Men’s Wrestling Remains Undefeated with Thrilling Victories over Harvard and Brown| Feb 9, 2016
Coming off an exciting victory over longtime rival Penn, the Tigers surged through the first two matches of Ivy League play, winning key matchups against the Harvard and Brown wrestling teams. Their performance brought the Tigers to 3-0 in Ivy League play. Princeton rounded out a successful week by landing a decisive victory against Sacred Heart on Sunday.
The wins didn’t come easily for Princeton by any means. The Crimson came into the match with a tough and experienced lineup, including 9th-ranked Todd Preston. While Princeton won the first three matchups against Harvard, with 11th-ranked junior Brett Hamer leading the way, the Crimson quickly followed up with three victories of their own. Though senior Adam Krop briefly stemmed the Harvard onslaught by winning his match 12-0, by the time Jonathan Schleifer stepped onto the mat in the penultimate match, the Crimson were ahead 16-13. If Schleifer lost his bout, Harvard would score a victory.
Schleifer faced Harvard’s Josef Johnson, and the two evenly-matched opponents fought tenaciously. Forced to go into overtime, Schleifer was nearly pinned by Johnson, but managed to evade the finishing move and instead turned the tables. Winning his grueling matchup, Schleifer tied the meet score at 16-16, giving the Tigers a fighting chance. Senior Abram Ayala immediately capitalized on the opportunity, taking down Michael Mocco four times to give Princeton a thrilling19-16 victory.
The Tigers had little chance to catch their breath, however, as they traveled to Providence on Sunday to face a determined Brown squad coming off a tightly-contested 16-15 loss to Columbia. Princeton came out roaring with a 15-0 lead as Ray O’Donnell, and freshman standout Pat D’Arcy (who has defeated his opponent in all three Ivy-League meets so far) swept the first four matches. But Brown continued to fight hard; an unfortunate injury withdrawal from senior Chris Perez marked the start of a 3-0 run by the Bears that cut the once-formidable Princeton lead to two points. The outcome of the match thus once again fell on the heads of Jonathan Schleifer. Schleifer, however, thrived once again under the intensity of the match, managing to take down Andrew LaBrie to give Princeton a 21-16 victory. Following the close win over Brown, the Tigers rounded out the day by defeating Sacred Heart 39-4, with Princeton wrestlers winning nine out of the ten matchups.
Having swept their opponents this weekend, the Tigers play Columbia at home this weekend and hopefully then Cornell, the perennial wrestling powerhouse, for the Ivy League championship. Their strong performance this weekend is a testament to the skill, resolve, and spirit of a wrestling team seeking to make its history in Princeton athletics.