Ladnier and Ott took second place at their weight classes (Robert Preston).
LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bringing a close to the 113th EIWA Championships, three Crimson wrestlers qualified for the NCAA Championships, led by second-place performances from freshman Hunter Ladnier and senior Jeffrey Ott. Harvard tallied 63.5 points overall, good for 10th place as a team.
Excelling in his first conference tournament, Ladnier became the first Harvard freshman to advance to the EIWA finals since JP O'Connor '10, who later went on to win a national championship. Six Crimson student-athletes landed on the podium in total, and Harvard has multiple student-athletes going to the NCAA Tournament for the 18th time in the past 19 years.
Ladnier took second at 149 pounds to book his ticket to the NCAA Championships. Following a pair of victories on Friday, Ladnier stepped to the mat and dispatched Lehigh's Laike Gardener, who was the top seed and 12th-ranked wrestler nationally, 11-7. Locked in a tight battle in the finals, Ladnier held an early lead against Princeton's Jordan Laster but a late takedown by Laster secured the victory for the Tigers, 8-5.
Ott also tallied a second-place finish, giving him his fourth time on the podium at 133 pounds in his career. The co-captain started the second day of action with a victory over Drexel's Kevin Devoy by injury default. Ott scored a pair of points after escapes in the final, but ultimately Lehigh's Scott Parker claimed the title in a 6-2 decision.
Junior Josef Johnson captured a sixth-place finish at 174 pounds, helping him advance to his second NCAA Championships. Subsequent to Friday's 1-1 tally, Johnson opened the second day of the conference championships with a 4-0 triumph by decision over Binghamton's Anthony Lombardo. A defeat to Penn's Casey Kent sent Johnson the fifth-place bout, which the co-captain dropped in a tight contest, 6-3.
Freshman A.J. Jaffe (141) collected seventh-place honors in his first conference tournament, going 3-2 overall. The St. Charles, Illinois native toppled Columbia's Jacob Macololooy in the seventh-place battle in a hard-fought 1-0 decision.
The Crimson also tallied a pair of eighth-place performances, with Kanon Dean (184) and Nicholas Gajdzik (285) earning a spot on the podium. Dean won two consecutive bouts to close the first day of action, but dropped a heartbreaker in the seventh-place match, 5-4, when his takedown at the buzzer was ruled too late by the referee. Gajdzik had a similar end to the opening action as Dean, and fell to Cornell's Craig Scott in the seventh-place match, 8-0.
Ladnier, Ott and Johnson will trek to St. Louis for the NCAA Championships March 16-18. The NCAA selection show is Wednesday, March 8 at 6 p.m., where the brackets will be revealed and 49 at-large berths will be awarded.