Harvard wrestling held its own this past weekend at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas, NV.
In the Crimson's toughest tournament of the season, co-captain Francis Volpe, junior Dawid Rechul, sophomore Max Odom, and freshman Jesse Jantzen proved a formidable match for some of the top wrestlers in the nation.
After coming in fourth at the East Stroudsburg tournament two weeks ago--forfeiting the last match for medical purposes--Volpe was in top form in Vegas, as he captured seventh place in the 184-pound weight class.
Volpe started his domination early, with an 11-7 victory over Chad Grant of Boston University, followed by a tremendous 17-3 win over Portland State's Jeremy Wilson in the second round.
In the quarterfinals, Volpe lost a close 13-10 bout to EIWA No. 1 Rob Rohn of Lehigh, Rohn took fourth at NCAA's last year.
Volpe rallied back, though, winning two of his next three matches in the wrestlebacks to claim seventh in the weight class.
The performances out west and at East Stroudsburg have proven Volpe to be a major threat at both the conference and national level.
At 149-pounds, Jantzen picked up right where he left off at East Stroudsburg, nearly defeating one of the nation's best wrestlers in what was still one of his first college tournaments.
At East Stroudsburg, Jantzen finished a single point short of first place Eric Schmiesing of Hostra, ranked no. 3 in the nation. He also had the most falls of any wrestler in the tournament--3 in 2:48.
This past weekend, Jantzen continued his relentless wrestling, winning his first two matches by falls, the first over North Colorado's Marshall Hahn in 2:46 and the second over Adams State's Travis Koppenhafer in 1:22.
In the second round, Jantzen easily handled Cornell's Gabe Webster, 10-0.
In the quarterfinals, Jantzen faced Lehigh's Dave Esposito, the top-ranked wrestler in the EIWA who placed third at NCAAs last year. In a well-fought match, Esposito was able to pull it out in the end, 6-3.
Esposito would go on to place second in the tournament.
Jantzen next wrestled an extremely tough wrestleback match, losing a tiebreaker to Cedric Hayman of Cal Poly.
At 157-pounds, Odom wrestled a great first tournament, having missed East Stroudsburg due to a preseason injury.
Odom came out strong in the first round, earning a 15-4 major defeat over Lassen's Al Daniels in the first round.
He next lost a heartbreaking 6-5 dual to Nathan Vasquez of Fresno State, but came back in the next two wrestlebacks with a decisive pair of victories over T.J. Huxel of the Air Force (8-4) and Troy Hall of Pacific (9-5).
In his next wrestleback, Odom again wrestled a close bout, but fell short, losing 8-5 to Edinboro's Sahun Shapert. After wrestling in the 149-pound class last year, Odom's solid wrestling throughout the weekend proved he is definitely ready to lead the way at 157-pounds.
After taking second place at East Stroudsburg, Rechul continued to wrestle well at heavyweight, battling to the end with his Vegas opponents.
In the first round, Rechul grappled to a 6-4 victory over Brad Steele of Wyoming, a tough competitor who would wrestleback to place fourth in the tournament.
Despite a strong effort, he lost two close matches to Tommy Rowlands of Ohio State (5-2) and Mike Maben of Cal Davis (3-2).
Vegas gave Reuchel valuable experience against some of the top wrestlers under his belt, which he can use as a springboard for continued domination in his weight class.
Led by these performances, the Crimson finished 23rd at the tournament. Illinois captured the championship, followed by Nebraska and then Lehigh.
The Crimson's next tournament will be the Midlands National Tournament at Northwestern University on December 29th and 30th.