The Boston University wrestling team had to climb four flights of stairs to get to where it would face Harvard University on Jan. 30 ‘- little did the Terriers know their weekend would be a similar up and down affair.
BU (3-10-1, 2-3 CAA) began the weekend by earning a decisive 35-15 victory over the Crimson in Cambridge, winning two duals in a row (the other being a 29-16 win over Sacred Heart University on Jan. 23) for the first time this season. With the win, BU secured the Charles Cup, a newly dedicated award for the winner of the team’s annual meeting, named after the river that separates the institutions.
‘The competition between Harvard and BU is a friendly and yet intense competition to see who is the best Division I team in Massachusetts,’ said BU coach Carl Adams, when describing the reason for creating the cup.
BU dropped consecutive duals the next day at Shenendehowa High School against Colonial Athletic Association foe Binghamton University, and Ithaca College, by scores of 38-6 and 28-6, respectively.
The Terriers looked poised and focused against Harvard. Sophomore Freddy Santaite, senior Abbie Rush and defending CAA Rookie of the Week Nestor Taffur earned three consecutive falls, and after four matches, BU led 18-4.
‘[Nestor’s] just now figured out over the last three weeks that he’s really good,’ Adams said. ‘We had a conversation about three weeks ago [about how] everyone should strive to be 20 to 30 percent better than their best match. A lot of guys bought into that.
‘If you’re working hard and you’re wrestling every second of the match, and you’re trying to wrestle as hard and as smart as you can, then that’s all, as a coach, I can ask.’
The next match paired sophomore Andrew Swank with two-time All-American senior J.P. O’Connor. Due to injuries, Swank, who usually wrestles at the 149-pound weight class, found himself wrestling in the 157-pound match against one of Harvard’s star players. While O’Connor dictated the match, Swank resisted surrendering a pin multiple times and instead lost by technical fall, saving BU a point.
Harvard did not score again except by forfeit at 184-pounds, again a result of BU’s injuries.
‘We have really good momentum going at this point,’ said Adams after the match. ‘We have six starters out of the lineup, [and] the guys are really picking up slack.’
The Terriers lost whatever momentum they had leaving Cambridge the next day in New York.
Against Binghamton, senior Ryan Buff, now 6-0 after returning from an injury, tied the score at three in the 133-pound match, and Rush’s decision at 141 gave BU a short-lived lead. However, the Bearcats promptly pulled away with a technical fall and two pins. BU would go on to forfeit two of the remaining matches in anticipation of the second dual against Ithaca.
BU again started strong with a decision by sophomore Ryan Dowd at 125 to open the dual, but decisions against the trio that had consecutive pins just the day before-Santaite, Rush and Taffur-put the Terriers in a difficult position.
Unlike in the Binghamton dual, the Terriers’ match against Ithaca featured eight of ten matches decided by four points or less. The terriers won only two of the eight.
‘We just need to look at mistakes that have been made,’ said Adams. ‘For matches that are lost by one to two points, it means a wrestler had a chance to win that match.’
Adams justified his team’s struggles by referencing challenges in filling its roster.
‘The biggest reason for the losses is that we don’t have [all of our starters] in the lineup,’ he said. ‘If you take them out of the mix or put them in the mix it’s a whole different ball game. Having said that, injuries are part of what we do. And we still, no matter what, have to be the best that we can.
‘Our goal is to have a good conference tournament, and to qualify one or two kids for the national tournament. It’s a goal that’s going to be tough to hit, but that is why you lay everything on the line.’
BU returns to action against Princeton University at Case Gymnasium Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.