Jantzen Places First in Las Vegas

Even in Las Vegas, Jesse Jantzen was the surest bet in town.

Currently ranked No. 8 in the country, the Harvard sophomore wrestler won the 149-pound weight class at this weekend’s Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas.

Jantzen shut out West Virginia’s Billy Smith in the finals, 6-0 and has now won his last three tournaments.

Harvard had another ace up its sleeve in co-captain Dawid Rechul, who finished fourth in the heavyweight class after losing to eventual champion Kevin Hoy of Airforce, 7-3 in the semi-finals and 5-3 to Wyoming’s Brad Steele in the consolations.

Rechul is currently ranked 12th in the country in the top weigfht division.

In other individual efforts, Juniors Reggie Lee (184 lbs.) and Pat O’Donell (165 lbs.) both lost in the second round.

Overall, Harvard finished 13th in a field of 20 with 59 points.

Michigan, West Virginia and Lehigh took the top three spots.

Janzten’s route to the finals was relatively smooth. He pinned his first round opponent in 40 seconds, and then pinned Jordan Barich of Oregon State in the second round after 2:38.

He crushed LeHigh’s Mike Pirozzola 9-1 in the quarters and decisively defeated ASU’s Eric Larkin in the semis, 8-4. Larkin is the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the nation at 141 lbs.

Down 4-2 to Larkin going in to the second period, Jantzen never lost his poise. Larkin chose the bottom position, playing right into Jantzen’s hands. Jantzen turned Larkin twice before the match was over for the 8-4 win.

In the finals, Jantzen was in total control as Smith did not come close to scoring.

“He’s just head and shoulders above his opponents,” Harvard Coach Jay Weiss said.

Jantzen allowed only five points all tournament. He is now a perfect 14-0 this season, and Weiss beleives Jantzen should be ranked about fourth or fifth in the nation.

Rechul’s trip to the city of sin was more disappointing.

“I beat [Hoy] in the nationals last year,” Rechul said. “I broke mentally—there was a lot of pressure on me.”