The Muhlenberg Wrestling team took second place at the Centennial Conference Championship, the program’s best finish at the tournament since their second-place finish in 2007. Austin Sherman ’20, Scott Schaeffer ‘20 and Luca Colestock ‘22 all placed first in their respective weight classes to take home their first career individual titles. Brian Jamison ‘20 finished second while Jimmy Fratantoni ‘20 and Dylan Schwartz ‘20 finished third to round out a solid overall performance for the Mules.
Just a few years ago, the Mules finished towards the bottom of the conference standings. However, over the last two years, the Mules have become one of the top programs in the Centennial Conference, as they have finished in the top half of the conference championships, including six individual first-place finishes during that span. The Mules have also become one of the top programs at the national level, as they have earned both individual national rankings as well as a national ranking as a team in the National Wrestling Coaches Individual Poll.
Fratantoni, who has been with the program for five years after receiving a medical redshirt due to an injury his freshman season, credits the coaching staff for helping to revive the program and bringing in a larger roster of wrestlers.
“Every year, the program has been lucky to have passionate coaches who strived to make the team better,” Fratantoni said. “Coach Jason McLean, Coach Guesseppe and Coach Drake have put countless hours into the program and it’s finally starting to show. Entering my freshman year, we had less than twenty people on the team. Now, we are pushing over thirty kids and continuing to grow. I am excited for what Muhlenberg wrestling has to bring to the table in the next couple years.”
Sherman, who has had an excellent career since arriving at Muhlenberg, credits the hard work his teammates display in the wrestling room as a major motivating factor for the Mules to improve each year both in conference and nationally. “It’s been an amazing four years being able to help rebuild Muhlenberg Wrestling. We’re one of the best programs in the country, not just the conference, and having guys in our practice room like [Dylan] Schwartz, Frat [Fratantoni], Luca [Colestock], J-mo [Jamison], Scott [Schaeffer] and [Josh] Hickey forces me to jump levels.”
While the Mules are proud of their accomplishments up to this point, they now turn their focus to the Mideast Regionals at Ithaca College taking place from Feb. 29 – Mar. 1. Last year, the Mules finished in sixth place at the Mideast Regionals, their best finish since the NCAA revived the regional format for the 2012-2013 season. They also had six wrestlers make the podium at regionals, and five of those wrestlers are returners hoping to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Sherman has shifted his focus solely to the upcoming national tournaments and believes that both he and his teammates will continue their dominance in Ithaca. “I’ve always held myself to the highest standard possible, so I’m not proud yet. I’m happy for this program and the role I’ve gotten to play in it, but we have regionals in a few weeks, and the NCAA’s not too long after that. With any luck, my next contribution to The Muhlenberg Weekly will be after my teammates and I make some noise on the national scene. I believe in our guys,” Sherman said.
This coming week, the Mules host the Northeast/Mideast Futures Tournament on Sunday, Feb. 23, where wrestlers who won’t compete in the Mideast Regionals will wrestle for the final time this season. The following week, the Mules will travel to Ithaca and compete at the Mideast Regionals, hoping to continue their domination at the national level and attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championships.