In one of wrestling’s biggest weekends of the year, Harvard (2-15) left it all on the mat at the EIWA Championships this weekend. The two-day event at the Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, Pa., on Saturday and Sunday was what the season was all about for a young Crimson team.
“Everything we do comes down to this week,” Harvard coach Jay Weiss said.
Overall, Harvard finished 10th out of 13 teams in the championship with 47.5 points. Cornell wiped out the competition, winning the championship with 173.5 points. Lehigh came in second with 119 points, followed closely by Rutgers in third place with 116.5 points.
“I think we did OK,” sophomore co-captain Walter Peppelman said. “Everyone wrestled hard.”
Co-captain Andrew Knapp seemed to have similar feelings. While pleased with the effort of the team, he still thought the team had some improvements to make.
“We didn’t quite do as well as we wanted to,” Knapp said.
The Crimson’s highest finisher for the weekend was fifth-seeded sophomore Steven Keith, who finished in fourth place in the 125-lb. bracket. After an 11-4 win over Brown’s Teodoro Popilizio in the first round, Keith lost a tight 6-5 match to Navy’s fourth-seeded Aaron Kalil.
But Keith battled back in the consolation matchups, picking up a 6-2 victory over American’s seventh-seeded Naryman Arujau and another win over Princeton’s third-seeded Garret Frey. Despite the momentum from the wins, Keith fell again, 8-1, to Kalil in the third place matchup to take home fourth place.
“Steven’s one of our toughest guys,” Knapp said. “He wrestles the way you’re supposed to wrestle.”
The only Harvard wrestler to make it to the semifinals after the first day was Peppelman, the third seed in his weight class (157 lbs.). Peppelman won his first match easily with a pin in just 32 seconds over Franklin & Marshall’s Eric Norgard.
“I was pleased with my first match,” Peppelman said.
Despite a 6-1 victory over Princeton’s sixth-seeded Daniel Kolodzik in the quarterfinals, Peppelman said he was not as content with his performance in this second match. Peppelman went on to drop his semifinal match to Navy’s second-seeded Bryce Saddoris in a 5-1 loss.
Going into Sunday’s matches, Peppelman had a simple strategy.
“Wrestle hard,” said Peppelman, who will compete in the NCAA Championships starting next Thursday, March 17.
After dropping his first consolation semifinal match to Cornell’s DJ Meagher, Peppelman earned fifth place, pulling off a quick pin in 37 seconds against the Tigers’ Kolodzik.