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Late Surge Propels Wrestling over BU

By Jillian Dukes, Crimson Staff Writer

After falling behind at the midway mark, the Harvard wrestling team battled back to win over its cross-river rivals. The Crimson (3-4) lost an initial lead over Boston University (3-7) but scrambled back to take the Charles Cup, 23-15, at the Malkin Athletic Center on Saturday night.

“This is a big win for us as a team,” junior James Fox said. “BU always comes in and wrestles us really tough for the Charles Cup. We knew it would be a really close match and that it would come down to bonus points at the end.”

One of the standout performances of the night came from Fox at the 197 lb weight class. The junior recorded a fall against BU’s Kristian Meyer to put the Crimson firmly in the lead, 20-15.

“I told him he had to go out and get points for us,” coach Jay Weiss said. “When you have leaders trying to do something bigger for the sake of the team, things happen like that. He hasn’t wrestled like that all year, and you could see that it was starting to click for him.”

Fox had narrowly missed notching a similar fall in his recent match against Cornell, making the performance all the more meaningful for the two-time NCAA qualifier.

“It was electrifying,” Fox said. “I was able to get into a good position and put him on his back to get the pin.... It was just awesome.”

After a three-match losing streak put Harvard in an early hole, the team started to turn the tables when freshman Eric Morris notched a major decision over BU senior Eric Des Lauriers in the 174 lb weight class to draw the Crimson within five points.

“After losing some of those weights down lower, we knew we were going to need bonus points,” Fox said. “So we knew going into the 74, 84, [and] 97 that we had to do our best. The mentality was that we had to go after those guys and get points for the team to anchor the win.”

Brennan Smith stepped up into the lineup at the 165 lb division after an injury benched Harvard’s expected wrestler. The sophomore took junior Mitchell Wightman into triple overtime before falling, 2-1.

“[Smith] wrestled really well for us,” Fox said. “Even though he lost, he kept us close, didn’t give up any bonus points, and got us really fired up as a team.”

Freshman Tyler Grimaldi also provided a strong effort that did not fully translate to the scoreboard with a 16-6 loss to No. 8-ranked Nestor Taffur in the 157 lb division. After an initial takedown by Taffur, Grimaldi was able to battle back before the BU senior registered the takedown.

Following Eric Morris’s victory, the Crimson seized on the momentum from Fox’s fall and did not drop a match the rest of the contest, holding BU to 15.

Captain Cameron Croy notched five takedowns to register a major decision against junior Andrew Maksimovic in the 184 lb division. In the heavyweight division, Harvard sophomore Nicholas Gadzjik and Terrier senior Kevin Innis provided the closest match of the day. After bringing the match score to a 1-1 tie, Gadzjik seized the momentum, escaping a single leg grab by Innis to notch a 3-1 victory, and solidify Harvard’s win, 23-15.

“Nick lost to [Innis] last year,” Fox said. “So it was awesome to see him come out this year and beat him, and really show everyone that he’s made some great strides as a wrestler.”

This win for the Crimson marks the end of a two game losing streak for the squad. Weiss was pleased with the effort across the board.

“From top to bottom our guys wrestled hard tonight, whether they won or lost,” Weiss said. “They wrestled as a team tonight, and it really reinforced what we’ve been telling them.... Tonight showed that it’s all really starting to click for them.”

—Staff writer Jillian Dukes can be reached at jdukes01@college.harvard.edu.

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