Keystone Classic Preview: 125/133/141 Pounds

PHILADELPHIA – The 2015 Keystone Classic is this Sunday in The Palestra, with 13 teams competing in a premier early-season wrestling tournament.

In addition to the host University of Pennsylvania program, No. 21 (Tournament Rankings) Northwestern, Indiana, Pittsburgh, Drexel, Rider, Bloomsburg, Harvard, Franklin & Marshall, Eastern Michigan, Appalachian State, VMI, and Sacred Heart will compete in the tournament.

Last year, four teams competing at this season’s Keystone Classic finished in the Top-30 at NCAAs – Northwestern (No. 15), Pitt (No. 21), Indiana (No. 24), and Rider (No. 27).

Leading up the tournament, will preview each weight class and highlight key entrants expected to compete for the title. Up first will be 125, 133, and 141 pounds.

125 Pounds: Definitely a weight that is up for grabs, 125 pounds does not have any Top-20 wrestlers entered. Drexel’s Zack Fuentes was eighth last years at EIWAs at 125, and is coming off a fourth place finish at the Road Runner Open in California. In addition, he has a 5-3 loss to No. 4 Zeke Moisey (West Virginia) on his resume this season. Indiana’s Elijah Oliver is off to a good start to his collegiate career, with a second place finish at the EMU Open. Eastern Michigan is likely to enter Vincent Pizzuto, a former NCAA qualifier at 133, at 125 pounds. EMU also boasts Noah Gonser, who won the EMU Open and was third at the MSU Open. Sacred Heart’s Gerard Daley was second at the Bearcat Open to begin this season, while Pitt is likely to enter freshman L.J. Bentley who was No. 20 overall at 126 pounds last season while competing at St. Edward’s High School in Ohio.

133 Pounds: The host team is likely to have the top seed at this weight, with Caleb Richardson entering the tournament as the lone ranked wrestler, coming in at No. 16 this week. A two-time NCAA qualifier, Richardson leads three returning NCAA qualifiers in the weight class. Northwestern will enter Dominick Malone, also a two-time NCAA qualifier, while Rider’s Robert Deutsch is a three-time qualifier. Deutsch is 0-3 this season, but two losses have come to Top-20 opponents. Freshman Bennie Pachello is off to a good start for VMI, finishing sixth at the Hokie Open, posting four wins with bonus points along the way. Drexel will factor into this weight class, entering David Pearce. A NCAA qualifier at 141 last season, Pearce won the Road Runner Open last week. Another former NCAA qualifier at a different weight, Dom Forys of Pitt, is also likely to get involved after bumping up from 125. Harvard’s Jeffrey Ott was 4-1 at the Binghamton Open to begin his season, the lone loss coming to Nahshon Garrett of Cornell.

141 Pounds: There three clear contenders for the crown at this weight, led by Harvard’s Todd Preston. Ranked No. 11 this week, Preston was the 2014 EIWA champion at 141 and was on his way to a second NCAA bid before suffering an injury at EIWAs in March. Franklin & Marshall’s Richard Durso was an All-American at 141 in 2014, and won EIWAs in 2013. A three-time NCAA qualifier, Durso is looking to find his footing after missing all of 2014-15 from collegiate competition. Drexel’s Kevin Devoy was the EIWA champion at 133 pounds last season, and finished in the Round of 12 at NCAAs. A two-time NCAA qualifier, he is up to 141 this season. Northwestern will be in the mix with Jameson Oster, a NCAA qualifier last season who is 3-0 to begin this campaign. VMI’s Darren Ostrander was sixth at the Hokie Open to begin 2015-16, while Appalachian State will enter Michael Longo, the 2015 SoCon champion and NCAA qualifier. Pittsburgh has two wrestlers who could factor into the action if entered – Nick Zanetta and Mikey Racciato. Zanetta won the ESU Open and is 7-0 to begin the season, while Racciato was the ACC champ at 149 last season.

Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday in The Palestra. Tickets are on sale now, and are $10 in advance of the tournament and $15 at the door. Live streaming of the tournament will begin at 5 p.m. on Sunday on the Ivy League Digital Network and continue through the championship finals which are expected to begin at 6 p.m.