Photo of Fermin Mendez courtesy of Gil Talbot.
The Story Line
The Harvard wrestling team opens its Ivy League season Saturday against Penn and Princeton at the Malkin Athletic Center. The Crimson wrestles Princeton at 10 a.m., before taking on Penn at 3 p.m.
Scouting the Crimson
Harvard heads into the weekend with a 2-8-1 dual record. 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 20-0 record, while Caputo is sixth at 184 pounds with a 13-2 mark. Harvard has wins over Sacred Heart and Franklin & Marshall and a tie with Hofstra.
Scouting the Tigers
Princeton heads into the weekend with a 4-8 overall record. The Tigers have wins over Franklin & Marshall, VMI, Merchant Marines and Duquesne. The team will face Boston University Friday night and Brown Saturday afternoon.
Freshman Garrett Frey leads the team with 19 wins at 125 pounds. Kurt Brendel (184), Michael Erdman (174), Andrew Lowy (165) and Luis Ramos (141) all have 10 or more victories this season.
Princeton leads the all-time series with the Crimson, 44-32-3, but Harvard has had the upper hand, winning 13 of the last 14 matches. The only time the Crimson was not victorious during that stretch was in 2003 when the teams tied. The last time Princeton beat Crimson was on Feb. 4, 1995.
Scouting the Quakers
Penn comes into the weekend with a 6-4 overall record. The Quakers have won two straight including a 32-12 win over Hofstra in its last outing. Penn faces Brown Saturday morning before traveling to Cambridge.
Junior Stephen Burak paces the team with 27 wins and is ranked 18th at 165 pounds. Juniors Zack Kemmerer (141) and Bryan Ortenzio also have 20 or more wins on the season. Senior Cesar Grajales is 6-1 on the season and ranked ninth in the nation at 149 pounds. Classmate Matt Dragon, who has also seen limited action, is 3-2 on the season and ranked 15th at 157 pounds. Junior Scott Griffin, who is ranked 19th at 174 pounds, sports a 15-3 record. Freshman Micah Burak is ranked 20th in the nation at 197 pounds and owns a 16-5 mark.
Penn has won the last 19 duals against the Crimson and leads the all-time series 36-30-2. Harvard’s last win against the Quakers came in 1990, when the Crimson defeated Penn, 27-9 at home.
J.P O’Connor leads the Crimson with an 12-0 record this season. Louis Caputo, who only started competing in January, is not far off with his 13-2 record. O’Connor has nine 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 117 career victories. Louis Caputo closed in on third with 116 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 travels to Brown next Saturday before hosting Lehigh Sunday at 1 p.m.