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Ogunwole Impresses In NCAA Tournament Debut

By Evan R. Johnson, Crimson Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS—If Jesse Jantzen stole the show Saturday night at the NCAA tournament, then freshman heavyweight Bode Ogunwole should at least be charged with shoplifting.

In his first tournament appearance and with just 22 collegiate matches under his belt, Ogunwole pulled off two upset wins, advancing all the way to the quarterfinals.

Sophomore Max Meltzer (141 lbs.) and co-captain Reggie Lee (197 lbs.) didn’t have quite as exciting performances, finishing a combined 1-3 in the tourney.


Ogunwole ended the season with an appearance in the Elite Eight and a 16-10 overall record, an incredible performance for someone who hadn’t even earned the starting role until junior Jonas Corl went down with a season-ending knee injury against Lehigh—which finished tied for third in the weekend’s championships—on Jan. 31.

Ogunwole’s run is made all the more impressive considering that he is still just a freshman and only lost his quarterfinal match by a score of 8-6 to the eventual champion, Ohio State’s No. 1 Tommy Rowlands. That was also Rowlands’ closest match, as he went on to beat Penn State’s No. 2 Pat Cummins in the finals 6-2.

Ogunwole then lost in overtime in the wrestlebacks to Iowa State’s No. 12 Scott Coleman—who went on to take eighth place and All-American Status.

“I was actually surprised,” Harvard coach Jay Weiss said. “I shouldn’t say surprised, but I just thought he was going to win that last match by the way he wrestled.”

Ogunwole’s first two bouts came against No. 9 Russ Davie and No. 8 Clinton Walbeck, who he upset by scores of 2-0 and 3-2, respectively.

“He wrestled awesome,” Meltzer said. “It’s phenomenal because he’s only getting better.”

And though Ogunwole was not pleased with his performance, he can take solace in the fact that teammate and 2004 149-lb. national champion Jesse Jantzen was not an All-American his freshman year, either, finishing with only one more win than Ogunwole.

“He’s a little bummed out, upset about his performance and not winning,” Lee said. “He should be on the podium come next year or year after.”


Meltzer entered the weekend ranked 13th in the country—the only Harvard wrestler besides Jantzen with a national ranking—and seemed to be Harvard’s second-best shot at becoming an All-American.

Instead, he finished the tournament with just one win, ending his season with a 34-10 record.

“I would have like to have done better and placed,” Meltzer said. “I’m a little disappointed with my last my match. I don’t think I wrestled as good as I could have.”

Meltzer’s one win of the weekend came in the opening round against Bloomsburg’s Scott Heckman, and ended in a 5-3 decision for Meltzer. In his second match against No. 4 Scott Mester of Central Michigan—who, appropriately enough, finished in fourth place—ended in a 5-4 decision for Mester.

Meltzer capped off his NCAA tournament in the consolation rounds, losing to Lehigh’s Cory Cooperman by a technical fall at the 6:46 mark of the match. Meltzer had lost to the Mountain Hawk 6-1 when they met earlier in the year.

“He’s a tough guy,” Lee said. “I hope he takes this for what its worth, learn from it, and get better.”


In his first and last NCAA tournament appearance, Lee exited quickly, losing his first and only two matches in the first day of competition.

In his initial bout he lost to Ohio’s Joe Weimer 3-1 and then dropped a 3-2 decision to Missouri’s Jeff Foust. Neither of those two wrestlers placed at NCAAs, and would exit before the fourth round held Friday evening.

“It didn’t turn out like I wanted to, but I’m just happy to be here,” Lee said.

—Staff writer Evan R. Johnson can be reached at

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