The Crimson has moved to No. 24 in the InterMat rankings heading into its Friday showdown at Cornell (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard wrestling team has entered the InterMat top 25 this week at No. 24, days before taking on its toughest opponent to date in No. 5 Cornell. The Crimson and Big Red will square off Friday, Jan. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in Ithaca, N.Y.
At 4-3, Harvard is enjoying its best start to the dual meet schedule since 1995-96 when it 5-2 to open the campaign. The Crimson opened the year by winning three of its first four bouts, but dropped to its current record with a 1-2 showing at the Lone Star Duals this past weekend. Harvard won seven of 10 bouts for a 27-12 victory over Air Force, despite falling to No. 7 Oklahoma, 28-9, and Appalachian State, 22-21.
Harvard's appearance in the InterMat tournament strength rankings has been buoyed by its three nationally ranked grapplers, Walter Peppelman, Corey Jantzen and Steven Keith. Peppelman remains as the fifth-ranked wrestler at 157 lbs. with a 16-3 overall record and eight falls. The junior co-captain has won seven straight bouts, with six of those wins coming by fall, and currently ranks fourth in Harvard history with 24 career pins. Peppelman was named the EIWA Wrestler of the Week on Monday after going 3-0 at the Lonestar Duals, including a 2-0 decision over No. 14 Matt Lester from Oklahoma.
Jantzen, who owns a 6-1 record at 149 lbs., jumped from 12th to seventh in this week's rankings. He posted a 2-1 mark at the Lone Star Duals, dropping his first decision of the year to No. 3 Cole Van Ohlen of Air Force, 11-6, before earning a 7-6 decision over current No. 8 Nick Lester of Oklahoma. Jantzen was the first Crimson grappler to be named the EIWA Wrestler of the Week this season, having earned the award Jan. 9 after going 4-0 in his return to the lineup.
Keith is listed as the 13th-ranked 133-pounder for a third straight week. The junior is 22-7 on the season and has picked up wins in six of his last seven bouts. 10 of Keith's victories have come with bonus points as he leads the Crimson in both wins and major decisions (8).
Harvard's lineup at Cornell will also feature freshmen James Fox at 197 lbs. and Josh Popple at 174 lbs. Fox is 17-9 in his inaugural campaign and burst onto the scene by placing third at the Keystone Classic, fourth at the Binghamton Open and seventh at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Popple has just joined the Harvard lineup and is 4-2 with a pair of technical falls and one fall.
Cornell has been ranked fifth in the country all season long and will enter Friday's matchup with a perfect 5-0 mark. The Big Red most recently defeated No. 22 Binghamton, 22-21, needing to win on criteria after the teams finished the dual tied at 21. Cornell has also defeated No. 4 Minnesota, 21-16, Lehigh, 24-12, Penn, 21-17, and Princeton, 30-9, this season. Four Big Red are currently featured in the individual rankings, including Kyle Dake and Cam Simaz who are ranked No. 1 at 157 lbs. and 184 lbs., respectively. Steve Bosak is listed as the third-ranked 184-pounder in the land while Frank Perrelli is No. 6 at 125 lbs.