Princeton wrestling traveled to New England this weekend to kick off their Ivy League conference schedule with matches against Harvard and Brown. The team split the decisions, earning a 21-16 win against Harvard but falling 17-15 to Brown.
Princeton began the weekend with a dual meet at Harvard, in which the Tigers earned their first road victory of the season. Princeton and Harvard each won five of the 10 matches, but Princeton earned the victory due to bonus points granted for several more convincing victories. In the 133-pound weight class, first-year Jonathan Gomez fell behind early to Harvard’s Ryan Friedman but managed to pin Friedman early in the 3rd period and earn six points for Princeton. Also victorious for Princeton were sophomore Matthew Kolodzik, who won a 10-1 major decision at 149, senior Jonathan Schleifer, who won another major decision 14-4 at 165, first-year Patrick Brucki, who won a 22-8 major decision at 197, and sophomore Leonard Merkin, who won a closely contested 6-4 decision at 157. Meanwhile, four of Princeton’s five losses on the day came by simple decisions — sophomore Kevin Parker and senior Michael Markulec both lost by just one point. This differential allowed Princeton to end the match with a 21-16 margin.
Princeton traveled to Providence the following day to compete in a Sunday dual. As with Saturday’s matches, Princeton earned five out of 10 victories. This time, however, the major decisions went Brown’s way, allowing the Bears to squeak by with a victory. Brown took a 10-3 lead early in the match. Gomez lost a major decision 12-4 and Kolodzik, ranked 10th in the 149-weight class, suffered his first ever loss in Ivy League play to Brown’s Zach Krause. The deficit left Princeton struggling to come from behind for the rest of the match. Merkin and Schleifer earned a pair of decisions at 157 and 165 respectively to cut the deficit to 10-9. However, sophomore Matthew Gancayo lost a major decision 13-5, and Parker lost a 10-6 decision, giving Brown a 17-9 lead. This left Princeton’s final two wrestlers, Brucki and senior Ian Baker, needing to score some extra points to give Princeton a chance at the win. Both won their matches, but neither was able to secure the necessary pin or major decision. Baker defeated Tucker Ziegler in a 5-2 decision at 197, and Brucki defeated Ian Butterbrodt in a 4-1 decision in the heavyweight category. Thus, the comeback fell short as Brown secured a narrow 17-15 win.
Having wrestled well against a pair of tough Ivy League opponents, the Tigers will look to continue to improve as it moves into the thick of their Ivy League schedule and prepares for its postseason tournaments. The team returns home this weekend to face another pair of Ivy League foes, Columbia and Cornell, on Friday and Saturday, respectively.