Wrestling Gears Up for 106th EIWA Championships Saturday and Sunday at Lehigh

Wrestling Gears Up for 106th EIWA Championships Saturday and Sunday at Lehigh

Photo of the 2009-2010 Harvard wrestling team courtesy of

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The Harvard wrestling team heads to Lehigh in Bethlehem, Pa., March 6-7 for the 106th Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships.

The 2010 EIWA Championships will take place in four sessions. Session start times are as follows:
Sessions 1 - Saturday, March 6, 10 a.m.
Session 2 - Saturday, March 6, 3:30 p.m.(semifinals)
Session 3 - Sunday, March 7, 10 a.m. (consolation semis, place finals)
Session 4 - Sunday, March 7, 3 p.m. (championship finals)

The Contenders

American, Army, Brown, Bucknell, Columbia, Cornell, Franklin & Marshall, Harvard, Lehigh, Navy, Penn, Princeton and Rutgers make up the EIWA conference.

Location, Location, Location

This is the fifth year in a row the EIWA Championship will be held in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 2006, the tournament was held at Lehigh, it was at East Stroudsburg in 2007, at Franklin & Marshall in 2008 and at Penn in 2009.

Harvard’s Line-up
Nine Crimson wrestlers will compete in crimson and white this weekend: freshman Steven Keith (125 pounds), sophomore Fermin Mendez (133), freshman Paul Liguori (149), senior J.P. O’Connor (157), freshman Adam Hogue (165), freshman David Lalo (174), senior Louis Caputo (184), sophomore Sean Murphy (197) and sophomore Spencer DeSena (285).

Up for Grabs
The NCAA has changed the allocation process for NCAA Championship qualifiers. Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current-year data Division I winning percentage, rating percentage index (RPI) and coaches ranking. The NCAA has already announced 284 of the 330 championship-field positions. The final 46 at-large qualifiers will be selected by the Division I wrestling committee and announced March 10.

The EIWA was allocated 41 qualifiers. Only the Big Ten Conference received more (56). NCAA automatic qualifiers will be returned their place at the EIWA Championships this weekend. The oldest wrestling conference in the nation will have the following qualifiers: 125 (four), 133 (five), 141 (three), 149 (four), 157 (four), 165 (six), 174 (four), 184 (four), 197 (four) and 285 (three).

Wow... What a Conference
Injuries have plagued several EIWA schools this winter. Despite injuries three EIWA schools are ranked in the top-25. In the most recent poll, Cornell is ranked seventh in the nation, while Lehigh stands eighth and Rutgers is 21st. Thirty-two individual wrestlers in the EIWA are ranked in the Intermat/NWCA/NWMA top 20. An EIWA grappler leads the nation in three weightclasses: Cornell’s Kyle Drake at 149, J.P. O’Connor at 157 and Cornell’s Mark Lewnes at 174.

EIWA History
The EIWA Championship, the oldest intercollegiate wrestling competition in the country, will take place for the 106th time this weekend. Thirteen teams will compete in the two-day tournament at Stapler Arena.

Harvard won the team title in 2001 and has won 19 individual titles, 15 coming under Jay Weiss, the David G. Bunning Head Coach for Harvard Wrestling. The Crimson has had 151 placewinners at the event since 1930.

Team Successes
Harvard won the EIWA team title in 2001 edging out host Penn by nine points. Since then, the Crimson has finished in the top five three out of the last seven years. Harvard had its best finish since 2003 was in 2006 with a fifth-place finish and two EIWA champions.

Individual Champions
Harvard has had at least one champion in 10 of the last 12 tournaments, including two winners in 2007 Nineteen Crimson grapplers in all have won EIWA crowns. Jesse Jantzen ’04 is the only three-time EIWA champion for the Crimson, while Dustin DeNunzio ’98, Joey Killar ’00 and Dawid Rechul ’02 won two titles. Louis Caputo won the 184 pound title in 2007.

On the Medal Stand
Louis Caputo and J.P. O'Connor have both been on the medal podium before. Caputo has placed three times at the EIWAs, taking fifth in 2006, first in 2007 and third in 2008. O'Connor is a three-time runner-up at this meet.

Ivy League Honors

J.P. O’Connor was named Ivy League Wrestler of the Year, while earning unanimous first-team All-Ivy League honors along with classmate Louis Caputo.

O’Connor, a two-time All-American, was named Co-Wrestler of the Year for his unbeaten record thus far. The Oxford, N.Y., native is 26-0 overall, 5-0 in the Ivy League and ranked No. 1 at 157 pounds. It is his second Wrestler of the Year honor, having won the award in 2008. O’Connor, a three-time EIWA finalist, is the first Harvard grappler and seventh in the Ancient Eight to earn the honor twice. He is also a three-time unanimous first-team All-Ivy League selection, after earning second-team honors as a freshman. As a freshman, he was named Co-Rookie of the year in 2007 after becoming the first Crimson to All-American as a freshman.

Caputo, also a two-time All-American, was named a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League honoree for the second year in a row. The Blue Springs, Mo., native is a three-time first-team honoree and four-time selection to the All-Ivy team after making the second-team as a freshman. The 184-pounder is currently ranked sixth in the nation and second in the EIWA. He won the 184-pound title at the 2007 EIWA Championships and placed two other times at the NCAA qualifying meet.

Statistical Leaders
J.P. O'Connor paces the team in wins with 26 victories this season. Louis Caputo has 19, while Steven Keith has posted 14 wins in his rookie season. O’Connor has 14 wins by bonus points, while Keith has nine.

The Harvard Victory Club
J.P. O’Connor moved into second on Harvard’s all-time wins list with 123 career victories. Louis Caputo is third with 122 wins. Jesse Jantzen ’04 holds the program record for wins with 132.

The Big Show

The NCAA Championships will be held March 18-20 at Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb.

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