The Crimson’s rookie wrestlers continued to make their presence known this weekend as the team took the mats at the Keystone Invitational. In his second collegiate competition, Hunter Ladnier notched a sixth place finish at 149 pounds, while his classmate AJ Jaffe recorded a multiple win day for the Crimson as well.
“Hunter was impressive again this week,” Johnson said. “Because he's so dangerous from top, he can really open up matches better than most people. He fought for every point, whether he got it or not.”
Ladnier finished the day with a 4-3 record. The rookie started the day with a loss to Drexel’s Matt Cimato. Ladnier bounced back from this initial setback, winning his next four matches before falling in the fifth place match to Eastern Michigan’s Nick Barber, 8-2.
Meanwhile, Jaffe opened strong for the Crimson, winning his first two matches. In his third match of the day, Pittsburgh’s Robert Lee ended the Jaffe’s streak. From there, Jaffe dropped his next two matches.
Posting 48 points, the Crimson had the second highest tally of any Eastern conference competitor. 11 wrestlers earned points for Harvard, while five athletes won multiple matches for the squad.
Following this trend, junior co-captain Josef Johnson also built on his performance from last week, appearing on the podium again for the Crimson. Johnson posted a 6-1 record on the day, with his most decisive victory coming at the end. In the bronze medal match for the 174 pound division, Johnson managed to keep his opponent off the scoreboard for the entirety of the match, and claimed third place with a final score of 6-0.
“As the day progressed, I gained a lot more confidence in my offense and that showed in how much more potent it was later on,” Johnson said. “I wrestled two opponents twice today and my second matches with both of them were much more dominant. I think I finally had glimpses of my potential when I'm fully locked in, and I'm very hopeful to build from there and channel the that going forward.”
In the heavyweight division, Senior Nick Gajdzik also contributed to the Crimson’s top ten performance. Appalachian State’s Denzel Dejournette ended Gajdzik’s championship run, shutting the senior out 6-0. Following this loss, Gajdzik entered the match for third place with a 3-1 record. He was unable to find his momentum again, and lost by decision, 4-2 to Drexel’s Joey Goodhart.
“Nick will be the first person to tell you he could've wrestled better in his losses,” Johnson said. “But I think today was a very positive day for him. He showed his ability to dominate and control matches. He was dictating the pace of his matches, which goes a long way.”Jeffrey Ott was another Crimson standout on the mats. Ott notched three wins by decision throughout competition. This 3-3 personal record locked down a sixth place finish for the senior.
—Staff writer Jillian Dukes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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