Photo of Spencer Friedman courtesy of Gil Talbot.
The Story Line
The Harvard wrestling team continues Ivy League action at Brown Saturday before hosting No. 7 Lehigh Sunday.
Sunday’s match against Lehigh will be the last home contest for senior co-captains Louis Caputo and J.P. O’Connor. The two are among the most decorated athletes in Harvard wrestling history. Caputo, a three-time team captain, is a two-time NCAA All-American, a three-time All-Ivy League recipient, a three-time NCAA qualifier and an EIWA champion. The Blue Springs, Mo., native will graduate in the top three in wins at Harvard and among the top 10 in career wins by fall.
O’Connor, a two-time team captain, is a two-time All-American, a three-time first-team All-Ivy League honoree, was the 2007 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and EIWA Freshman of the Year, was the 2008 Ivy League Player of the Year and the first freshman in Harvard history to earn All-America honors. He will graduate tied for the most wins in a season (37), the most wins by a freshman (37), in the top 10 in wins by fall and in the top three for overall career victories.
Scouting the Crimson
Harvard heads into the weekend with a 2-10-1 overall record and a 0-2 Ivy mark. The Crimson is led by senior co-captains J.P. O’Connor and Louis Caputo. O’Connor is ranked No. 1 at 157 pounds and sports a 22-0 record, while Caputo is sixth at 184 pounds with a 15-2 mark. Harvard has wins over Sacred Heart and Franklin & Marshall and a tie with Hofstra.
Scouting the Bears
Brown enters the weekend with a 3-10 overall record and a 0-2 Ivy mark. The Bears have wins over Franklin and Marshall, Hofstra and Boston University. Greg Einfrank paces the team with 15 wins on the season.
Saturday’s match will be the 81st in series history. Harvard leads the all-time series 52-27-2. Brown has won four of the last six meetings including two straight. Last year at the Malkin Athletics Center, the Crimson won five of eight matches contested, but two forfeits at 125 and 285 pounds handed the Bears the victory.
Scouting the Mountain Hawks
The nationally ranked Mountain Hawks head into the weekend with a 12-3-1 overall record. Lehigh’s three losses were against teams ranked in the top six at the time (No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 6 Maryland). Heavyweight Zach Rey leads the team in wins with a 22-8 overall record. David Craig at 184 pounds is 16-3 on the season and Joey Napoli at 149 is 17-10 overall.
Six grapplers are ranked nationally for the Mountain Hawks: Matt Fisk (13th at 133 pounds), Seth Ciasulli (17th at 141), Alex Caruso (18th at 174), David Craig (15th at 184), Joe Kennedy (20th at 197) and Zach Rey (fifth at 285).
The Lehigh vs. Harvard series began in 1933 but took a 65-year hiatus before being renewed in 1998. The Crimson won their only match of the series that year, a 21-17 victory in Cambridge. The Mountain Hawks, who hold the advantage in the series 12-1, have a 11-match win streak against the Crimson.
J.P O’Connor leads the Crimson with a 22-0 record this season. Louis Caputo, who only started competing in January, is not far off with his 15-2 record. O’Connor has 11 bonus point wins, while freshman Steven Keith has eight.
The Harvard Victory Club
J.P. O’Connor moved into second on Harvard’s all-time wins list with 119 career victories. Louis Caputo is second with 118 wins. Jesse Jantzen ’04 holds the program record for wins with 132.
Wrestling and Volunteering
During preseason the Harvard wrestling spent several weekends volunteering in the community and bonding with each other. J.P O’Connor spearheaded the team to help out with a Habitat for Humanity project in Dorchester. The team worked together off the mat to help out a community by hanging sheet rock and painting. The team helped out the Harvard Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) in a three-mile walk as a tribute to Myles Brand, the former NCAA President who passed away in September. During the January break from classes, members of the team volunteered at the Lutheran Church Homeless Shelter in Cambridge. The wrestlers worked four shifts several times a week.
Harvard closes out its dual season this weekend at Columbia (Friday at 6 p.m.) and Cornell (Saturday at 3 p.m.).