Four Crimson grapplers will be in St. Louis for the 2012 NCAA Championships (OAC).
The Story Line
The Harvard wrestling team will send four grapplers to the Midwest to compete in the 2012 NCAA Championships, March 15-17 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. James Fox, Corey Jantzen, Steven Keith and Walter Peppelman will represent the Crimson in St. Louis as they each look to earn a place atop the podium and the right to call themselves a national champion.
What to Watch For
Harvard will be sending four wrestlers to Nationals for the first time since 2007 when it placed 22nd, marking the program's highest team finish since tying for 20th place in 1998 and representing the fourth-best placement in program history. The Crimson has crowned three national champions, including J.P. O'Connor '10 (157 lbs., 2010), Jesse Jantzen '04 (149 lbs., 2004) and John Harkness '38 (175 lbs., 1938). Harvard has had at least one All-American at each of the last six tournaments, and has had a total of 25 student-athletes reach the podium in program history including 17 under Jay Weiss, the David G. Bunning '88 Head Coach for Harvard Wrestling.
Corey Jantzen, Sr., 149 lbs.
2011-12: 9-5 Career: 49-23
Senior 149-pounder Corey Jantzen will be making his third and final trip to Nationals and will look to wrestle on Saturday night for the first time after battling through an injury plagued career. Jantzen was the top ranked 133-pounder in the country coming out of high school and reached No. 1 in the InterMat rankings as a sophomore, but has never been able to wrestle a full season and comes into the tournament with only 72 career matches under his belt. When healthy, however, Jantzen has proved to be one of the best in the business as evidenced by his 7-4 tiebreakers victory over then third-ranked and unbeaten Mario Mason of Rutgers in just his second match this season. The senior posted two victories this year over top 10 opponents and was ranked as high as No. 5 in the InterMat rankings himself.
#4 Walter Peppelman, Jr., 157 lbs.
2011-12: 25-5 Career: 88-31
2011 All-American Walter Peppelman enters the tournament as the fourth seed at 157 lbs. This will be Peppelman's second appearance at the NCAA Championships after placing eighth at the tournament a year ago. The junior is an impressive 25-5 in 2011-12 with 10 falls, and placed second at the EIWA Championships after pinning then third-ranked Ganbayar Sanjaa of American at the 4:07 mark to reach the finals. Peppelman also won the Keystone Classic, marking the first individual title of his career, and placed third at the Binghamton Open. Peppelman is one of 25 All-American's in program history, and is attempting to become just the seventh Crimson wrestler to place at Nationals in back-to-back years.
#11 Steven Keith, Jr., 133 lbs.
2011-12: 30-8 Career: 73-37
Steven Keith is a three-time NCAA qualifier and will be looking to earn a place on the podium for the first time as the 11th seed at 133 lbs. Keith has put together his best year yet as a Crimson, posting a 30-8 overall record with a team-high 10 major decisions and three wins over ranked opponents. His 30 wins represent a new career-high and is two wins shy of placing him on Harvard's career top 10 list. The junior placed third at the EIWA Championships, third at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and took eighth at the Midlands Championships.
James Fox, Fr., 197 lbs.
2011-12: 21-12 Career: 21-12
James Fox earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships after placing seventh at the EIWA Championships, and was one of only four true freshmen to receive an at-large bid to Nationals. Fox notched a 21-12 record on the year, becoming the first freshman to post 20 wins and qualify for Nationals since Steven Keith did so in 2009-10. His resume also includes a seventh-place finish at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and a third-place finish at the Keystone Classic.
Schedule of Events
Friday, March 16
Saturday, March 17
Junior co-captain Walter Peppelman currently ranks third in Harvard history with 26 career pins, while his 10 falls this season have matched his career high and are tied for ninth most in single-season history. His 88 career wins, meanwhile, are tied with Joel Friedman '99 for ninth on the program's career list.
Click here to visit the media center on GoCrimson.com for the most up-to-date historical archives on the Crimson.
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.
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, ranked 14th in the nation at the time.
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.
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 Malkin Athletic Center, 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.