jim Phills who had the last laugh. The sophomore heavyweight took only 22 seconds to take down and pin his Cornell counterpart.
Columbia, fresh from a 30-10 dumping of Yale on Friday night, took the advantage from the start and never relinquished it. In the opening bout, Beller got off to another promising start but suffered a sprained ankle midway through the second period that caused him to forfeit the match.
From there, the Crimson faced an uphill battle. Andy McNerney notched a major decision at 134 and Rick Kief and Mark Colley added three team points apiece at 126 and 190, but it wasn't enough to offset Lion pins at 142, 150, and 177.
At heavyweight, Phills faced Columbia's talented Jay Craddock. In this battle of the behemoths, who had split the results of their past two showdowns, Phills finally earned the takedown and was leading 2-1 when he made a miscue, found himself trapped beneath Craddock's immensity, and was pinned.
The Western New England cakewalk featured pins by Brian Baer at 150, and by Phills. Against B.C., Phills notched his third fall of the weekend and was joined by Alex Montgomery (158), Tony Cimmarusti (167), and Joe Bowen (177).
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