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Shorthanded Wrestling Oudueled at Lone Star

By Allison D. Bates, Contributing Writer

Injuries forced Harvard wrestling to begin its dual-meet season focused on individual performances, not team scores. Despite notable showings by both up-and-comers and veteran stars, the Crimson lost all four of its matches at the Lone Star Duals on Jan. 3.

Still, the weekend was not without its highlights.

Maintaining his role as the team’s standout, co-captain Jesse Jantzen’s performance was the high note for Harvard. Ranked first in the country, Jantzen won all four of his matches against some of his toughest competition this season and earned the honor of Outstanding Wrestler of the day. This was the first match of the season in which Jantzen went down to his normal class of 149 after wrestling at 157 earlier this season.

Co-captain Reggie Lee was also tough on the mats, winning three of his four matches. No. 19 Max Meltzer won two of his three bouts, earning his only loss in a 2-1 defeat to Michigan’s No. 12 Clarke Forward.

Injuries and the unexpected bout with strep throat for the Crimson’s P.J. Jones, who wrestles in the 174 weight class, caused Harvard to change its game plan.

“We had to focus on individual battles,” Crimson coach Jay Weiss said. “We really fought through the day.”

The grueling four-meet day began with Harvard’s strong performance against No. 21 Wisconsin. Meltzer, Lee, Jantzen and junior heavyweight Jonas Carl won their bouts, with senior Max Odom narrowly losing his 14-13.

But the Crimson lost the meet 27-13. The contest would likely have been much closer had Harvard not needed to forfeit in two weight classes. With no wrestlers in the 174- and 184-lb. weight classes, the Crimson began every meet that day down at least 12 points.

A narrow 22-20 loss to Utah Valley State followed. Jantzen wrestled up for the contest at 157, pinning his opponent at 3:31. Meltzer, in the 141. as well as freshman heavyweight Bode Ogunwole earned four team points each, defeating their opponents in major decisions. Seniors Brandon Kaufmann at 165 and Lee at 197 also garnered wins.

Taking on its strongest team so far this season, the Crimson fell to No. 6 Michigan 43-6. The tough meet was further complicated by the fact that Harvard was forced to forfeit three weight classes—Kaufmann wrestled down at 157—earning the Wolverines 18 points. Harvard’s only points came from Jantzen, who pinned No. 7 Ryan Churella at 4:35. The decisive victory against such a strong opponent was a big one for Jantzen.

“Jesse mauled the kid,” said Weiss. “He was winning by seven points before he even pinned him.”

The Crimson concluded the Duals with a 35-12 loss to Northern Illinois. Again Harvard forfeited at the 165, 174 and 184 weight classes. Jantzen pinned No. 20 Josh Wooton in 1:49, while Lee and Ogunwole earned decision wins.

“I’m proud of the team,” Weiss said. “We didn’t let the injuries affect us in a negative way. This will pay dividends in the long run.”

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