Sometimes home field is not an advantage after all, as the Harvard wrestling team came to find out Saturday, losing to No. 7 Cornell (8-0, 2-0 EIWA) in its home and Ivy League opener.
Coming off of a six-day rest period, the Crimson (1-3, 0-2) could not pull off the upset, falling to the Big Red, 30-8.
“We came off of a tough weekend in Washington D.C. where we wrestled hard but came up a little short at times,” senior heavyweight David Ng said. "But despite that we had a great week of practice. I know that when we compete the way we train we're a tough team to beat.”
Harvard recorded only two wins in the dual meet, coming from the duo of Ng and junior co-captain Todd Preston.
Preston, who is ranked the 17th best wrestler in the country, claimed the first win of the meet at 141 lbs. on a technical fall by his opponent Ryan Dunphy. He led the bout early, coming up with four takedowns in the first period.
In the following two periods, Preston added three sets of back points. His win added five points to the Crimson scoreboard, giving the team its first win. The senior now has won four straight matches in dual meets.
Ng’s win—a 6-1 victory over Jacob Aiken-Phillips—came too late for the Crimson. It was his third consecutive win, and while it gave Harvard three points, it was not enough to give his team the win.
“I'm happy with my the way I wrestled because I beat a guy who has beaten me a few times in the past,” Ng said. “That being said, there's a lot of room for improvement, and I'm just going to take my season one match at a time.”
Outside of these two wins, however, the Big Red dominated the meet.
Due to the absence of Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett, the match at 125 lbs. was uncontested. The meet started at 133 lbs. with senior Ryan Osleeb pitted against the Big Red's Bricker Dixon. Dixon controlled the bout from the beginning and clinched a 10-0 major decision, giving Cornell an early 4-0 lead.
After Preston’s win, the Big Red won the next six bouts in the following weight classes, five of which were for bonus points. This put the fate of the meet in Cornell’s hands.
Junior Nicholas Stager, freshman Tyler Tarsi, and sophomore Tyler Grimaldi all had technical falls in the 149 lbs., 157 lbs., and 165 lbs. weight categories, widening the gap between Harvard’s and Cornell’s scores. Junior Michael Mocco put up a fight against the top-ranked wrestler in the 184 lb. weight category, the Big Red's Gabe Dean, but could not top him.
“I personally had the same kind of situation as the team did, where....we’re good and work hard, we’re on the level, but we’re up against the best,” Mocco said.
Freshman Josef Johnson’s bout against Cornell's Craig Eifert at 174 lbs. was the closest of the day, with Johnson only losing by one point in a 10-9 decision. All of the other matches, except for the heavyweight one, were won by 10 points or more.
“Wrestling a team as tough as Cornell gives us a look at the steps that we need to take in order to become a top-10 team in the country,” Ng said. “Those guys fight for every single point and are stingy when giving up points. When you wrestle a guy from Cornell, win or lose it's going to be a battle, and that's a big part of making that next level jump.”
—Staff writer Katherine H. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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