On Saturday, Apr. 13 Muhlenberg College’s John Deitrich Field House hosted its annual athletics Hall of Fame ceremony for the 2019 inductees. This year’s class featured five individual athletes representing and the 2005-06 Centennial Conference championship winning women’s basketball team.
Karen Gratrix ‘91, Bill Holsinger ‘02, Angela Tyson ‘02, Chuck Draper ‘02, Eric Santagato ‘09 represent five different athletic programs, and both Draper and Gratrix were multisport athletes, playing baseball and football, and field hockey and softball respectively.
Gratrix was dominant in both of the programs she was a part of from 1986-1991. On the diamond, Gratix still ranks among the all time leaders for different offensive categories. She is currently 13th all time with 66 RBI in her career, and once had a six RBI game which ties for the second most in a single game ever. Gratrix also had a fantastic eye at the plate, finishing with 46 walks on her career which places her in the top 15 of all time.
Gratrix’s defence also helped her stand out, as she finished with the eighth highest fielding percentage in program history (.980) as a first basemen. Her honors as a softball player include a first-team All-MAC Southeast nominations in 1990 and 1991 while earning all-region honors in her final campaign. During her time in the program the team had a record of 92-29 and made three NCAA tournament appearances.
As a member of the field hockey team Gratrix made the players around her better. She assisted 12 goals in the 1989 season, which still is the most assists in a single season. Overall Gratrix ranks tied for eighth all time on the assists leaderboard.
Gratrix joins her twin sister, Elaine Gratrix ‘89, in the hall after both sister’s successful Muhlenberg softball and field hockey careers.
A standout on the mat, Holsinger and the teams he was on achieved great success. Debatably the best wrestler in the history of the college, Holsinger holds the career and single season record for wins with 118 and 37 respectively. He has 22 more wins than the next former Mule on the career win leaderboard. Holsinger also is tied for the program career record with 50 pins.
Holsinger was a leader on and off of the mat, and served as a team captain for three seasons because of that. Wrestling at 141 and 149 during his career Holsinger participated in the 2002 NCAA championships and finished 14 different tournaments in the top three.
Tyson was a force on the rubber for the Muhlenberg softball team. Her numbers stand out. She appeared in the third most games in program history (84), and recorded the third lowest ERA (2.14) as well. She is one of six pitchers to earn 40 wins in a career while throwing 65 complete games – one short of the program record.
Her time at Muhlenberg, though, meant more than the games played. “I loved being a student athlete. It was the life I knew as a high school student,” said Tyson. “It was a great transition to enter college with a built in ‘family’ in my team and coaches. Many of my teammates are still close friends.” Sweeping Moravian and the road trips on spring break and to away games were highlights, but a moment Tyson will never forget came at the end of her last game when she knew her stretch of time playing with her beloved teammates was over.
And how about this, even while throwing 12 shutouts she threw (fourth in the softball program’s history), 503.2 innings pitched (second on all-time list) , and 302 strikeouts (third most all-time) tossed during her career, Tyson was not expecting the honors.
“I was shocked to be individually inducted. I thought initially that it was the 2000 team being inducted,” Tyson said. “I am humbled and shocked and honored to be listed among other softball greats like Elizabeth Billie, the Gratrix sisters, and Becki Toth, among others.”
Draper, the second two sport athlete inducted in 2019, stood out in baseball and football landing on the leaderboard for both sports.
On the diamond Draper was a career .356 hitter (10th all time), hitting .405 his freshman year. He crossed home 119 times which is fifth best in the programs history. In two separate seasons the outfielder scored at least 30 times. He also has the fourth most hits (176) in a career, 54 of which were extra base knocks. His 14 homers are also fourth most in the baseball programs history. Draper employed a no fly zone in the outfields he patrolled with a fantastic .978 career fielding percentage.
On the gridiron, Draper finished his career on both of the leaderboards for receptions a yards received in a three season career.
Santagato was the most recent graduate inducted into the Muhlenberg Athletics Hall of Fame as one of the best quarterbacks to receive snaps as a Mule. He is one of two quarterbacks to ever have a completion rate above .600. Santagato’s 40 touchdown passes are fifth in Muhlenberg history, and 6,152 yards are third. Twice, Santagato has finished a season with over 2,000 yards – only three other Mule QB’s have been able to sustain that type of aerial attack.
A captain during his junior and senior seasons, the 2008 team won a Centennial Conference championship with Santagato under center. A two time Centennial Conference honeree, he was named honorable mention his junior season and first team in his senior year. Overall the teams Santagato played on won 25 games.
Finally, the 2005-06 women’s basketball team led by current Mules head coach Ron Rohn. It was the first of what is now eight CC championships during the Rohn era. The 05-06 team’s final record was 26-3, and went two seperate 11 game win streaks before falling to the eighth best team in the nation in the NCAA tournament. They excelled in close games, winning 14 of 15 games decided by 10 points or less, and they played lockdown defense, allowing 52 points per game.
Two of the teams seniors, Tiffany Kirk ‘06 and Steph Coluccini ‘06 both consider the conference championship victory their favorite Muhlenberg memory. “We had worked so hard that year. I remember explicit moments in the game that helped us achieve of goal, and it was the ultimate culmination of years of dedication. I actually think I kissed the gym floor after that game,” explained Coluccini.
Overall, the pair is thrilled that the group is being recognized as a whole. “That season is one of my favorite memories in life. It felt great to hear that the school appreciates the hard work we put in and accomplishments we made that year,” said Kirk. “Because of the insane success of the team that year I did hope to be inducted in the Hall of Fame one day. I am extremely honored and thankful to be part of such a talented group of athletes,” she added.
Coluccini also recognized the 2005-06 team as the start of a new era of Muhlenberg women’s basketball. “Coach Rohn and his staff helped put Muhlenberg on the map for Women’s DIII basketball and I couldn’t be more proud.”
With this year’s inductees safely enshrined on the walls of the life sports center their legacies are sure to be remembered by everyone who walks through the building’s solar corridor. The recognition is well deserved for all of the impressive accomplishments. “Every student athlete deserves recognition because the dedication to do both takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and heart to keep pushing,” said Coluccini.
Statistics and player facts found on Muhlenberg College Athletics website.