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Harvard wrestling (3-4 overall, 3-3 Ivy League) made another statement in the Ivy League this past weekend at home defeating Columbia (5-7 overall, 5-3 Ivy League) 19-18 in a gritty match on Friday night. The Crimson followed up with a hefty 21-11 win over visiting Hofstra on Saturday afternoon. These wins moved the Crimson to a 3-4 record on the season and produced a lot of great energy as well. The victory over Columbia came just one year after a decisive 3-27 loss to the Lions, certainly creating a buzz, a testament to both the coaches and wrestlers alike.
Harvard secured victories in five weight classes against Columbia, each proving to be an important decider in the narrow win. Junior Phillip Conigliaro defeated Lennox Wolak at 174 lbs to kick off the match, but things were just heating up. Following Conigliaro, junior Leo Tarantino prevailed at 184 lbs, a match that proved to be vital in the Crimson’s ultimate victory. The Tampa, Fla. native had a huge takedown in the 3rd period to take the match to overtime. In the “4th period,” Tarantino closed out his win with another two-point takedown with just 16 seconds left on the clock, scoring three massive points important to Harvard’s victory.
“It's a game of inches and an overtime win like that ended up being a pretty contributing factor to the score in the end,” said Tarantino in reference to the match. “We've started to do things as a program that we haven't done in years.”
His win brought the Malkin Athletic Center to its feet, a trend that continued throughout the evening.
“I haven't heard the MAC that loud in a long time. It was very cool,” commented head coach Jay Weiss following the exciting dual.
Following a loss at 197 lbs, senior captain Yaraslau Slavikouski and sophomore Diego Sotelo each won their matches at 285 lbs and 125 lbs, respectively. Both wrestlers have had solid seasons thus far, leaving them ranked among the top wrestlers nationally, and look poised to. have an excellent opportunity to make noise in March at the EIWA and NCAA tournaments.
That said, the statement of the evening came from first-year Dante Frinzi. The Pennsylvania native, whose mother and grandmother had surprised him just before the match, certainly made their travels worth it. Just one minute and forty-five seconds into the first period, the 133-pounder pinned Columbia’s Angelo Rini to secure six points. Frinzi’s first win in the MAC also happened to be his first pin in a Harvard singlet. While he admits the transition to collegiate wrestling has not always been easy, Frinzi is excited for what lies ahead.
“I think just competing and adding a bunch of experience throughout this year helped transition into the rest of the season and now, especially at the end of the season,” he reflected. “I think that all of us, we’re really just putting our foot on the pedal and really aiming towards the end of the year.”
On its way to victory, Harvard dropped the final four matches to the Lions, but the early winning momentum carried into Saturday. First-years Joseph Cangro and Jack Crook, junior Josh Kim, and senior Trevor Tarsi, along with Sotelo and Slavikouski, all took home victories in the Crimson’s notable win over Hofstra.
With EIWA Championships quickly approaching, Weiss’ tenure in collegiate wrestling has certainly contributed to the program peaking at just the right time. Although somewhat new to the scene, Frinzi can attest to this impact.
“He's a great coach – one of the best I've ever had. He really shaped every individual to just really come together as a team and focuses on everyone coming together and just lifting each other up. He just really keeps us dialed in.”
Tarantino spoke of similar sentiments of his coach, saying “He has always been character first in recruiting, and you can see how explosive that is when you get a group of people who have faith in each other and have faith in the mission of the program.”
The 184-pounder continued, reflecting, “I think that's something that's really rare – every single one of them I would invite to my house, introduce them to my family and friends, because those are the people that our coaches surround everyone with – not just talent, but people first. That call comes from Coach Weiss.”
Harvard will return to the MAC on Friday night to take on Brown in a 7:00 p.m. match against the Bears. This match will be the last before the Crimson takes to the mat in Philadelphia for the EIWA tournament, set to take place during the first weekend in March.
– Staff writer Sydney E. Farnham can be reached at email@example.com.
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