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Peppelman Wins, 7 Crimson Finish on Podium at Keystone Classic

Peppelman won his first tournament title to lead seven Crimson placewinners (Gil Talbot).

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Walter Peppelman won the first tournament title of his career as the Harvard wrestling team finished fifth at the Keystone Classic.

Peppelman, the top seed and seventh ranked wrestler at 157 lbs., earned the tournament title with a 4-0 decision over third-seedd Daniel Kolodzik from Princeton. Peppelman began with a fall over VMI's Ted Gottwald just 0:08 seconds into their match and followed that up with a 4-1 decision over fifth-seeded Chip Powell from Appalachian State to reach the finals.

The Crimson also crowned a pair of second-place finishers in No. 20 Steven Keith and Cameron Croy. Keith earned a 9-0 major decision over Northwestern's Jameson Oliver to begin his tournament at 133 lbs. and took an 8-6 decision over third-seeded Brandon Gambucci from Duke to reach the finals. Keith, the second seed, fell 6-5 to Penn's Bryan Ortenzio, the top seed, in the finals.

Croy was also seeded second at 184 lbs. and took a 10-4 decision over Appalachian State's Jon Hartley in his first match. A 12-4 decision over sixth-seeded Daniel Santoro from Princeton earned Croy a trip to the finals where he was defeated 7-5 by top seed Austin Trotman from Appalachian State.

A total of seven Crimson finished on the podium as James Fox, Paul Liguori, David Ng and Joe Barbato joined Peppelman, Keith and Croy. Fox entered the tournament as the third seed at 197 lbs. and finished third with a 3-1 record. The freshman was defeated in his first bout, by fifth-seeded Alex Polizzi but rebounded with an 8-0 major decision over Duke's Brian Self in his first wrestleback match. Fox followed that up with a 7-1 decision over second-seeded John Schoen from Northwestern and defeated Northwestern's Alex Polizzi, the fifth seed, 8-5, to claim third.

Liquori earned a fifth-place finish at 149 lbs. as the tournament's third seed. A 13-0 major decision over Appalachian State's Russ Benner and a 13-1 major over Princeton's Luis Ramos began Liguori's day before he was defeated, 7-5, by sixth-seeded Kevin Tao of American. The junior returned in the wrestlebacks with a 17-0 tech-fall over VMI's David Yost, the seventh seed, but was taken down, 10-5, by top-seeded Kaleb Friedley from Northwestern in the consolation semifinals. He rebounded with a 6-1 decision over fifth-seeded Savva Kostis from Appalachian State for fifth.

Ng also took fifth after beginning the day as the fourth seed at heavyweight. Ng was defeated 2-1 in his first bout by fifth-seeded Evan Craigh of Rider to drop to the consolation bracket. The freshman earned a 12-3 major decision over Princeton's Robert Grogan in his first wrestleback match and won 9-4 over Andrew Embree of VMI to reach the consolation semifinals. Second-seeded Blake Herrin of American advanced passed Ng, 3-1, but the Crimson won by medical forfeit over Penn's Steven Graziano to place fifth.

Barbato rounded out Harvard's place winners with a sixth-place showing at 125 lbs. Barbato entered unseeeded but won an 8-3 decision against fifth-seeded Billy Watterson from Brown in his first match. The freshman took a 9-7 decision over Penn's Geoffrey Bostany to reach the semifinals before being pinned by top-seeded Levi Mele of Northwestern. American's Thomas Williams, the third seed, pinned Barbato to knock him to the fifth-place match where he was pinned by Appalachian State's Tony Gravely to place him sixth.

The Crimson finished fifth in the team competition with 90 points, just shy of Princeton which finished fourth with 90.5 points. No. 24 Northwestern took the team title with 140 points while Appalachian State (97) and Rider (92.5) rounded out the top five. Boston University (76.5), No. 7 American (75.0), Brown (56), Duke (33) and VMI (24.5) also competed at the Keystone Classic.

Harvard will return to action Dec. 2-3 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.