When it came time to choose a college, L.J. Barlow’s process was simple. He identified a school that has long been in his sights, set a date by which he wanted a decision and went after it.
Like he has so many times on the wrestling mats the last three years, Barlow made sure the process was clean, succinct and ultimately successful.
Barlow got word last Wednesday that he’d been accepted to Harvard University, where the two-time Daily Times Wrestler of the Year from Haverford School will compete for the Crimson.
That call Wednesday morning was the realization of a dream Barlow has harbored since he was in third grade.
“It was probably one of the greatest days of my life,” Barlow said last week, after helping his Haverford School football team to a 41-22 win over Roman Catholic. “It was always a life dream to go to that school. It was great to finally get the call early in the morning, right off the bat, that they’re going to accept me. It was really gratifying.”
With the long-term academic goal of attending Harvard in his mind, Barlow and Harvard coach Jay Weiss started cultivating a relationship last spring. Once the fall rolled around, Barlow, who also plays middle linebacker, knew he wanted a college decision sewn up before the wrestling season got underway.
That meant an early September application submission with hopes that early October would bring the good news. Just as many of Barlow’s 119 wins on the mat in three high school seasons, everything seemed to fall into place.
Barlow, the wrestler of the year as a freshman in 2012 and a junior in 2014, follows in the footsteps of 2010 Wrestler of the Year Joseph Marino of Garnet Valley, who just finished up four years wrestling for the Crimson.
One of the key factors, in addition to the 195-pounder’s long fascination with the mystique and academics of Harvard, in the senior’s decision was his relationship with Weiss, a Franklin & Marshall graduate entering his 22nd season at Harvard’s helm.
His insistence on hard work and self-determination, something that separates the exceptionally driven Barlow from his peers as much as anything, really appealed to Barlow.
“He seemed really invested in me, and one of my favorite things about him was that he said that, as hard as I work, I’ll determine how well I’ll do in this program,” Barlow said. “That spoke to me because I like to push myself, and I feel like in a program like that, if you give me the right resources, I can accomplish anything. I really appreciate the coach. He was with me all the way through the spring, and just appreciate the support he gave me.”
Barlow enters his senior season sporting a 119-19 record after posting a 39-4 mark as a junior. Among his accolades were winning the Beast of the East tournament and making the final of the National Preps tournament before bowing out in overtime to finish second.