LANCASTER, Pa. – Harvard had three wrestlers post top-5 finishes on Saturday at the David H. Lehman Franklin & Marshall Open. Hunter Ladnier led the way for the Crimson, reaching the title match at 157 pounds before ultimately coming in second place.
One of three team captains on the squad, Ladnier breezed through the first three rounds, earning a first-round bye followed by a pair of major-decision wins over Kyler Rea of West Virginia (14-6) and Campbell's Zachary Barnes (14-6) to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. The Rocky River, Ohio native then went on to defeat Justin McCoy of Virginia (6-2) and Emmett LiCastri of Franklin & Marshall (13-6) by decision to advance to the championship match. With the title on the line, Ladnier fell just short, finishing on the short end of a 7-2 decision to Princeton's Quincy Monday.
First-year Leonardo Tarantino posted a third-place performance in the 174-pound weight class. Hailing from Tarpon Springs, Florida, Tarantino scored a 14-4 major-decision win over Lock Haven's Brinton Simington and followed that effort with a 7-3 decision against the unattached Gary Eakin. Tarantino advanced to the semifinals after moving past Clarion's Shae Bloom due to injury, but had his momentum stopped by Princeton's Travis Stefanik (Dec. 8-3). Later in the third-place match, Tarantino was proclaimed the winner after North Carolina's Clay Lautt forfeited.
Harvard's third top-5 performer, meanwhile, was sophomore Lukus Stricker at 133 pounds. A product of Rootstown, Ohio, Stricker cruised to an 11-0 major decision victory over Joe Renne of Kutztown University and then earned a 4-2 decision over Virginia's Sam Book. A quarterfinal loss to Lock Haven's Cole Manley (Dec. 6-0) proved to be only a minor setback as the sophomore rebounded with a medical forfeit, a 15-0 technical fall in a second match with Book and a pin of Hofstra's Jacob Martin (1:04) in the fifth-place match to finish out the tournament.
- Ladnier hit the 50-career-win mark with his second-round triumph over Kyler Rea of West Virginia. The junior is 53-33 all-time in his Harvard career.
- Stricker's pin of Martin at 1:04 was his first of the season and second of his career.
- Tarantino is starting to come along after a slow start to his season. The freshman will take a 5-2 record in his last seven matches into next week's double-dual at Stanford and vs. Utah Valley.
- Senior Sam Goldman reached the quarterfinal round with a pair of victories by decision. The 141-pound Goldman earned a 6-3 win over Virginia's Gray Hart and returned to the mat to dismiss the unattached Kyle Slendorn, 10-5.
- Cliffton Wang picked up three wins in his first four matches of the day with the highlight being his pin of Chris Mittler of Delaware Valley University. The sophomore posted the fastest fall of the season for Harvard, pinning Mittler in 28 seconds. Before today, Joshua Kim owned the fastest fall, pinning AJ Geers of Penn in 1:21 at the Keystone Classic.
The Crimson opens dual-match play next week in Northern California when it faces Stanford and Utah Valley. Harvard will face UVU at 1:30 p.m. ET and then take on the Cardinal at 4:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 12.