Wrestling Leaves Mats Winless

Harvard ties Bucknell but loses to Cornell and Columbia

King of Caput
Meghan T. Purdy

Sophomore Louis Caputo won all three of his matches this weekend. The 184-lb. wrestler upset No. 13 Justin Barent of Columbia, but Harvard still stumbled to a 27-16 loss at the Malkin Athletic Center.

Although the results this weekend were disappointing for the Crimson, they did little to dampen Harvard’s optimism as it prepares for the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) championships in two weeks.

“Now is where the fun really begins,” freshman J. P. O’Connor said. “This is what we trained for all year. The most important part of our season is just beginning.”

After losing matches to both Cornell and Columbia this weekend and earning a tie against Bucknell, the Crimson limps off the mat to a much-needed respite before the conference championships begin on March 2 at East Stroudsburg.

In all three matches, Harvard held back tri-captain Robbie Preston and sophomore Andrew Flanagan, both recovering from minor injuries, to ensure they can be as healthy as possible for the conference tournament.

Despite being shorthanded, however, the Crimson wrestled with impressive intensity.

“We weren’t intimidated and we were the ones pushing the action,” tri-captain Max Meltzer said.

Harvard (5-8-1, 2-3 Ivy) will enter the tourney with a 4-5-1 EIWA record.

“For the next two weeks,” Meltzer said, “we’re going to focus on individualized workouts. We’ve done the hard work, and now it’s time to get ready to get wins in the conference and nationals.”


Already missing tri-captain Bode Ogunwole for the season, and without Preston and Flanagan, the Crimson managed to record five wins against Bucknell to earn a hard-fought tie in the last of its dual meets late Saturday afternoon.

Bucknell took an early 12-0 lead, but Meltzer, in his last home match, began a run of four straight wins for Harvard by getting a 14-5 major decision at 141.

“The weekend was very emotional for me,” Meltzer said. “I hesitated at certain points and didn’t take advantage of scoring opportunities, but against Bucknell I opened up and wrestled the way I should.”

No. 6 O’Connor put up six more points for the Crimson when he defeated Jack Conroy of the Bison by fall in 2:46.

The victory gave O’Connor 29 victories on the season, one shy of the freshman record set by Dustin DeNunzio in 1994-95.

“I’ve just been lucky to have a great coaching staff and wrestling partners,” O’Connor said. “It’s neat, but it’s not something I’d be concerned about at all going into [the EIWAs].”

Juniors Bobby Latessa (157 lb.) and Matt Button (165 lb.) both won by one-point margins to give Harvard the lead.

Freshman Fred Rowsey lost 8-4 at 174, but sophomore Louis Caputo (184 lb.) gave the Crimson a cushion with a pin of his opponent in 5:11.

Bucknell won the next two matches at 197 and 285 to tie the final score.


Harvard’s second Ivy opponent of the weekend dealt the Crimson its second straight loss as Columbia improved to 3-2 in the Ivies, good for second place in the Ivy standings.

Harvard found itself in familiar territory when the Lions seized a 10-0 lead with a pin and a major decision in the first two bouts.

No. 16 Meltzer put Harvard on the board with a pin in 6:16, and O’Connor recorded a 12-0 major decision to tie the score.

The Crimson would not win another match until Caputo upset No. 13 Justin Barent of Columbia at 184. The sophomore pinned Barent in 4:01.


Riding a three-match winning streak from last weekend, Harvard ran into powerhouse Cornell Friday night and managed only three wins.

With the win against the Crimson, the Big Red clinched the Ivy League title with an undefeated 4-0 record.

The match of the night happened at 149 lb., where No. 4 Jordan Leen of Cornell and O’Connor faced off.

The freshman suffered a tough 5-3 loss to Leen in what was his only loss in dual meets this season.

“He’s a tough competitor,” O’Connor said of Leen. “I wrestled a little timid and gave him a little too much respect. Once I got into the match, there wasn’t enough time left [for a comeback].”

The matchup began with the 133-lb. bout, and Harvard quickly gave up six points when sophomore Simon Orozco was pinned in 1:38.

Meltzer recorded a 4-3 decision with a first-period takedown and two escapes in the third.

Latessa recorded the second win on the night for the Crimson when he defeated Drake Hovis, 4-2, at 157, and Caputo logged the squad’s final victory with a 6-1 win at 184.

—Staff writer Tony D. Qian can be reached at