Jentzen Carries Wrestling at Midlands National Tourney

Grapplers prepare for showdown with No. 2, No. 3-ranked teams at Lone Star Duels

Three Harvard wrestlers competed at the Midlands National Tournament in Evanston, Ill. last weekend, earning a 25th-place finish for the Crimson out of the 61 teams participating.

Harvard is now ranked first in the New England All-Division poll and fourth in the more recent EIWA poll.

Sophomore Jesse Jantzen, ranked fourth nationally in the latest Amateur Wrestling News Poll and seeded fifth for the tournament, took sixth place in the 149-lb. class after forfeiting his matches in the consolation rounds due to a knee injury suffered earlier in the tournament. He is, however, expected to wrestle tomorrow.

Jantzen fell to top-seeded Jared Lawrence of Minnesota in a 4-0 semifinal. Lawrence, ranked third nationally, was defeated 5-2 by Mike Zadick of Iowa in the final.

Prior to his loss, Jantzen won three matches to earn his place in the semifinal round, including a 5-0 win over fourth-seeded Mike Mendoza of Schultz WC.

Co-captain Dawid Rechul earned tournament recognition with the most falls in the least time with two in 2:51 during his matches in the 285-lb. class. Rechul, ranked fourteenth in the nation, took down Dathon Miller of Lassen in 1:09, but lost to Lassen’s Kellan Fluckiger 9-5 in the next match of the championship rounds.

“It’s a very difficult tournament because it’s an open tournament,” Rechul said. “I thought I was physically prepared for that challenge. I had almost the same problem I’ve been having all season, which is focusing the tools and the artillery I have on winning the match—doing the right thing at the right time.”

In the consolation rounds, Rechul racked up 15 points in 3:35 on Matt Kenny of North Carolina to earn a technical fall. Peter Ziminski of Eastern Illinois then fell in 1:42, giving Rechul his second fall of the day. But third-seeded Raphael Davis of Schultz WC beat Rechul 14-3 in the next round.

Junior Pat O’Donnell lost 11-3 to Penn’s fourth-seeded John Henson in the first round in the 165-lb. class, and then 13-1 to Jed Pennell of Oregon State in the consolation rounds.

Among other wrestlers who kept busy during the break, freshman Joseph Turilli was selected by his hometown of North Kingstown, R.I. to carry the Olympic torch for three-tenths of a mile in Providence.

Junior Robbie Griffin earned honors as the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Wilkes Open last week after winning the 157 lb. class and tallying three falls for the tournament.

After registering tournament experience, the Crimson travels to Dallas, Texas where it battles No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Oklahoma, and Wyoming tomorrow in the Lonestar Duals, the dual-season opener.

“I have the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked kids in the nation so this is where I want to be,” co-captain Kevin El-Hayek said. “It’s a very good gauge mid-season for where I am.”

Between the three teams, Harvard wrestlers will face at least one of the top-ranked wrestlers in the nation in every weight class.

“Teamwise, with No. 2 and No. 3 in country, there’s going to be a lot of top ten kids,” El-Hayek said. “Any time you knock off a top ten kid, it really boosts confidence and we definitely have a chance to do that here.”

At the Lonestar Duals last year, O’Donnell pulled an incredible upset by defeating Iowa State’s Joe Heskett, the nation’s top-ranked wrestler in the 165-lb. class. Heskett had held the top standing for almost all of the past two years and had a perfect 16-0 record before his loss to O’Donnell in overtime.

So paper rankings aside, the Crimson enters its first dual meet optimistic about its abilities as a team.

“This is the first time we’re competing as a team,” Rechul said. “Even though the nature of wrestling is that it’s an individual sport at a given time, I feel like our team has built such a bond throughout the last few months—we can come together as a team and do things that aren’t supposed to go our way.”