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Wrestling hosts strong Columbia squad, travels to Sacred Heart

The wrestling team will look to continue its strong performance and build upon its three-match win streak this weekend, as the Tigers (8-2 overall, 2-1 Ivy League) take on Columbia at home on Friday night and square off Sunday against Sacred Heart on the road. A win against Columbia would clinch Princeton’s winning record in Ivy League competition, and an additional win on Sunday would make the team a winner of seven of its last eight matches.

A tough Columbia lineup will be coming to Dillon Gymnasium Friday night, with hopes to handle Princeton in the same easy manner that it did last year, when the Lions blew past the Tigers in a 30-7 win in New York. Columbia (6-4, 0-1) rides in on a hot streak, as the Lions have won five of their last six matches. In addition, their only loss came last Saturday at the hand of No. 4 Cornell, and even then the Lions were even with the Big Red 15-15 with only two bouts remaining in the match. The 21-15 loss to Cornell marked the most points that any Columbia team has scored against Cornell in 23 years.

But the looks of Friday’s match will be quite different from that of last year’s. Four of Columbia’s eight wrestlers who recorded victories in last year’s dual against Princeton have now graduated. And two of the four that Princeton will not be seeing this time around are Steve Santos and Jake O’Hara, who were nationally ranked at No. 6 and No. 18, respectively, at the time of last year’s match. The additional year of experience that sophomore starters Kevin Moylan, Judd Ziegler and Abram Ayala have garnered put the Tigers in a much better position against Columbia this time around. The additional depth of freshmen will also be an advantage for the Tigers: Brett Harner has already won 22 matches this year, and with one more win Jordan Laster will join the 20-win club for the season.

The Tigers should have an easier time on Sunday afternoon, when they travel up to Fairfield, Conn., to take on Sacred Heart (2-8). The Pioneers, who have not won a dual match since Jan. 18, have dropped their last three duals by margins of 26 points or more. Considering the Pioneers only forfeited one match in last weekend’s loss to Bucknell, it appears that Sacred Heart should put up a better fight this year against the Tigers. It was only one year ago that Sacred Heart forfeited an astonishing five of 10 weight classes during last year’s 22-4 loss at Princeton. However, the Tigers will not overlook Sacred Heart’s apparent weakness, as they head into the second-to-last weekend of regular season competition.

The Tigers face off against Columbia at 7 p.m. in Dillon Gymnasium on Friday night. Match time against Sacred Heart is set for noon in Fairfield on Sunday.

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