It takes a lot to overshadow a Princeton victory over Harvard in any sport. On Saturday, the Tiger wrestling team did it, and it only needed a few hours to pull it off. Princeton defeated Harvard 19-17, then made the short trip across the city to pull off a comeback that won't be forgotten. Despite trailing 20-3 with only four matches remaining, Princeton stunned Boston University 23-20 to complete a memorable day in Massachusetts.
Saturday's trip through Boston was already assured to be a positive midway through the nightcap against the Terriers. Despite the 17-point deficit to its new EIWA rival, the Tigers had already earned its third straight road win over Harvard for its sixth win of the season.
But then it started to get really interesting. Senior Ryan Callahan completed his perfect day with an 11-2 major decision at 197, which got Princeton within 13 points with three matches remaining. Head coach Chris Ayres, knowing bonus points were mandatory the rest of the way, bumped up his next two starters and inserted freshman Troy Murtha into the lineup at 184.
Murtha didn't show any nerves in his biggest collegiate match, scoring an 11-1 major decision over Aaron Conrad at 184 to get the Tigers within shouting distance with two matches to go. Freshman Brett Harner, who started the season at 174 and is 9-1 since his move to 184, made the move to 197 to face Alex Najjar. Harner was in control throughout, recording three takedowns in the first two periods to open an 8-1 lead. He needed at least a major decision to give Princeton a chance at the team win.
He had bigger plans.
Harner pinned Najjar with 32 seconds remaining in the match to cut the deficit to 20-17 and giving sophomore Abe Ayala the opportunity to play hero. Ayala took on Kevin Innis at 285 and found himself down 2-0 before scoring a pair of escapes and a late takedown in the second period to open a 4-2 lead. A decision would have clinched a tie for the Tigers.
He also had bigger plans.
Ayala locked in a cradle during the final minute and sent his teammates into a frenzy when he pinned Innis with 48 seconds remaining to complete the stunning comeback and earn the Tigers a 23-20 win.
The victory improved Princeton to 7-2 on the season, a mark that included the afternoon 19-17 win over Harvard. The Tigers came back in that match as well, though it would pale in comparison by the end of the day. Following a win for junior Ryan Cash at 125, Princeton dropped the next two matches to trail 8-3.
Junior Adam Krop scored a tech fall at 149 to even the score, and sophomores Kevin Moylan (157) and Judd Ziegler (165) earned back-to-back five-point wins to open a six-point lead. Callahan and Harner clinched the team victory with wins of their own, which helped the Tigers even their Ivy League mark at 1-1 this season.
Princeton will try to go above the .500 mark in the league and cap a memorable weekend when it takes on Brown Sunday at noon. The match will be shown live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
PRINCETON 19, HARVARD 17
125 - Ryan Cash (P) dec. Max Mejia 11-5
133 - Ryan Osleeb (H) tf. Jake Intrator 16-0
141 - Todd Preston (H) dec. Jordan Laster 3-1 (OT)
149 - Adam Krop (P) tf. Nick Stager 18-2
157 - Kevin Moylan (P) dec. Paul Liguori 6-1
165 - Judd Ziegler (P) dec. Tyler Grimaldi 11-6
174 - Ryan Callahan (P) dec. Ian Roy 11-6
184 - Brett Harner (P) dec. Cameron Croy 5-3
197 - James Fox (H) dec. Abe Ayala 16-13^
285 - Nick Gajdzik (H) pinned Dan Santoro 1:30
^ Princeton lost one team point
PRINCETON 23, BOSTON UNIVERSITY 20
125 - Bubba McGinley (BU) major dec. Ryan Cash 12-0
133 - Dane Harlowe (BU) pinned Jake Intrator 1:59
141 - Tyler Scotton (BU) dec. Jordan Laster 9-5
149 - Adam Krop (P) dec. Nick Tourville 10-7
157 - Nestor Taffur (BU) major dec. Kevin Moylan 12-2
165 - Mitchell Wightman (BU) dec. Judd Ziegler 3-1
174 - Ryan Callahan (P) major dec. Colin Saunders 11-2
184 - Troy Murtha (P) major dec. Aaron Conrad 11-1
197 - Brett Harner (P) pinned Alex Najjar 6:28
285 - Abe Ayala (P) pinned Kevin Innis 6:12