The wrestling coaches offices are located on the fourth floor of the Malkin Athletic Center at 39 Holyoke St., Cambridge, Mass., (Driving Directions).
The David G. Bunning '88 Head Coach for Harvard Wrestling
Head coach Jay Weiss and his coaching staff have put the Harvard Wrestling program on the map.
The two-time EIWA Coach of the Year has mentored two national champions, 17 EIWA champions and 19 All-Americans during his 25 seasons at the helm of the Crimson, creating a culture of excellence never seen before. Prior to Weiss' arrival in Cambridge, Harvard boasted just seven All-American's in almost 80 years.
Harvard won the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Top Grade Point Average award in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2017, the Crimson broke the record for highest team GPA with a 3.586, a mark established in 1991. The Crimson finished 2011-12 ranked second in the team rankings and has placed in the top 10 of the team standings 14 times under Weiss.
The Crimson posted the highest GPA in the nation for the third consecutive year in 2018, while sending Josef Johnson '18 to the NCAA Championships. Making is third appearance on the national stage, Johnson advanced to the second day with a third period takedown against Iowa's Joseph Gunther. Additionally, Johnson was named to the All-Ivy first team, while A.J. Jaffe '20, Nolan Hellickson '19, Ryan Friedman '19 and Hunter Ladnier '20 also garnered All-Ivy recognition. Overall, Harvard posted a 5-4 mark in dual matches, which included wins against Stanford and Maryland to begin the season.
The 2018-19 campaign was a trying effort for Harvard as it suffered through injuries up and down the lineup. Harvard went 2-9 in dual action (2-7 EIWA), picking up victories over Franklin & Marshall and Hofstra. Ladnier won a team-best 22 matches, including five against EIWA action, at 157 pounds. Lukus Stricker, a 133-pound sophomore, had 16 victories, including a team-high six in EIWA action en route to Honorable Mention all-Ivy League honors.
In 2017, Harvard sent three wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, including Johnson, Jeffrey Ott and Ladnier. Ladnier and Jaffe were named to the all-Ivy second team, while off the mat senior Henry Cousins was the recipient of the Hoopes Prize earned the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
Under Weiss' tutelage in 2016, Harvard sent three wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, including Devon Gobbo '16, Johnson and Todd Preston '16. Gobbo and Preston also garnered all-Ivy first-team accolades, with Gobbo winning the EIWA title at 165 pounds. As a team, the Crimson went 8-4 overall and the eight dual victories marked the most for Harvard since 2012-13.
In 2015, the Crimson had three grapplers earn all-Ivy League honors, including David Ng '15 who made an appearance at the NCAA Championships at heavyweight.
The 2014 season saw the return of an EIWA champion to Cambridge as Preston won the 141-pound title as a sophomore. Preston's performance, which included a sudden-victory overtime win over ninth-ranked Luke Vaith of Hofstra in the finals, was so impressive that the conference coaches awarded him Most Outstanding Wrestler honors, making him the third Crimson grappler to receive the award. Preston was one of five Harvard wrestlers to reach the podium at EIWA Championship, and was joined at the NCAA Championships by junior co-captain James Fox, who made his third consecutive trip to Nationals.
In 2013, Harvard posted its first winning record in dual meets (8-5) and its first winning record against the EIWA (5-4) since 2001, with seven Crimson earning all-Ivy selections, the most since '01, with Peppelman ’12-’13 earning a unanimous first-team selection. At the EIWA Championships, eight Crimson finished on the podium with three grapplers earning a spot in the NCAA Championships.
Weiss received the Bob Bubb Coaching Excellence Award in 2009 for the accomplishments that he and his team made in the classroom and in competition. The award is presented annually to one coach across each division of collegiate wrestling, and is intended to recognize an outstanding coach who epitomizes the qualities and characteristics of a role model and mentor for developing young student-athletes. Weiss was one of two recipients of the United States Marine Corps Excellence in Leadership Award in 2007. The United States Marine Corps Excellence in Leadership Award is presented yearly to a collegiate and high school coach that represents the core values of the United States Marine Corps in their passion for wrestling and leadership. Weiss was also named the Wrestling USA 2008 Massachusetts Person of the Year. He received the honor not only for his coaching at Harvard, but his support and development of the sport on the youth level. His work with Massachusetts Junior National team and clinics has raised the level of training, technique and competition throughout the state. In the summer of 2011, he participated in the first Student-Athlete Development Coaches Forum held in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Harvard extended its streak of producing All-Americans at the NCAA Championships in 2012 when Steven Keith '13 and Walter Peppelman '12-'13 placed eighth at 133 pounds and 157 pounds, respectively. This marked the seventh consecutive season Harvard had produced at least one All-American under Weiss, and the 10th time in the last 11 years. Additionally, Peppelman was just the seventh student-athlete in Harvard history to reach the podium in back-to-back years while Keith and Peppelman became the first Crimson teammates to earn a place on the podium at the same tournament since Louis Caputo '09-'10, Max Meltzer '07 and J.P. O'Connor '10 did so in 2007.
