Competing without four regulars, the Harvard wrestling team split a pair of Ivy League matchups this weekend.
The Crimson (6-6, 2-2 Ivy) rushed out to a 28-0 lead to steamroll Columbia on Friday, and then watched as Cornell turned an 18-0 advantage into a 28-12 victory on Saturday.
The undermanned Harvard squad, though, refused to dwell on the loss.
“We knew going into Cornell that it was going to be tough [with the missing players],” said freshman Joe Turilli. “We are better than the score showed.”
The Crimson wrestled without injured junior Reggie Lee, sophomores Brandon Kaufmann and P.J. Jones, who were suffering the after-effects of eating from the Dunster and Mather kitchens. Freshman Jon Mankovich was also sick.
The most dominating wrestler on the New York swing was sophomore Jesse Jantzen. Jantzen, currently ranked No. 5 in the nation and No. 1 in the EIWA at 149 lbs., pinned the Lions’ Matt Pierce in 0:55 on Friday before crushing the Big Red’s Chris Pirch 17-0 in 4:41 on Saturday. The victories raised Jantzen’s season mark to 27-2.
“I actually wrestled a back-up guy,” Jantzen said after pinning Pierce. “One of their top guys [sophomore Eric Norgaard] didn’t wrestle. If he was on the mat it would have been a little tougher.”
The other two Harvard wrestlers to sweep their weekend matches were co-captains Kevin El-Hayek and Dawid Rechul, the NCAA’s No. 12 ranked heavyweight.
With the exception of Lee, the full Crimson lineup should wrestle this weekend as the team gets its final warmup for the EIWA tournament beginning March 9.
“Some of the dual meets we’ve lost—Penn and Cornell—aren’t reflective of the way we’ve wrestled,” Jantzen said. “We should be in a good position to defend our title.”
Harvard will next compete on Saturday, when it travels to Brown at 12 p.m. and BU at 7 p.m for its final dual-meets of the season.
Cornell 28, Harvard 12
A strong showing by the Crimson’s stars wasn’t enough, as Harvard wrestled away only three matches from the Big Red (6-3, 4-1) at Teagle Hall on Saturday. The win put Cornell alone in second place in the Ivy standings, behind No. 8 Penn.
Cornell seized an early lead, winning the first four bouts of the day, each of which featured a nationally-ranked Big Red wrestler. But down 18-0, the Crimson made a later surge, winning 12 of the last 22 points on victories by Rechul, El-Hayek and Jantzen.
Rechul won the heavyweight match with a 10-2 major decision over Matt Bogumil, and El-Hayek picked up three points for the Crimson on a 2-1 decision over Alejandro Alvarez at 133 lbs.
In the day’s first match, junior Patrick O’Donnell almost pulled out an upset for Harvard in the 165-lb. weight class, before falling 3-2 to No. 17 Scott Roth. Cornell’s No. 9 Clint Wattenberg picked up a forfeit victory at 184 lbs. due to the injury of junior Reggie Lee.
Harvard 34, Columbia 9
The Crimson dropped only two matches, one coming by forfeit, as Harvard overpowered the host Lions (5-6, 1-3) at Levien Gym on Friday.
Junior David Germakian started the day with a 6-5 decision over Dan Green at 125 lbs., the first of seven consecutive victories for Harvard. Three of the victories came on pins, as Jantzen, junior Robbie Griffin and Rechul all earned falls.
Griffin pinned Dustin Tilman in 2:46 to take the 157-lb. weight class and Rechul wrapped up the meet by pinning Bart Seemen in 2:03.
Turilli also had a strong showing, posting an 11-0 victory over Arash Najafi at 141 lbs.
“I had a good week of practicing leading up to [the match],” Turilli said. “I just went out and did the moves I’ve been practicing. I dominated him.”
The Lions only victories came on a Mike Gerstl 7-6 decision over freshman Jonas Corl at 197 lbs. and a Harvard forfeit at 184 lbs.