4th-Seeded Peppelman and 11th-Seeded Keith Place Eighth at NCAA Wrestling Championships
Peppelman and Keith each placed eighth to earn All-America status at the NCAA Wrestling Championships (Photo courtesy Joey Krebs, the Phantom Street Artist).
Peppelman, a 2011 All-American, is just the seventh student-athlete in Harvard history to reach the podium in back-to-back years after placing eighth at last year's tournament. Keith, meanwhile, has earned All-America status for the first time while making his third appearance at Nationals. Peppelman and Keith are the first Crimson teammates to earn a place on the podium at the same tournament since Louis Caputo '09-'10, Max Meltzer '07 and J.P. O'Connor '10 did so in 2007.
Harvard now boasts 27 All-Americans in program history, including 19 under Jay Weiss, the David G. Bunning '88 Head Coach for Harvard Wrestling. The Crimson has had at least one student-athlete reach the podium in each of the last seven years, and in 10 of the last 11.
Both Keith and Peppelman fell on Saturday in the seventh-place match, with Keith dropping a 13-11 decision to eighth-seeded Zachary Stevens of Michigan and Peppelman losing a 9-1 major decision to James Green from Nebraska, the 11th seed.
Keith began Friday in title contention but was knocked from the 133 lbs. championship bracket when he was pinned by third-seeded Tony Ramos of Iowa 1:57 into their match. He bounced back in his first wrestleback bout, however, and defeated Central Michigan's Zach Horan, 5-3, to advance to the consolation semifinals. Keith suffered his second loss of the day to 10th-seeded Chris Dardanes from Minnesota by fall in sudden victory overtime at the 7:48 mark to move to the seventh-place match.
The junior opened the tournament on Thursday with an 8-0 major decision over Maryland's Geoffrey Alexander in the 133 lbs. pigtail bout and returned to the mat later in the afternoon to take an 8-4 decision over Oklahoma's Jordan Keller. During the evening session, he upset sixth-seeded Devin Carter from Virginia Tech with an 8-6 decision to become the first Crimson grappler to reach the quarterfinals since J.P. O'Connor won the 157 lbs. National Championship in 2010. Keith finishes his season with a 34-11 overall record, ranking him sixth on Harvard's single-season wins list.
Peppelman had a more difficult road to travel to get on the podium after becoming one of 17 seeded wrestlers and one of five returning All-Americans to fall in the first round of the tournament. Peppelman rebounded with an 8-5 decision over Maryland's Kyle John in his first wrestleback bout, and on Friday morning picked up a pair of wins to keep his All-America hopes alive. The junior first took out 10th-seeded Anthony Jones of Michigan State via a 5-2 decision before pinning Oregon State's Roger Pena at the 2:29 mark.
Peppelman's match in the round of 12 came down to the wire, as he scored a takedown with just 0:03 remaining to dispatch eighth-seeded Frank Hickman of Bloomsburg's, 2-1. Peppelman was denied a spot in the consolation semifinals, however, as sixth-seeded James Fleming from Clarion picked up a 9-0 major decision. Peppelman's season ends with a 29-8 record, with his 11 falls ranking ninth on the program's single-season list. The junior is 92-34 in his career, good for the seventh-most wins in Harvard history.
Senior Corey Jantzen saw his Harvard career come to an end Friday morning when he lost a 16-1 tech-fall to fourth-seeded Donald Vinson from Binghamton at 149 lbs. Jantzen, who has struggled with injuries his entire career and came into the tournament with an injured shoulder, picked up his first career win at Nationals Thursday morning, taking out 10th-seeded Cam Tessari of Oklahoma State with a 10-8 decision. In his second match, Jantzen faced Minnesota's Dylan Ness, the seventh seed, and dropped an 11-7 decision to fall to the wrestleback bracket.
James Fox, in his first appearance at Nationals, was eliminated from the tournament on Day One with a pair of close decisions. The freshman opened his tournament with a 12-8 loss to eighth-seeded Matt Powless of Indiana, a returning All-American, before falling to American's Daniel Mitchell, 4-1.
The Crimson finished the tournament in 30th place of the team standings with 17.0 points, ranking second among Ivy League schools.