Ascend Brings Ivy League Wrestling to Long Island

Ascend’s Chief Wrestling Officer Craig Vitagliano, a 1995 Harvard graduate, announced today that clinicians J.P. O’Connor and Walter Peppelman will lead the Crimson contingent for a week-long, intensive wrestling program at Ascend’s newly opened headquarters in Hicksville.


“I’m looking to bring some of the best clinicians in the region down for some first-class training,” said Vitagliano.  “At the same time, we’re going to erase some of the mystique that surrounds the Harvard name.  Long Island has some extremely well rounded kids, and this is a great opportunity for them to learn how to leverage on-the-mat success as part of the college admissions process.”

AscendO’Connor, currently an assistant wrestling coach for Harvard, is one of the most celebrated wrestlers in New York history, winning four state crowns at Oxford Academy before an outstanding career with the Crimson capped by an undefeated season and national title in 2010.  Peppelman, currently an analyst at Deutsche Bank, was a two-time All American for the Crimson.

“This camp is important for the kids but also for the parents,” said Vitagliano. “Exposure like this makes Harvard and the Ivy League more tangible, realistic, and possible.”

In addition to O’Connor and Peppelman, the camp will also feature counselors Todd Preston and Eric Morris, as well as Long Island natives Tyler Grimaldi and Paul Ligouri.  Before arriving in Cambridge, Grimaldi was the first state champion from Half Hollow Hills West and Ligouri was a two-time state champion out of Wantagh.  Preston, a Hampton, New Jersey native, is the reigning Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association champion at 141 pounds, and Morris, a two-time prep national champion out of Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Seminary, was named the team’s most promising freshman this year.

The camp will take place at Ascend’s new headquarters.  Covering 6,200 square feet, the space is Long Island’s largest wrestling room and enables the club to host one of the country’s most diverse collections of wrestlers in what Vitagliano calls “the leadership laboratory.”

For more information, contact Ascend at 917-449-6098 or email

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