Prior to Friday night, Harvard wrestling had dropped four straight matches. The most recent—a 23-12 defeat to Brown on Feb. 10—had pushed the Crimson to 1-4 in conference play and carried the extra indignity of occurring at home.
Three weeks of losing clouded over the team, and there was no obvious reprieve. A four-hour bus ride to Hempstead, N.Y. appeared unlikely to lift the gloominess. Nor, at least initially, did a matchup against Hofstra (6-11, 2-6 EIWA) seem like the cure: In the first two contests, freshman Connor Sakmar and sophomore Samuel Goldman lost to open a 6-0 chasm.
What Harvard needed was a sparkplug, some fiery jolt of energy. In which case, it’s a good thing that the visitors brought A.J. Jaffee.
In the third matchup of the day, the freshman pinned his opponent to tie the score and reenergize the Crimson. Harvard (3-8, 2-6 EIWA) proceeded to take the next five bouts, ending the night with a 28-9 win.
Besides breaking the losing streak, the victory let the Crimson begin preparations for the EIWA Championships with a touch of momentum. On March 3, the program will head to Lewisburg, Pa. for what looms as the largest test of the season.
Harvard’s performance over the two-day event will fossilize this season as a success or a failure. Moreover, the EIWA Championships gives wrestlers a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships later in March—both as a team and individuals.
Jaffe will be one of those athletes vying for a bid. On Friday, however, he could content himself with reversing the course of the dual meet.
The other highlight of the night came when fellow freshman Kyle Bierdumpfel smacked his opponent, 17-3, for a win by major decision. The 165-lb. wrestler now owns an 11-9 record over his career.
Many other teammates claimed wins—just not so lopsidedly. Freshman Hunter Ladnier and senior Colby Night followed up Jaffe’s pin with a pair of victories by decision. And after Bierdumpfel’s domination, co-captain Josef Johnson and senior Kanon Dean respectively won 8-2 and 9-4 by decision.
Although junior Logan Kirby fell 7-4 by decision at 197 lbs., that result had no effect on the outcome of the dual meet. Aided by a forfeit in the final weight category, Harvard escaped Hofstra with the 28-9 victory.
—Staff writer Sam Danello can be reached at email@example.com.