As an indoor sport, wrestling tends to avoid the ills of winter weather. But sometimes Mother Nature intervenes anyway.
The Harvard wrestling team sent three competitors to the 2010 Midland Championships in Evanston, Ill., this past week, leaving behind junior co-captain Walter Peppelman, whose flight to Chicago was cancelled due to snow storms. The grapplers who did make it to the two-day tournament at Northwestern—junior Corey Jantzen, sophomore Steven Keith, and freshman Cameron Croy—had an average showing, posting 2-2 records in their respective brackets.
Keith had the best first day of the Crimson wrestlers, jumping out of the gate with a pair of victories to open the tournament. Keith (125 lbs.), the seventh seed, dominated Illinois’ Logan Arlis in his first bout, 11-0, and earned a 6-2 decision over Joe Roth of Central Michigan to reach the quarterfinals. Unfortunately for the Harvard standout, his next match featured No. 2 seed and eventual-champion Brandon Precin. An upset victory once again eluded Keith, who fell to the Northwestern star, 6-2.
Keith never seemed to recover from his taxing loss, as the sophomore dropped his first consolation bout to Rutgers’ Matt Fusco. The 4-1 decision knocked Keith out of the tournament and off the podium.
But the young standout was not the only grappler to leave Illinois disappointed. Jantzen (149), seeded third entering the tournament, suffered a shocking 4-3 defeat in his first bout that ended his chance at a placement before it really got going. Jantzen’s opponent was no stranger to big matches, though, as Case Western’s Isaac Dukes earned a Division III national championship last March. The experienced grappler made a run all the way to the quarterfinals after dispatching his Crimson foe.
Jantzen showed resolve with a pair of wrestleback victories, but Oklahoma’s Nick Lester ended the junior’s tournament with an 11-4 victory.
Harvard’s final representative Croy (184) continued his challenging rookie campaign, as the first-year grappler faced another high-seeded opponent to open a tournament. Croy fell, 9-1, to No. 5 seed Dan Rinaldi of Rutgers, but he too fought back in consolation matches. The rookie earned the first fall of his career by pinning Bucknell’s Rob Waltko in 7:16, and Croy followed up with a 7-2 decision over Scott Elliott of South Dakota State. Despite the strong effort, Croy also watched his day end short of the medal stand, when Lehigh’s Kadeem Samuels notched a 6-2 decision en route to a seventh-place finish.
Although none of the Crimson grapplers enjoyed much individual success at the competitive Midland Championships, the team will have an opportunity to test its collective strength when Harvard returns to dual action against Rutgers on Jan. 7.