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Harvard's Peppelman Shines at Lone Star Duals

By Max N. Brondfield, Crimson Staff Writer

One star may have fallen, but another is on the rise.

Just days after junior Corey Jantzen suffered a serious elbow injury that put his season in jeopardy, classmate and co-captain Walter Peppelman dominated at the Lone Star Duals in Arlington, Texas, going undefeated Saturday over the three-match competition.

Peppelman, currently ranked 11th in the country, may see that number climb after dominating a slate of talented opponents.

“I felt like I wrestled pretty well,” the co-captain said. “I’m starting to do things on the mat that we’ve been working on in the [practice] room, so I was happy with the result.”

The Crimson wrestling team (0-8) did not fare as well, dropping a tight match to Appalachian State, 22-17, before falling in lopsided contests against No. 7 Oklahoma, 33-8, and Stanford, 35-10.

“I had mixed emotions,” said Harvard coach Jay Weiss about the Lone Star tournament. “Losing Corey really hurts…but we really make a plan to get better every time we go on the mat, especially with a young team, and we did that at some points.”

STANFORD 35, HARVARD 10

The Cardinal wrestling team (7-6) capped off a strong showing with its third win in four matches, putting the match against the Crimson out of reach early. With three top-20 grapplers on its roster, Stanford posted three falls and a pair of major decisions among its eight victories, frustrating Weiss.

“I didn’t feel that we wrestled well against Stanford,” the coach said. “Individually, some guys really shined.”

One of those grapplers was rookie Cameron Croy (184 lbs.), who took his opponent Dan Schere down to the wire in a 2-0 loss. And of course, the talented Cardinal squad had no answer for Peppelman (157). The Harvard junior posted a 9-0 major decision on Kyle Meyer, bringing his total score to 42-0 on the day.

“That’s unbelievable, that’s tremendous,” Weiss responded when told of the lopsided stats. “Walter had a tremendous day. Now he’s taking those major jumps.”

Unfortunately for the Crimson, Peppelman’s victory would be the team’s last on the mat. Co-captain Andrew Knapp (285) added a win by forfeit, but Stanford emerged with a comfortable 25-point margin.

NO. 7 OKLAHOMA 33, HARVARD 8

The seventh-ranked Sooners presented a tall order in the Crimson’s second match of the day, boasting seven top-20 grapplers. Sophomore Steven Keith (125) held his own against No. 7 Jarrod Patterson, but the Oklahoma native escaped with a 7-4 decision. No. 19 Jordan Keller (133) and sixth-ranked Zach Bailey (141) followed up with big wins, but Peppelman refused to be intimidated by the Sooners’ slate of ranked grapplers. Instead, the Harvard co-captain turned the tables on No. 6 Chase Nelson, dominating the former junior college national champion in a 17-0 technical fall.

Peppelman moved to 13-3 on the season, with seven of those wins coming against wrestlers ranked 16th or higher.

“Walter had a goal to knock off someone in the top 20…but then he started knocking those guys off every time,” Weiss said. “Placing in the [NCAA] tournament is 75 percent confidence, and now he’s thinking he can do this.”

The win was another bright spot for the Crimson, but fourth-ranked Tyler Caldwell (165) ensured that Oklahoma maintained control. The grappler posted a technical fall of his own against rookie Erik Gobbo, who was filling in for ailing sophomore Adam Hogue. But Gobbo’s classmate bounced right back, as Ian Roy (174) earned his second win of the day with a 4-2 decision over Sooner Jeff James.

“Ian Roy wrestled really well,” Peppelman said. “The young guys have really stepped up, but we still have a lot to work on.”

Croy followed up with another close loss at 184 lbs., as Oklahoma swept the final three bouts to seal the win.

APPALACHIAN STATE 22, HARVARD 17

The Crimson kicked off the Lone Star duals with its closest match of the day, falling by five to the Mountaineers (6-7). Keith and sophomore Shay Warren (133) began the contest with a pair of decisions—staking Harvard to a 6-0 lead—but Appalachian State answered right back, as rookies Joe Marino (141) and Joe Alie (149) suffered a 6-3 decision and a fall, respectively. Peppelman’s 16-0 blanking of Mountaineer John Blakely put the Crimson back in the lead, but the junior would be the last Harvard grappler to earn crucial bonus points. Roy and Knapp both earned gritty victories, but a fall at 165 lbs., a major decision at 184, and a loss at 197 gave Appalachian State the final edge.

Yet despite the Crimson’s team struggles in dual competition, the emergence of another legitimate star has the program in the spotlight just a year after JP O’Connor took home a national title.

“[Peppelman] is understanding that he can beat anybody,” Weiss said. “Confidence is the thing that’s going to carry him. He’s always had the talent, and now he has that confidence.”

—Staff writer Max N. Brondfield can be reached at mbrondf@fas.harvard.edu.

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