Wrestlers Falter at Eastern Tourney

Phills, McNerney Place Fifth

It's over. The season that showed so much early promise came to a disappointing finale for Crimson wrestlers in the Eastern Championships at Princeton this weekend.

Of the 16 teams competing, Harvard could muster only a 13th-place finish before capacity crowds at Princeton's Jadwin Gymnasium.

Syracuse captured the title with 159 3/4 points, and Lehigh, with 134 1/2, was second. Navy took third.

Only two of the Crimson's nine entrants--142 pounder Andy McNerney and heavyweight Jim Phills--managed to place within the top sixth finishers. McNerney earned himself a second day of wrestling with two wins Saturday, but was rudely awakened by a pin four minutes into his 2-0 overtime semi-final about against Cornell's Gene Nighman. The Crimson sophomore redeemed himself, though, with a 3-0 decision in his consolation match and earned himself fifth place finish.

Phills equalled McNerney's performance, dropping a notch from his finish at last year's tourney. He won twice on Saturday, but Sunday proved to be his downfall, as he lost in overtime to Syracuse's Larry Rotunda.


Regulation time ended with the score tied at two, but Rotunda, who went on to win the title, was able to pull out a 5-1 overtime decision.

Phills lost his first consolation bout, but picked up a forfeit in his second, giving him a fifth-placed finish.

Before the tourney, Coach Lee was cautiously optimistic about the chances for some of his other wrestlers. Rick Beller, Fritz Campbell, Sean Healey and Mark Cooley had shared their coach's spotlight.

All four had reasonably good chances for placing within the top three Lee had said. A first-, second-or third-place individual finish this weekend was needed for a wrestler to advance to the NCAA Nationals, which will be held in two weeks at Jadwin. But aside from Phills and McNerney, nobody came close.

One-hundred-eighteen pounder Beller got as far as the quarterfinals, but dropped an 8-1 decision that landed him in the consolation round, which he forfeited to Army Cadet Jim Turner.