BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- The Harvard wrestling team pulled off one of the upsets of the year Sunday afternoon, knocking off No. 14 Lehigh on its home mat, 25-16.
With the score tied at 16, 197-pounder James Fox came up with a 2-0 decision over John Bolich to put Harvard out in front by three, 19-16, heading into the final bout. From there heavyweight Nicholas Gajdzik did the rest, registering his third fall of the year against Max Wessell in sudden victory overtime to seal the victory.
"Today's match versus Lehigh was a great team effort," Jay Weiss, The David G. Bunning Head Coach for Harvard Wrestling stated. "Our guys wrestled hard for points and they battled hard the entire match. Lehigh always has a great environment and today was no different. I told our guys to let that atmosphere work to our advantage. We took a big step towards our goals today."
Harvard's (5-5, 3-4 EIWA) victory was its first against Lehigh (7-7, 3-4 EIWA) since 1998 and broke a streak of 14 consecutive losses to the Mountain Hawks, who placed eighth at last year's NCAA Championships.
Jeffrey Ott put the Crimson on the board early with a 10-0 major decision over Alex Abreu at 125 lbs. to get the day started. Lehigh took the next match via an 8-0 major decision to even the team scores before No. 13 Steven Keith picked his 99th career win via a 7-2 decision against Anthony Salupo to put Harvard back on top. The Mountain Hawks tied it up once again at 149 lbs. as No. 17 Shane Welsh snuck by Todd Preson, 8-3.
No. 8 Walter Peppelman gave Harvard a six-point cushion in team scores, 13-7, with his pin of Albert Woody at the 0:48 mark. The fall was his second of the year and the 29th of his career, ranking him third all-time in program history. Devon Gobbo followed Peppelman with a 5-4 decision versus Ben Haas, pushing the team score to 16-7.
No. 15 Nathaniel Brown and No. 3 Robert Hamlin pulled Lehigh back into the dual with a major decision and technical fall at 174 lbs. and 184 lbs., respectively, before Fox and Gajdzik put the victory away.
Harvard returns to Cambridge next weekend as it hosts Brown Saturday, Feb. 16 at 12 p.m. in the Malkin Athletic Center. The Crimson will then head over to Boston University later in the afternoon for a 6:30 p.m. showdown with the Terriers.
125 – Jeffrey Ott (Harvard) major dec. Alex Abreu (Lehigh) 10-0, 4-0
133 – Randy Cruz (Lehigh) major dec. Shay Warren (Harvard) 8-0, 4-4
141 – No. 13 Steven Keith (Harvard) dec. Anthony Salupo (Lehigh) 7-2, 7-4
149 – No. 17 Shane Welsh (Lehigh) dec. Todd Preston (Harvard) 8-3, 7-7
157 – No. 8 Walter Peppelman (Harvard) fall Albert Woody (Lehigh) 0:48, 13-7
165 – Devon Gobbo (Harvard) dec. Ben Haas (Lehigh) 5-4, 16-7
174 – No. 15 Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) major dec. Ian Roy (Harvard) 13-1, 16-11
184 – No. 3 Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) tech fall. Josh Popple (Harvard) 20-5 (6:04), 16-16
197 – James Fox (Harvard) dec. John Bolich (Lehigh) 2-0, 19-16
285 – Nicholas Gajdzik (Harvard) fall Max Wessell (Lehigh) 7:55 (SV1), 25-16