With both the best team and individual victories in his six years at Princeton, head coach Chris Ayres breathed a sigh of relief as he headed home from New England. After two heartbreakingly close losses Friday, the Princeton wrestling team knocked off No. 23 Harvard 25-14 Saturday afternoon in Boston.
It was Princeton’s first win over a nationally ranked opponent in more than a decade. Hours after Harvard scored a victory over Penn, Princeton won six of 10 matches to also take its first Ivy League win of the season. The Tigers will look to reach the .500 mark in Ivy competition Friday night when they host Columbia at 7 in Dillon Gym.
“The guys wrestled really well today,” Ayres said. “They bounced back and showed a lot of toughness against Harvard today. I’m really proud of what we did today, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do over the next month.”
Freshman Ryan Cash gave Princeton the ideal beginning, scoring his first collegiate win with a 9-5 victory over Max Mejia at 125.
Harvard grabbed the lead when 12th-ranked Steven Keith scored a 10-0 major decision over Chris Perez at 133. But one nationally ranked wrestler followed another, and 14th-ranked Adam Krop gave Princeton the lead right back with an 8-3 decision over Shay Warren.
It was Krop’s 26th win of the season and his 13th in 14 matches, dating back to his third-place finish at The 2011 Midlands Championships.
Junior Zach Bintliff completed a perfect weekend with a second-period pin of Patrick Hogan at 149. After some early-season inconsistency, Bintliff has now won six of his last seven matches and moved his season record above the .500 mark.
That gave Princeton a 12-4 lead and set up the match of the day. Princeton’s 19th-ranked Daniel Kolodzik came into the day with 25 victories this season, including a team-best 10 in a row. He also had been 0-4 over the last two years against Harvard’s Walter Peppelman, the fourth-ranked wrestler in the nation.
Kolodzik grabbed an early lead with a takedown, but he seized control of the match in the second period. One year after riding Kolodzik out in the second period of a 2-0 win, he chose up and looked for another rideout.
Instead, Kolodzik reversed and turned him. That would push him to a 9-1 major decision over the 2011 All-America honoree.
“He wrestled great,” Ayres said of his senior co-captain. “Just amazing. It is without question the best win we’ve had here. I’m very happy for him.”
Harvard cut the deficit to 16-7 with a 3-2 win at 165, but Princeton senior Andy Lowy scored a big 7-5 win at 174 to give Princeton a 12-point edge with three matches remaining. A loss at 184 left the lead at nine points and must have given Ayres flashbacks to Friday.
Those flashbacks lasted all of 42 seconds, though. Princeton senior Kurt Brendel scored a first-period pin of Bryan Panzano to extend the lead to 25-10 and ice the victory. Harvard got a major decision at heavyweight to finish the 25-14 dual match.
Princeton won its sixth match of the season and will now begin a four-match homestand Friday night against Columbia. The weekend will conclude Sunday with home matches against both Clarion (1) and Franklin & Marshall (4).
Princeton 25, No. 23 Harvard 14
125 – Ryan Cash (P) dec. Max Mejia, 9-5, 3-0
133 – No. 12 Steven Keith (H) major dec. Chris Perez, 10-0, 4-3
141 – No. 14 Adam Krop (P) dec. Shay Warren, 8-3, 6-4
149 – Zach Bintliff (P) fall Patrick Hogan, 4:18, 12-4
157 – No. 19 Daniel Kolodzik (P) major dec. No. 4 Walter Peppelman, 9-1, 16-4
165 – Ian Roy (H) dec. Richard Eva, 3-2, 16-7
174 – Andy Lowy (P) dec. Josh Popple, 7-5, 19-7
184 – Cameron Croy (H) dec. Daniel Santoro, 8-3, 19-10
197 – Kurt Brendel (P) fall Bryan Panzano, 0:42, 25-10
HWT – David Ng (H) major dec. Robert Grogan, 12-4, 25-14