CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The Harvard wrestling team capped off its dual-meet season in dramatic fashion with a come-from-behind victory over Columbia Friday night at the Malkin Athletic Center, 18-16.
Harvard trailed 15-9 heading into the 197 lbs. bout between James Fox and Nicholas Mills. Fox controlled the tempo from the opening whistle, taking a 4-0 lead into the second period and improving his advantage to 7-0 midway through. Leading 7-1 to begin the third, Fox conceded an escape to Mills before tacking on two points for a takedown, one point for stalling and one point for riding-time advantage to earn an 11-2 major decision.
Nicholas Gajdzik and Chris Manna went scoreless into the second period of their heavyweight matchup with the Crimson now trailing by two in the team scores, 15-13. Gajdzik was able to ride Manna for the entire second period to accumulate 2:00 of riding time, and then took a 1-0 lead in the third as Manna conceded the escape. Gajdzik was able to defend against Manna's attack throughout the final frame and picked up the win, 2-0, to secure the team victory.
Harvard improved to 8-5 overall and 6-4 in the EIWA with the win, marking the first time since 2000-01 that the Crimson has finished with a winning record overall and in the conference. Harvard also closed the year out with five consecutive wins, the longest win streak for the team since the same year.
The Crimson and Columbia (5-8, 2-5 EIWA) split the first four weight classes beginning with Jeffrey Ott's 14-8 decision over Penn Gottfried at 125 lbs. No. 10 Steven Keith won by a score of 7-0 against Alec Mooradian at 141 lbs., but he was bookended by close losses by Shay Warren and Todd Preston. Warren dropped a 3-2 decision to Matt Bystol at 133 lbs. and Preston was on the short end of a 1-0 decision against Steve Santos.
No. 8 Walter Peppelman registered a 3-0 decision over Jake O'Hara at 157 lbs. to regain a lead in the team scores, but more importantly Columbia was deducted one team point for bench misconduct. That point deduction ended up being the difference in the meet.
The Lions rattled off three straight wins at 165 lbs., 174 lbs. and 184 lbs. to open their 15-9 advantage. Fox and Gajdzik responded, however, stealing the victory away.
Harvard will now turn its attention towards the 2013 EIWA Championships which will be held March 8-9 on the campus of Rutgers University.
125: Jeffrey Ott (HU) dec. Penn Gottfried (CU), 14-8, 3-0
133: Matt Bystol (CU) dec. Shay Warren (HU), 3-2, 3-3
141: No. 10 Seven Keith (HU) dec. Alec Mooradian (CU), 7-0, 6-3
149: Steve Santos (CU) dec. Todd Preston (HU), 1-0, 6-6
157: No. 8 Walter Peppelman (HU) dec. Jake O'Hara (CU), 3-0, 9-5
* Columbia deducted 1 team point for bench misconduct
165: Josh Houldsworth (CU) maj. dec. Devon Gobbo (HU), 10-1, 9-9
174: Stephen West (CU) dec. Cameron Croy (HU), 4-3, 9-12
184: Drew Rebling (CU) dec. Michael Mocco (HU), 5-2, 9-15
197: James Fox (HU) maj. dec. Nicholas Mills (CU), 11-2, 13-15
HWT: Nicholas Gajdzik (HU) dec. Chris Manna (CU), 2-0, 16-15