The 2012 EIWA Championships will take place March 3-4 in Princeton, N.J. (Gil Talbot)
The Story Line
A year's worth of training and four months of competition comes down to two days now as the No. 22 Harvard wrestling team takes to the mat at the 2012 EIWA Championships March 3-4 in Princeton, N.J.
What to Watch For
Harvard is currently projected to finish sixth at the EIWA Championships, which would mark the team's highest finish at the meet since placing sixth in 2007. A total of five Crimson received a top eight seed, including Steven Keith, the early favorite to win the 133 lbs. bracket. Corey Jantzen is pre-seeded second at 149 lbs. while Walter Peppelman (3rd, 157 lbs.), Cameron Croy (6th, 184 lbs.) and James Fox (6th, 197 lbs.) round things out.
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Schedule of Events Saturday, March 3
Harvard at the EIWA Championships
Harvard boasts 20 EIWA Champions and 158 EIWA placewinners in program history. The Crimson has crowned nine individual title holders over the last 10 years, and a total of 16 under Jay Weiss, the David G. Bunning '88 Head Coach for Harvard Wrestling. J.P. O'Connor '10 won the Crimson's last EIWA title in 2010 en route to the school's only undefeated season and the 157 lbs. NCAA Championship.
Harvard won its lone EIWA team championship in 2001 led by heavyweight Dawid Rechul '02, who was named the meet's most outstanding wrestler. Rechul and 133-pounder Matt Picarsic '01 won a pair of individual titles for the Crimson and were joined on the podium by Keven El-Hayek, Jesse Jantzen '04, Max Odom '03, Pat O'Donnell '03, Francis Volpe '00 and Reggie Lee '03.
Click here to visit the media center on GoCrimson.com to learn more about Harvard's history.
NCAA Berths At Stake
Each of the wrestlers competing at the EIWA Championships will also be vying for a spot at the 2012 NCAA Championships, being held this year March 15-17 in St. Louis, Mo. The NCAA announced the qualifier allocations for the tournament last week, with the EIWA receiving 46 automatic bids, second only to the Big Ten Conference's 74. Each conference qualifying tournament was awarded a specific number of spots per weight class based on current year individual data, including Division I winning percentage; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches ranking.
125 – Max Mejia, Fr. (2-9)
133 – No. 12 Steven Keith, Jr. (27-7)
141 – Shay Warren, Jr. (3-10)
149 – No. 5 Corey Jantzen, Sr. (7-2)
157 – No. 6 Walter Peppelman, Jr. (22-4)
165 – Ian Roy, So. (3-12)
174 – Josh Popple, Fr. (8-6)
184 – Cameron Croy, So. (16-12)
197 – James Fox, Fr. (19-10)
HWT – David Ng, Fr. (9-16)
No. 12 Steven Keith and No. 6 Walter Peppelman were named to the 2012 All-Ivy League teams, with Keith being a unanimous first team selection and Peppelman earning second team honors. This was Keith's first All-Ivy accolade, while Peppelman was a first team selection in 2011. Click here to read the full story.
Rank and File
The Crimson moved up to No. 22 in this week's InterMat tournament strength rankings, marking the team's highest ranking of the year. Corey Jantzen has spent the last two weeks ranked fifth at 149 lbs., also marking his highest ranking this season, while Walter Peppelman has spent two weeks as the sixth-ranked grappler at 157 lbs. Steven Keith has remained steady at No. 12 at 133 lbs. for the last five weeks.
Senior co-captain Walter Peppelman currently ranks third in Harvard history with 25 career pins, while his nine falls this season put him one shy of matching his career-high and 10th place on the school's single-season list. His 85 career wins, meanwhile, put him one short of entering the school's all-time top 10.
Watch highlights of Peppelman's 25th career fall below.
Twice As Nice
Harvard earned EIWA Wrestler of the Week honors in back-to-back weeks in the form of Corey Jantzen (Jan. 9) and Walter Peppelman (Jan. 16). Jantzen garnered his second career wrestler of the week accolade after going 4-0 in his return to the Crimson lineup, including a 7-4 tiebreakers decision over then unbeaten and third-ranked Mario Mason of Rutgers. Peppelman went 3-0 at the Lone Star Duals to earn the award for the first time in his career with a pair of pins and a 2-0 decision over Oklahoma's Matt Lester, currently ranked No. 15.
Raising the Bar
At 5-10 on the year, Harvard matched the program's highest win total since the 2002-03 season when it went 6-7-1. The Crimson's 2-7 record in the EIWA has also matched the program's best mark total since going 4-1 in conference in 2000-01.
Jay Weiss, the David G. Bunning '88 Head Coach for Harvard Wrestling, was wired for sound when the Crimson hosted Army in its home opener Jan. 28.
Senior co-captain Walter Peppelman won 10 straight matches from Jan. 6 to Feb. 4, and won the first nine of those bouts without allowing a single point. He opened the streak with six consecutive first period falls and tacked on two major decisions for good measure.
Infusion of Youth
Harvard's lineup this season features eight freshmen, four of which have been fixtures in the starting lineup. 197-pounder James Fox has burst onto the scene with an 19-10 record, and was ranked No. 31 in the third and final set of coaches' panel rankings released by the NCAA. David Ng has carried the load at heavyweight all season long to the tune of a 9-16 record, while Josh Popple has posted an 8-6 record at 174 lbs. since returning to the lineup after missing the fall semester due to injury. Joe Barbato and Max Mejia have split time at 125 lbs. and have combined for a 4-18 mark.
What a Start
Harvard went 3-1 to open the dual meet portion of its schedule, marking the team's best start to a season since going 5-1 in 1995-96. The Crimson defeated Rider, 22-15, before falling at No. 24 Rutgers, 33-12, and then posted victories at Millersville, 43-0, and Franklin & Marshall, 29-12.
The Crimson posted a shutout at Franklin & Marshall, dominating the Diplomats to the tune of 43-0. This was Harvard's first shutout since defeating Boston College 31-0 on Feb. 9, 2002 at the MAC, while the team's 43 points scored were the most since a 50-0 win at home over Columbia on Feb. 9, 2001.
On the Podium
The Crimson competed in four tournaments to begin the year and put a total of 15 grapplers on the podium. Six Crimson placed at the Binghamton Open, led by Walter Peppelman and Steven Keith who each took third. Peppelman earned the first tournament title of his career as seven Harvard wrestlers placed at the Keystone Classic, while both Keith (3rd) and freshman James Fox (7th) stood atop the podium at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Keith also took eighth at the Midlands Championships to lead a contingent of four Crimson who competed in the tournament.