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AOTW: Jantzen Muscles Way To Top...Again

By Evan R. Johnson, Crimson Staff Writer

For most athletes, winning their conference championship is a time to celebrate and reflect on the season’s success. Of course, making program history makes that reaction even more natural.

But then again, most athletes aren’t like the wrestling team’s No. 1 co-captain and 149 lb. Jesse Jantzen.

“I’ll have time after the season to think about those things,” Jantzen said.

Of course, this cool demeanor fits a man who has already won the EIWA championship—twice. This third trip to the podium set a record for the Crimson program, which has never had a three-peat league champion or sent some to the NCAA tournament on four occasions.

Jantzen’s accomplishments also garnered him the John Fletcher award, given to the EIWA wrestler who has picked up the most career points.

Still, Jantzen insisted that what he did was really not all that special.

“Once you win it once you kind of expect to repeat,” Jantzen said.

Co-captain Reggie Lee (197 lbs.) echoed the sentiments that Jantzen is more than just your everyday, run-of-the-mill athlete.

“I don’t know of anybody on campus who says they work hard that can compare to him,” Lee said. “I’ve seen in a lot of athletes in my lifetime and I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as he does.”

Like in almost all of his matches this year, Jantzen cruised past the competition en route to the victory circle. In his first match against Penn’s Rob Hitschler, Jantzen pinned him in 1:23 for his tenth of the year.

Jantzen then steamrolled past Columbia’s Erik Norgaard, who was seeded eighth in the tourney, 13-0. This was the first time that Jantzen got a chance to face Norgaard, who wrestled up a weight class against in the team’s dual meet against the Lions, earning a decision over freshman Bobby Latessa.

From there, Jantzen moved to the semifinals where he met a familiar foe—Lehigh’s Matt Anderson, who got the four seed in the tournament. Though Jantzen had defeated him 10-1 earlier in the year, Anderson greatly inhibited Jantzen’s movement during the third period in that match, when he used his long frame to lock up Jantzen to prevented him from getting out from the bottom position for much of the period. This match proved less frustrating, however, as Jantzen won it 7-4 with his next stop in the finals.

“Going into the EIWAs its definetly beneficial to [know your opponents],” Harvard coach Jay Weiss said.

Jantzen knew that in his final match of the weekend he would be facing an old opponent again—whether it was Cornell’s No. 5 Dustin Manotti, who Jantzen beat 9-2, or Brown’s No. 17 David Dies, who lost to Jantzen 6-5 last time.

Dies ended up winning the match 1-0, forcing the championship bout between him and Jantzen. Having been well prepared for the tournament, Jantzen already knew Dies’ style of wrestling well and used this knowledge against him to win the match 5-2. Jantzen only allowed the second place finisher to score points on an escape and a stalling call.

“[Dies] is a little funky,” Weiss said. “Going into the match it’s going to help to have film of anyone.”

With the victory over Dies, Jantzen found himself in the winners circle, breaking many records along the way. Though he had won the Outstanding Wrestler award in 2002, Jantzen has now passed three former Crimson wrestlers—Dawid Rechul ’02, Matt Picarsic ’01 and Dustin Denunzio ’99, all of whom had won two individual championships—as the most successful wrestler at the EIWAs.

“To actually put into words what he has done, I mean compared to what anyone else has done at Harvard or even in the nation, he’s up there at the top,” Lee said. “The kid is relentless.”

And with just two weeks to prepare for the NCAA tournament, a time frame in which Jantzen has finished in third the past two years, he has become more focused then ever. Maybe if he completes his longtime goal and secures a national championship he’ll open up and start to celebrate a bit more. But then again, maybe he won’t. After all, he’s not your everyday athlete.

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