Wrestling Stumbles In Season’s 1st Dual Meet

In its first dual meet of the season against No. 14 Hofstra this Sunday, the No. 25 Harvard wrestling team could not recover from an early bombardment of nationally ranked opponents, eventually falling by the final score of 25-12 in a lopsided contest at the David S. Mack Sports Complex.

The Crimson competed without junior Andrew Flanagan (165 lbs.) and freshman Corey Jantzen (133 lbs.) to anchor the starting lineup.

Though Harvard posted less-than-desirable results, the team salvaged the contest by showing more life in the second half, including two highlight bouts by senior Billy Colgan at 197 lbs. and sophomore Andrew Knapp at heavyweight.

Colgan defeated Richard Vitale of Hofstra, 10-7, in a back-and-forth affair, garnering the winning points with 15 seconds left on the clock.

Knapp, who could not hold on to his lead in regulation, battled James Guerin of the Pride into double overtime. Knapp was taken down with nine seconds remaining and lost, 6-4, to close the meet.

“It was a good opportunity to wrestle some tough competition before Christmas break,” coach Jay Weiss said. “Now we know what we have to do when we come back. [The dual meet] is a different environment, and we’re still getting used to [how to wrestle in] different situations.”

Harvard (0-1) began the day having to face three ranked wrestlers from Hofstra at 125, 133, and 141.

No. 9 Dave Tomasette, No. 2 Lou Ruggirello, and No. 5 Charles Griffin combined for two major decisions and a technical fall to make an early statement for the Pride, dictating the mood for the day’s competition.

“Wrestling is a team sport,” said co-captain Louis Caputo, who won his match at 184 lbs.—one of only three wins for the Crimson. “It’s hard to galvanize your team after three tough bouts [to begin the day].”

“We didn’t look very sharp,” Weiss said. “I don’t think we came out fighting, even though they did have three ranked guys in the lightweights.”

Sophomore J.P. O’Connor, ranked third in the nation at 149 lbs., put a stop to Harvard’s losing streak when he defeated Mitch Smith of Hofstra in a close 4-2 decision.

Senior Bobby Latessa followed O’Connor with a high-scoring match at 157 lb. but fell short, 12-7. Senior Matt Button was shut out in his bout at 165 lbs., and sophomore Frankie Colletta lost in an 8-3 decision to No. 13 Alton Lucas at 174 lb.

The Crimson finally showed some fight at 184 and 197, stringing together two straight victories from Caputo and Colgan.

Caputo, ranked eighth in the nation, pinned his opponent in 4:26, raising Harvard’s point total to nine. Colgan then followed with his win, making the score 22-12.

Knapp, though, could not continue the Crimson’s momentum in his double-overtime heavyweight bout.

“There were a couple of matches that could have gone either way,” Weiss said. “We need to fight a little more. We have a young team, but we have a good team.”

“It was a good way to gauge where we need to improve,” Caputo said. “We’re not extremely happy with the results, but we didn’t wrestle poorly. Hofstra is a tough team, but I don’t think our guys let that get to their heads.”

Harvard will be competing at the Midlands Championship on Dec. 29-30. The Crimson will look forward to the return of Flanagan and Jantzen to its active roster in time for the competition.

—Staff writer Tony D. Qian can be reached at