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Christmas was still more than a week away when Princeton last wrestled at Dillon Gym. The Tigers will finally get to compete in front of their home fans this Alumni Weekend, and they will do so three times, including twice in Ivy League showdowns.
Coming off its first dual win of the season, a 31-7 road win at Franklin & Marshall, Princeton will take on Sacred Heart Friday at 7 pm. The Pioneers are winless on the season, but they are a young squad led by first-year head coach Andy Lausier, who spent four years as the Princeton assistant coach under Chris Ayres.
On Saturday, Princeton will face a pair of Ivy League opponents when it hosts Brown at 10 am and Harvard at 2:30 pm.
Brown is 6-5 on the season and is led by sophomore Ophir Bernstein, who has 14 victories at 184 pounds. Junior Billy Watterson has 12 wins at 125 pounds; Watterson was a 2012 EIWA semifinalist, though he was pinned by Princeton's Garrett Frey in the third period.
Princeton has won two of the last three meetings with Brown, though the Bears rallied with four pins in the final five matches last season to capture a 28-21 home victory. In the last meeting at Dillon Gym, Princeton needed to win five of the final six matches to claim the team win. Both Dan Santoro and Charles Fox earned 3-1 wins in the final two matches to clinch the 21-16 win.
Harvard is 2-4 on the season, though it pushed seventh-ranked Cornell two weeks ago in a 24-15 loss. The Crimson has a pair of wrestlers with legitimate All-America aspirations. Senior Walter Peppelman has more than 100 career wins and is currently ranked eighth at 157 pounds, while classmate Steven Keith has a team-best 22 wins this season and is ranked 13th at 141. Junior Cameron Croy is unranked at 174, though he has 21 wins this year.
The Harvard-Princeton rivalry has been dominated by the road team over the last four years. Last season, Daniel Kolodzik scored a major decision over Peppelman to lead the Tigers to a 25-14 win over the Crimson; that victory pushed Kolodzik to a spot on the All-Ivy League first team.
Princeton will be looking to continue building momentum into the heart of February and, ultimately, the EIWA Championships (Mar. 8-9 at Rutgers). Freshman Scott Gibbons can hit the 20-win mark with two victories this weekend, while Santoro, a hero in the Brown dual two seasons ago, has won seven of his last nine matches. Santoro is scheduled to be a guest on TigerCast later this week to talk about the season and expectations for the final month of the season.