Harvard wrestling’s Todd Preston has seen no shortage of tough competition.
The sophomore has matched up against some of the top wrestlers in the country in several tournaments. However, even with this experience under his belt, the toughest match of Preston’s career took place entirely off the mats.
A bout with appendicitis kept the 141-pound 2014 EIWA Champion and 2014 NCAA Championships quarterfinalist away from competition for half of his rookie season.
Having missed several key matches, Preston finished out the year with a record of 3-5.
“As a freshman, he went through a lot,” Harvard coach Jay Weiss said. “Last fall semester, if you had told me he would be an EIWA champ, I’d have told you you’re crazy, just because of what he was going through.”
Preston came back with a vengeance his sophomore year, posting a 25-10 record for the Crimson.
“My health put a huge damper on my freshman season,” Preston said. “But in the end, it was a blessing in disguise. I was able to focus on areas where I needed to focus, and it gave me the time to figure out how to achieve my goals.”
After a solid performance at the Midlands Championship, Preston found his stride. The sophomore registered five consecutive victories at the very start of the season and recorded a 12-match winning streak following his victory in a tough bout against Boston University’s Tyler Scotton.
“He’s one of the hardest workers on the team,” Weiss said. “We knew how talented he was, but he made some mental and physical adjustments, and constantly got better.”
The highlight of Preston’s season, however, came at its conclusion. With a consistently solid performance at the EIWA Championships, Preston advanced to the finals.
He maintained his composure in a whirlwind matchup against Hofstra’s Luke Vaith to claim the crown in a tiebreaker for the Crimson.
“I really think it was the mental adjustment,” Weiss said. “He stopped worrying about a lot of things.”
It was Preston’s ability to move on from last season’s disappointments that served him well in the season-ending tournaments.
“In any sport, you have to have a short term memory, and Todd really did that going into the EIWA Championship,” Weiss said. “I knew it was going to be a good tournament for him because he was in that mindset, and that was fun to watch.”
From there, Preston continued on to the NCAA Tournament. He advanced to the quarterfinals before being eliminated.
“I really stopped setting expectations for myself and stopped putting pressure on myself,” Preston said. “That has made the sport so much more enjoyable for me, and that’s really what it’s all about.”
—Staff writer Jillian Dukes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.