Athletes warm up for big matches in different ways.
Some stretch and others jog lightly. Some taper their practice routines and others push themselves even harder.
For the members of the Harvard men's wrestling team, their warmup for the big, Big, BIG Cornell match Saturday at the MAC came last night with easy wins against Western New England and Amherst.
"For those kids who didn't compete in the holiday tournaments, this is their first competition since the second week in December," said Harvard Co-Captain Tim Kierstead, who pinned Western New England's Chad Gerard in 4:05. "Playing Division III opponents is a good tuneup for our Division I match against Cornell."
The Crimson wrestled its starters against Western New England and emerged with a 34-9 victory. Leading the way were 126-pounder Todd Cameron, who pinned Eric Gremmo in 2:50, Kierstead and 134-pounder Sam Cole, who outpointed Tom Cascio, 17-3. In the 150-pound division, Mike Constanza recovered in the final period from an early deficit to outpoint Jim Scanlon, 10-5.
Harvard's only losses came at 177 pounds--with John Willoughby losing to Division III All-American candidate Rey Santiago, 10-6--and in the heavyweight division, which Harvard forfeited.
"Coach has worked us really hard during intersession, but we've really benefited from a lot of kids coming in and working hard during exams," Kierstead said. "We're not in the best shape because of the break, but this is the best I've seen [at this point in the season] in four years."
Harvard's reserves got a chance to get some intercollegiate competition in the Crimson's 37-15 win over Amherst. In only his second career match 118-pounder Josh freshwater pinned Mark Cruse in 1:21, while 150-pound Chris Bell pinned Jorge Armenteros in 58 seconds for his first intercollegiate win. Chris Sanzone also picked up his first win, 4-3, over Jon Hayes in the 157-pound division.
Wrestling two Division III opponents last night was the perfect warmup for Harvard as it heads into its biggest challenge of the season against the Big Red Saturday.
"This is the best conditioned we've been for Cornell in four years," Kierstead said.