Wrestling Treks to the Palestra for Keystone Classic

Wrestling Treks to the Palestra for Keystone Classic

Four Harvard wrestlers tallied top-five finishes a year ago (Robert Preston).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Returning to the mats after a strong opening weekend, Harvard wrestling will compete in the Keystone Classic for the sixth-consecutive season on Sunday, Nov. 20 at the Palestra. Mat-by-mat coverage will be broadcast on the Ivy League Digital Network and FloWrestling beginning at 9 a.m.

Last Time Out
Competing for the first time in 2016-17, junior Josef Johnson (174) paced the Crimson at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open with a second-place finish to open the season. Harvard also tallied top-five performances from senior Nicholas Gajdzik (285) and freshmen Hunter Ladnier (149) and A.J. Jaffe (141).

Johnson opened the tournament with a 3-2 decision over Robert Winning (Navy), and won in a sudden victory in both the third round and quarterfinals, taking down Anthony Deprez (Binghamton) and Sam Rowell (Maryland). The Piscataway, New Jersey native pinned Ohio's Dontae McGee at 3:43, but fell in the finals to Mark Hall of Penn State by major decision.

Scouting Harvard
Harvard returns a plethora of talented wrestlers for 2016-17, led by Johnson, who qualified for the NCAA Championships a year ago. Johnson tallied 17 victories last season, including a sixth-place result at EIWAs. Senior Jeffrey Ott (133) leads all returners with 24 victories in 2015-16, including a sterling 10-2 mark in dual action. Senior Nicholas Gajdzik (285) and junior Nolan Hellickson (125) also posted double-digit victories a year ago, with 18 and 15 wins, respectively.

The Crimson wrestlers combined for 29 victories in the season-opening Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open, including four pints.

Scouting the Field
A group of 12 teams will travel to Philadelphia for the 2016 Keystone Classic, including nationally-ranked Penn State (No. 4) and Rider (No. 23). The EIWA will be represented by Frankin & Marshall and Sacred Heart in addition to the Crimson and host Quakers. 25 ranked wrestlers will compete on Sunday.

Last Year's Event
Todd Preston '16 led the program with a second-place finish in 2015 at 141 pounds, and was one of four place-winners for the Crimson. Gajdzik (285) and Johnson (174) posted third-place finishes, while Ott (133) rounded out the day with a fifth-place result. The Crimson posted 70.5 points as a team to finish seventh overall.

Enter Freshmen
A trio of freshmen kicked off their careers with four or five victories at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat open: Jaffe (141), Ladnier (149) and Kyle Bierdumpfel (165). Jaffe and Ladnier took fifth with four victories apiece, while Bierdumpfel triumphed five times en route to a sixth-place result.

Ivy League Digital Network
The Ivy League Digital Network returns for a fourth season as the home for all live streaming and on-demand video content for each of the conference's eight institutions. Broadcast in full HD and featuring a live score bug and play-by-play and color commentary, the Ivy League Digital Network provides fans with unprecedented access to the Ancient Eight.

Multiple subscription options are available to fans, including school-specific and league-wide passes. The ILDN is also available on Apple TV and Roku. To learn more about the Ivy League Digital Network or to sign-up today, click here.

Oh Captain, My Captain
Harvard wrestling will be led by a trio of captains this season: seniors Nicholas Gajdzik and Jeffrey Ott and junior Josef Johnson. All three are in their first season in the leadership role.

The Class of 2020
Harvard wrestling announced the addition of seven newcomers for the 2016-17 campaign: Kyle Bierdumpfel, Zeth Dean, Donovan Doyle, A.J. Jaffe, Aaron Kruk, Hunter Ladnier and Connor Sakmar. The seven incoming freshmen hail from six different states and will compete in five separate weight classes.

In the Classroom
Excelling in the classroom as well as on the mat, the 2015-16 Harvard wrestling team posted the highest GPA in the nation, as announced by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. The honor marked the 14th time Harvard landed in the top-10 since the award's inception.

At the Helm
Jay Weiss is in his 23rd season as the David G. Bunning '88 Head Coach for Harvard Wrestling. Weiss is a two-time EIWA Coach of the Year, and mentored a pair of national champions in Jesse Jantzen (2004) and JP O'Connor (2010). Under Weiss' watch, Harvard has tallied 17 EIWA champions and 19 All-Americans.

What's Next?
Harvard travels to the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite Dec. 2-3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The meet will be broadcast by FloWrestling.