Crimson Grapplers Bag Three Weekend W's

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Jessica S. Lin

After a slow start to the season, the Harvard wrestling team put up its most impressive performance yet this weekend, recording three comeback victories against Boston University, Brown, and Franklin & Marshall. This weekend also marked the Crimson’s home debut at the Malkin Athletic Center.

Harvard wrestled without the services of two of its tri-captains this weekend—Bode Ogunwole, who is sidelined for the rest of the season due to a triceps tear, and Robbie Preston, who hurt his knee during practice on Wednesday but is expected back by next weekend. The Crimson, however, managed to display the depth of its lineup with dominating wins in the middle weight classes to capture three straight victories.

Harvard (5-6) improved to 4-3 in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) and 2-1 in the Ivy League. The team will remain at home next weekend to face national powerhouse Cornell along with Columbia and Bucknell before the EIWA Championships commence in March.


Without Preston to anchor the top of the lineup, Harvard quickly found itself in the hole after losing the first two bouts.

The Crimson went on a run spearheaded by tri-captain Max Meltzer, as victories by freshman J. P. O’Connor (149), junior Bobby Latessa (157), and junior Matt Button (164) gave the team a commanding lead. After sophomore Patrick Ziemnik lost at 174, a forfeit at 184 put Harvard up 21-12. Junior Jonathan Butler recorded a hard-fought victory at 197 before freshman Andrew Knapp lost by a major decision to finish the day.

“With Bode out, we had to move on,” Meltzer said. “For Robbie, we knew it was a temporary thing, but everyone on the team had to pick up the slack. I knew that through the middle [weight classes] we should be able to get a lot of wins, so I just made sure I started it off in the right direction and built the momentum.”

“Bode is going to be sorely missed,” Meltzer added. “But this actually helps the guys realize that each competition and each year is not guaranteed. As we saw with Bode, you need to take advantage of every opportunity you get, and the guys picked it up because Bode is watching.”


In its first dual match of the season at home, the Crimson recovered from a 12-0 deficit to win seven straight bouts, recording its second straight victory on the weekend.

Brown (2-10, 1-2 Ivy) fell to fifth in the Ivy standings, while Harvard tied Columbia for second. Meltzer, ranked 16th in the nation, put the Crimson on track with a 5-4 double-overtime victory over Mark Savino at 141. No. 6 O’Connor followed and quickly put his opponent in the hole, 12-1, before the Brown wrestler was disqualified for stalling. Sophomore Andrew Flanagan, ranked ninth in the nation, evened the score at 12 with a 7-1 win at 157.

Harvard continued to dominate as Button and Rowsey added three points each for the Crimson. Sophomore Louis Caputo (174) put the match out of reach with a 15-0 technical fall in 6:00, and Butler capped the streak with a 16-3 major decision.



In its last dual match on the road this season, the Crimson fought back from a 10-0 deficit to defeat Boston University at Case Gym Friday night.

Freshman Ryan Fitzgerald was pinned at 125, and sophomore Simon Orozco suffered a major decision at 133 before Harvard won the next seven bouts. Meltzer took his match 8-5, while O’Connor pulled off a tough victory over Mike Roberts, 3-2.

“He came right out there and took it to me,” O’Connor said. “I had to wrestle from behind, got a few escapes, and grinded it out for the win. Sometimes it’s important to know you can win even when you don’t wrestle as well as you can.”

Flanagan added three more points to the team score, and Latessa put the Crimson on top with a major decision. Rowsey added six points with a win by fall in 4:06, and Caputo followed by recording a technical fall. Butler finished the run with a win by decision before Orey Hall of BU took the heavyweight match, 4-3, over Knapp.

—Staff writer Tony D. Qian can be reached at



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