Without three of its most experienced wrestlers, the Harvard wrestling team tied for third place behind Columbia and St. Lawrence in the Coast Guard Academy Invitational Tournament held this weekend in New London, Conn.
The Crimson, which accumulated 55 1/2 points behind Columbia's 70 and St. Lawrence's 62, entered the 15-team tournament lacking upper-weight contenders Sean Healy and Sean Wallace and unlimited sensation Jim Phills, who was sidelined with a case of impetigo. He will return for Saturday's quadmeet at UNH
"Phills' absence particularly hurt us," Harvard Coach Johnny Lee said. "We could have won this one with him."
Despite Harvard's third-place showing, the matmen left few doubts that this year will prove to be one of the most successful in Harvard wrestling history. "I still think we can beat Columbia," Lee said, commenting on the man-to-man match-ups with one of his squad's toughest Ivy League opponents.
The Crimson demonstrated some superlative wrestling from the onset of the tournament. Tri-Captain Paul Widerman dominated every opponent in his weight class until knee problems forced him to default in the finals to Columbia's Larry Kain, who Widerman defeated in a convincing 12-2 decision earlier in the day.
"Widerman is doing his finest wrestling at Harvard," Lee said of the four-year letterman who is a top contender for the Ivy crown in the 118-lb, weight class.
Easily winning the 142-lb, weight class, Harvard's Andy McNerney was unanimously named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler. McNerney found little competition during the weekend, whitewashing Southern Conn.'s Rick Babitts, 17-0, for his narrowest victory.
Freshman Kevin Wattles, wrestling at 190-lbs., demonstrated some of his future potential by pinning three opponents on his way to taking second place behind Boston University's Tod Giles.