In 2010, the Crimson crowned a national champion at the NCAA Championships for the third time in Harvard history, produced an All-American for the 24th time overall, and finished in the top 50 at the NCAA meet for the 12th time in the last 13 years and in the top 25 for the 12th time in program history. The Crimson had its 20th EIWA champion, fourth Ivy League Wrestler of the Year and second EIWA Wrestler of the Year.
The 2008 campaign was the third year in a row Harvard had at least one All-American and fourth in the last five seasons. O'Connor became the fifth Harvard grappler to earn All-America accolades for the second time when he finished sixth at the 2008 NCAA Championships. The Ivy League Wrestler of the Year was one of two national championship qualifiers from a squad that was plagued with injuries all season long.
In 2006-07, Weiss led the Crimson to a 22nd-place finish at the NCAA Championships, quite a feat when you consider the Crimson were without former All-American Bode Ogunwole and All-America candidate Andrew Flanagan, but did pick up a medal from true freshman O'Connor - one of only two true freshmen to place at the 2007 NCAA Championships. Senior Max Meltzer finished eighth at 141 pounds and sophomore Louis Caputo placed seventh to earn All-America nods.
Prior to his arrival in Cambridge, no Harvard wrestling team had ever won an EIWA or Ivy League championship. Weiss orchestrated an amazing turnaround, quickly constructing a program whose teams perennially challenge for the top spot in both the Ivy League and EIWA. Jesse Jantzen became the first Harvard wrestler to win an NCAA title since 1938 with his victory at 149 pounds in 2004. The pinnacle of his work occurred in 2001 when the Crimson captured its first EIWA and Ivy League championships.
That 2001 championship squad boasted two EIWA individual champions and six NCAA qualifiers, the largest contingent to ever represent Harvard at the event. Weiss was honored as EIWA Coach of the Year for the second time in his career after earning Harvard's first such distinction in 1998. The 2001 squad was presented with the EIWA Sportsmanship Award and recorded the fourth-highest cumulative GPA in Division I.
Weiss has guided wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in 23 of the last 24 seasons, with multiple student-athletes reaching the national meet in 20 of those years. In addition to the six wrestlers who made NCAAs in 2001, Harvard has placed four at the meet seven times under Weiss. The Crimson finished 20th as a team at the NCAA meet in 1999, 22nd in 2002, 2004 and 2007, 23rd in 2010, 28th in 2000 and 29th in 1998.
Seventeen Crimson wrestlers have won EIWA titles under Weiss, compared to just four in Harvard history before Weiss' arrival. From 1998 to 2007, at least one Harvard wrestler won his weight with two individual champions each in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2006.
"Coaching at Harvard is a humbling experience," Weiss said. "We attract individuals who have a passion to succeed both in and out of the athletic arena. Harvard not only allows student-athletes to do this, but facilitates this action in every way. Our success on the wrestling mat in the past number of years is a true testament of highly motivated individuals who have a dream to succeed. If they throw themselves into this school, all their talents blossom. The end result of a Harvard wrestler after four years of this program is what the real prize is. That is so rewarding to see."
An important aspect of Weiss' coaching success is his ability to recruit and cultivate talented wrestlers. He has seen his efforts pay off, as Harvard wrestlers have been named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in seven times, including the most recent recipient, O'Connor in 2007.
Weiss, a 1990 Franklin & Marshall graduate and four-year starter on the wrestling team, was an EIWA runner-up and an NCAA qualifier as a senior. He graduated with the school record for most wins in a season with 29, and ranked second in all-time career wins.
His wife, Jennifer, is the head coach of the Harvard women's volleyball team. They have two sons, Colby, 18, and Keegan, 15.