Harvard placed five on the podium at the 2012 EIWA Championships and advanced three to the NCAA Championships (Gil Talbot).
PRINCETON, N.J. – The No. 22 Harvard wrestling team advanced three individuals through to the NCAA Championships, including No. 5 Corey Jantzen, No. 6 Walter Peppelman and No. 12 Steven Keith, as the Crimson placed five on the podium at the 2012 EIWA Championships.
Peppelman paced the Crimson with a second-place finish at 157 lbs., marking his highest placement at the tournament. Keith matched his highest finish with a third-place showing at 133 lbs. while Jantzen took sixth at 149 lbs. Each earned an automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament in the process, marking the third time in four years Harvard will be represented by three wrestlers at Nationals.
Cameron Croy and James Fox also finished on the podium Sunday, with Croy placing sixth at 184 lbs. and Fox taking seventh at 197 lbs. Both can still earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships when the complete brackets are announced Wednesday, March 7 at 6 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Harvard finished in eighth place of the team standings with 59 points, marking the team's highest finish at Eastern's since 2009. The Crimson's five placewinners matches last year's total and is the most for the program since placing six in 2002. Cornell won the team competition with 151.5 points.
Peppelman earned an appearance in the finals after opening the tournament as the third seed with an 11-0 major decision over Lehigh's Brian Tanen. In the quarterfinals, the junior met second-seeded Ganbayar Sanjaa of American, the third-ranked wrestler in the nation, and recorded a pin at the 4:07 mark to reach center mat. Peppelman fell to top-seeded Kyle Dake of Cornell, the No. 1 wrestler in the nation, in the finals, 3-0.
An All-American a year ago, Peppelman will be making his second appearance at the NCAA Championships. His performance over the weekend improved him to 24-5 on the year and 87-31 for his career, and moved him into 10th place on Harvard's career wins list. Peppelman also ranks third in program history with 26 career falls, while his 10 pins this season tie his career high and are ninth most in single-season history.
Keith entered the tournament as the top seed at 133 lbs. and received a bye in the first round. The junior took out Princeton's Christopher Perez with a 6-1 decision in the quarterfinals, but dropped a 3-1 decision to Navy's Aaron Kalil, the fourth seed, in the semi's. He bounced back with a 3-2 decision over seventh-seeded Nick Arujau of Cornell to reach the consolation finals and defeated third-seeded Mason Beckman of Lehigh in double overtime, 4-2, to place third.
Keith is now a three-time NCAA Qualifier and will enter the tournament with a 30-8 record. The junior leads the team in wins and has also posted a team-best 10 major decisions.
Jantzen returned to the mat for the first time in over a month as the second seed at 149 lbs. and looked strong, recording a 9-0 major decision against Franklin & Marshall's Andrew Murano. He then dispatched seventh-seeded Alex Pellicciotti of Bucknell with a pin just 36 seconds into his second match before dropping out of the tournament in sixth place due to medical forfeit. Jantzen will also be making his third appearance at Nationals.
Croy got off to a good start on Saturday as the sixth seed at 184 lbs., posting a 16-4 major decision over Sacred Heart's Zachary Moran in his first bout. Croy turned in a strong showing in the quarterfinals against third-seeded Luke Rebertus of Navy, but succumbed in sudden victory overtime, 7-5, forcing him into the wrestleback bracket. He remained alive with wins over Princeton's Daniel Santoro, 7-2, and seventh-seeded Michael Gorman of Army, 11-6, before dropping a 3-2 decision to Rebertus in the fifth-place match. The sophomore is a two-time EIWA placewinner after taking seventh at last year's event.
Rounding out Harvard's placewinners was Fox who came into the tournament as the sixth seed at 197 lbs. The freshman earned a bye in the first round and was met by third-seeded Joseph Kennedy of Lehigh in the quarterfinals. Kennedy took a 4-2 decision over Fox in the first set of tiebreakers to advance, but Fox bounced back with a 7-2 decision over Navy's Paul Rands in his first wrestleback match. Fox was beaten by Army's Derek Stanley, the seventh seed, in the consolation quarterfinals, 5-3, before earning a 2-0 decision over Colin Ely of Franklin & Marshall to place seventh. Fox improved his record to 21-12 on the year, becoming the first freshman to win 20 matches for the Crimson since Keith in 2009-10.