photo courtesy of the Muhlenberg Athletics Department

Throughout the 2021-22 year, the Muhlenberg wrestling team has dealt with a variety of challenging circumstances. The team has both their freshman and sophomores experiencing the college wrestling scene for the first time in their collegiate careers. However, despite the ups and downs, the wrestling team continued to wrestle over the winter break. 

Yongbue Goodall-Tanco ‘22 reflected upon Head Coach Jason McLean’s ‘01 mindset heading into the second half of their season. He said, “A big facet of McLean’s dogma this year has been starting fresh. We have an incredibly young team with two years worth of wrestlers who are only now experiencing college-level competition. McLean made sure we wrestled a plethora of really good teams early in the season like JWU [Johnson & Wales University], Central [College], and NYU [New York University] to help avoid complacency.”

Ryan Kaplow ‘23 reflected on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the team during winter break. He said, “​​The recent outbreak so far has not affected the team in competing at the highest level so far since Coach McLean communicates with us about what he wants us to do in making sure to protect ourselves from any exposure. However, during winter break we lost the ability to compete at one tournament due to that college having multiple outbreaks with other schools that were planning on attending.” 

Since the wrestling team had matches over break, they had to deal with adjusting COVID-19 protocols and the rise of the omicron variant. Goodall-Tanco shared his perspective on the effect that the pandemic has had on the team. He said, “I don’t think COVID has stopped us from competing at our best at all. The biggest issue with COVID was early in the season: practice groups were split into two groups since our team is bigger than ever before and social functions slowed down substantially. Traveling with smaller rosters and fielding fewer exhibition matches has caused the schedule to become more hectic as we look for ways to get everyone mat time. Schools have pulled out of meets and matches have been postponed, resulting in a lot of matches being scheduled in rapid succession. But regardless of all of these factors, the energy in the room and on the mat has remained consistent. We want to win and we’re willing to put in all the work necessary to do that, pandemic or not.”

Kaplow spoke about the relationship between the wrestlers and the coaching staff in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, “Coach McLean has talked to all of us about following the COVID-19 policies on campus and if we go off campus to make sure to protect ourselves and the Muhlenberg community. He has stressed that following these protocols also make it easier for us to continue to practice and compete.” Kaplow and other members of the team recognize the always-evolving nature of the pandemic, and each wrestler is prepared to be willing to change given the protocols. 

Sean Quaye ‘25 expressed a bit of a different statement when it came to reflecting upon the current COVID-19 outbreak. Quaye said, “The recent outbreak of COVID was just another obstacle the team had to hurdle and navigate around to accomplish our mission of being great. It’s annoying and inconvenient at times but that doesn’t stop our guys from being absolute hammers on the mat.”

On Thursday Jan. 27, they faced off against Delaware Valley. Goodall-Tanco shared his thoughts on his personal approach as well as the approach of the team. He said, “We’ve been laser-focused on gearing our program for future success and not getting complacent with past achievements.”

Quaye is on the mat for the first time at ‘Berg. He is enjoying his experience so far, and touched on his expectations with the team so far. He said, “My experience wrestling as a Mule has surpassed the individual expectations I had for my collegiate wrestling experience. The room is full of talent and dedicated guys. As far as team expectations go I believe we have performed well, especially when winning as a team and running the team scoreboard up at tournaments.”

The Mules are taking strides to continue to improve for the rest of their season, they will be hosting the Ursinus College Bears at Memorial Hall Thursday Feb. 3. 


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