Harvard Wrestling Has Strong Showing at Midlands Championships

Peppelman made his season debut at the prestigious Midlands Championships (Gil Talbot).

EVANSTON, Ill. – Two-time All-American Walter Peppelman made his return to the Harvard wrestling lineup Saturday as the Crimson turned in an impressive showing at the 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships.

"I felt we wrestled very tough, all of these guys did something that we can build on," Jay Weiss, The David G. Bunning '88 Head Coach for Harvard Wrestling, commented following the first day of competition. "This is a meat grinder of a tournament and I feel our guys responded."

Harvard sent six student-athletes to the tournament which featured 14 teams that placed in the top-25 at the 2012 NCAA Championships.

Peppelman entered the tournament as the fourth seed at 157 lbs. and dispatched Bloomsburg's Bryce Busler, wrestling unattached, via a 6-1 decision in his first match of the day. The senior co-captain then defeated Eastern Michigan's Aaron Sulzer, 7-3, before falling to Isaac Jordan of Wisconsin, wrestling unattached, 3-1 in the quarterfinals. Peppelman was still alive in Sunday's consolation bracket but was pulled from the tournament for precautionary reasons.

Harvard turned in several other impressive performances on Saturday highlighted by freshman Devon Gobbo's run at 165 lbs. After being held out of competition early in the year due to injury, Gobbo registered in a 10-6 decision over the 11th-ranked wrestler in the country, Pierce Harger of Northwestern, in his first collegiate match. Gobbo fell by a score of 3-2 in his second match against Stanford's Jim Wilson, wrestling unattached, but responded with three straight wins in the consolation bracket including a 9-1 major decision over Binghamton's Vinni Grella and a gutsy 4-2 decision in overtime over Oklahoma's Clark Glass. The freshman was bumped from the tournament by eighth-seeded and 17th-ranked Mark Lewandowski from Buffalo via a 9-2 decision.

"Devon was terrific in his first collegiate tournament," Weiss stated. "He proved he can wrestle with the best."

Cameron Croy and Nicholas Gajdzik also posted multiple victories for the Crimson. Croy earned an 18-4 major decision in his opening bout at 174 lbs. and followed it up with a 5-3 win in sudden victory before dropping two matches, including a loss to top-seeded and fifth-ranked Jordan Blanton, to exit the tournament. Gajdzik, meanwhile, recorded a second-period fall to open the tournament before suffering an 11-2 loss to Central Michigan's Jarod Trice, the tournament's top seed at heavyweight and the fourth-ranked wrestler in the country. Gajdzik, a freshman, also earned a 5-2 decision in the consolation bracket before being eliminated.

Freshman Jeffrey Ott and Sophomore Patrick Hogan were also in the lineup for Harvard and each posted a 1-2 record.

Harvard will now turn its attention to the dual meet portion of its schedule as it hosts Rider next Saturday, Jan. 5 at 11 a.m. in the Malkin Athletic Center.