This weekend, the Muhlenberg wrestling team began competition in their 2017-2018 season. The team placed sixth out of 12 teams at the Ned McGinley Invitational Tournament at Kings College. This year the team will be competing under the reign of new Head Coach McLean, who is a former collegiate wrestler himself and a Muhlenberg wrestling alum. There are high expectations for the team this season, and they all have a lot to look forward to. For the seniors, who have finally reached their final season as Muhlenberg student-athletes, this a very sentimental time for them. They know that this is their last opportunity to give everything they have out on the mat, but the overwhelming feeling is that they are excited for this chance to continue to prove themselves. In addition to improving on individual results, the graduating class of 2018 hopes to bring success for the overall team as well.
Benjamin Peck ’18 is looking forward to his last go-around with the Mules and views this season as an opportunity to leave the school on a positive note.
“The seniors are excited to end our Muhlenberg wrestling careers on a high note. We have been through three different coaching situations and really saw the wrestling program develop into what it is today. The seniors are ready to have a fun season and win some titles,” said Peck.
In addition to performing well at the matches, this group of seniors is also looking to have fun this year, to really enjoy the ride as collegiate student-athletes. Fellow senior Logan Laughlin ’18 expressed this sentiment when asked what this season means to him.
“Speaking for my fellow seniors we’ve been told by Coach Sonnie to just work hard and enjoy every bit of the year and that he is gonna try and make sure it can be as enjoyable as possible for us,” he said.
Despite the excitement of the seniors for this season, they are not the only wrestlers on the team who are looking forward to beginning a new year out on the mat. Rob Armus ’19, who was unable to compete for most of last season with an injury, is excited to get back to competing. He foresees a dominant year for this year’s squad.
“The seniors are excited to end our Muhlenberg wrestling careers on a high note. We have been through three different coaching situations and really saw the wrestling program develop into what it is today. The seniors are ready to have a fun season and win some titles,” – Ben Peck ’18
“I firmly believe that the wrestling team is going to have a breakout season this year with the amount of talent we have developed, and the potential of the underclassmen. I think Gennaro Cerminara, Ben Peck, Jimmy Fratantoni, Dylan Schwartz and Jake Gordon and myself are all due for breakout years, barring any injuries which have been a problem for our team in the past,” he said.
Although Armus is only a junior, he has formed close bonds with many of the elder wrestlers on the team. He has relished the opportunity to receive advice from them throughout his three years thus far at Muhlenberg.
“There’s really nothing I need to say to the seniors that could help them at this point. Obviously I support them in every way and I’m always down to give a solid pump-up speech, but honestly I’m learning the most from them. Especially Ben Peck and Jake Gordon. I have been able to get really close to them, and to see the amount of work they have put in, and the comfortability with which they compete knowing that they’ve been around the block a few times is inspiring,” said Armus.
While these wrestlers have all been on the team for at least several seasons, Coach McLean is set to begin his first year as the team’s new head coach. Even before the opening match, McLean was addressing the need for the team to maintain a positive mindset and to have a team-first attitude.
“I’m always down to give a solid pump-up speech, but honestly I’m learning the most from them” – Rob Armus ’19
When asked what he was most excited for upon commencing the season, McLean said, “The opportunity to get Muhlenberg to where its supposed to be. The opportunity to surpass expectations and the challenges that entails.” He also made sure to not pinpoint any one match on the schedule just yet. His mentality is to treat every match as important as the next and to continue putting in the time, effort, and work that is necessary to improve the Muhlenberg Wrestling program. He especially made it a point of emphasis to make the program intriguing to potential recruits. When a recruit is considering joining the Mules wrestling team, he wants them to think, “Muhlenberg is where I need to be.”
With a determined roster and a head coach that brings the perfect approach to the team, this could be one of the best seasons in program history. Although they will continue to take it one match at a time, Armus said that the team still has some impressive goals that they believe are more than attainable. He thinks that the team can reach new heights this season.
“The overall goals for the team this season are to have the wrestling team’s first winning record in over 10 years, place top five at conferences, and to push more than one person through regionals into the national tournament this year. Some of those goals are lofty, but with our fantastic new coaching staff made up of All-Americans that are training us like All-Americans, we believe more and more every day that it is possible.”