Photo of Fermin Mendez courtesy of Gil Talbot.
The Harvard wrestling team closes out the dual portion of its season this weekend when Columbia and Cornell come to town. The Crimson hosts the Lions Friday night and the Big Red Saturday afternoon.
Keep up with the scores at home via the NWCA Live Scorebook. The links for all three dual meets are posted above.
The Lions are 7-6 overall and 1-2 in the Ivy League with a win over Princeton at the New York Athletic Club. Columbia finished 24th at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and second at the New York State Championships. Kevin Lester leads the team in wins with 21 at heavyweight. He is 21-6 on the season and 3-0 in Ivy dual action. Nick Mills, 18-9 at 184, Eren Civan, 15-10 at 165, and Kyle Gilchrist, 15-9 at 133, have had strong seasons.
The Lions lead the all-time series 45-31-2 that dates back to 1923 after winning three of the last five meetings. Harvard earned a 25-18 victory in Cambridge two years ago.
Cornell is the top ranked team in the nation with an 11-1 record and eight nationally ranked wrestlers. The Big Red looks to claim its ninth straight Ivy League title this weekend. Cornell faces Brown Friday before taking on the Crimson. Cam Simaz at 197 bounds is No. 1 in the nation, Kyle Dake, second at 149, Mike Grey, third at 133, Mack Lewnes, third at 174, Justin Kerber, fourth at 165, Steve Boask, sixth at 184, Frank Perrelli, 10th at 125, and DJ Meagher, 11th at 157.
Cornell sports a 47-9 record against Harvard in a series dating back to 1946-47. The Big Red extended its win streak in the series to nine straight with last year's 44-6 victory in Ithaca.
Thank You Seniors
Andrew Knapp, Fermin Mendez, Michael Sadler, Jackson Salovaara and Derek Steuben make up the class of 2011. All five grapplers have been contributors for the Crimson on and off the mat. In the classroom, this group helped Harvard to the second best GPA in the nation in 2009 and best GPA in the nation in 2010. Under this classes leadership, the Crimson has become much more involved in the community, volunteering with local schools and at local homeless shelters as well as assisting in building houses and repairing churches.
Talk About Offense
Walter Peppelman leads the team in wins with 24 victories this season. Peppelman has scored bonus points in 15 of those 24 wins, including seven wins by major decision, four by technical fall and four by fall.
Welcome Back Captain
Senior co-captain Andrew Knapp returned to the mat against Rutgers. It was his first competition since the EIWA Championships in March 2009.
Corey Jantzen and Walter Peppelman each have three and four wins by fall this season, respectively. Jantzen has 10 collegiate pins, while Peppelman has picked up 11 so far. Overall the Crimson has eight wins by fall on the year.
Walter Peppelman is ranked as high as sixth in the nation at 157 pounds.
The Crimson is doing its share of community service each year. During the month of January, Harvard wrestlers will volunteer with the Mission Hill After School Program to tutor residents of the Alice Taylor housing complex, a low income section of Roxbury. Earlier in the year, Jackson Salovarra '11 organized an event where Harvard went to church near campus to help weatherize the church rectory. The Crimson spent all day insulating and closing the house up for the winter which in turn will save the rectory thousands of dollars in the long run. These projects are just a small sample of how this program gives back to the community!
On the Horizon
Harvard takes a week off from competition to begin preparing for championship season. The Crimson travels to Lewisburg, Pa., for the EIWA Championships March 5-6.