The Muhlenberg wrestling team has finished a remarkable regular season, soundly beating their final two conference opponents, Merchant Marine and Johns Hopkins. The Mules finished atop the conference standings with a perfect 6-0 record in Conference play as well as with a remarkable regular season record of 18-4.
The wins come after falling to SUNY Brockport and Roger Williams University at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), which ended a ten-match winning streak. Scott Schaeffer ’20 credits the team’s preparation in the weight room and wrestling room during the week leading up to their final meet of the regular season as a key to victory. “After our rough weekend at WPI, we got back to work in the weight room and wrestling room this past week. We knew we needed a good week of practice to prepare for the upcoming weekend,” Schaeffer said.
Finishing first in the regular season is an accomplishment the Mules have not achieved since 2001. During the previous decade, the Mules were consistent bottom-dwellers in the Centennial Conference. After exceeding expectations during last year’s season, the Mules had their best season since 2009. With the majority of their top wrestlers returning, expectations were higher than ever for this season. The Mules once again surpassed those expectations after they were projected to finish third in the conference during the pre-season. For Schaeffer, the conference-clinching wins over the weekend at his final conference dual-match reminded him about the tremendous progress the program has executed during his Muhlenberg career.
“Going 6-0 in the conference was a great way to end conference duals for the seniors,” Shaeffer said. “We were projected last in the conference last year, and it feels great to prove to everyone what Muhlenberg wrestling is about. We have known for a long time how good of a team we were, but just never turned the corner. This year we are turning the corner, and going 6-0 in the conference was a great way to show it,” he added.
The next challenge awaiting the Mules is the Centennial Conference Championships taking place at Memorial Hall on Saturday, Feb. 15. Last year, the Mules finished fourth at the Conference Championships finishing one point behind Merchant Marine and had three first-place finishes from Gennaro Cerminara ‘19, Dylan Schwartz ‘20 and Jimmy Fratantoni ‘20. Austin Sherman ‘20 and Josh Hickey ‘20 also wrestled well at the Conference Championships, finishing third and fourth respectively in their weight classes. With many returners from last year’s squads, as well as the emergence of younger wrestlers, the Mules believe they can win the conference and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
Schaeffer states that, “Our goals for the Centennial Conference Tournament remain the same as they have been all year. We came so close to the top three last year, and it made us want to win more. We were so close to proving to everyone that this Muhlenberg wrestling is different than previous years. This year, we will do that at home by winning the conference in our own gym.”
While the conference championships will be the most competitive meet the Mules participate in this year, their weekly preparation will remain the same as it has been the entire season, and the Mules will treat this weekend’s match in the same manner. Schaeffer exclaims, “This weekend is no different than any other weekend we have wrestled. It’s just another day out on the job, so our preparation will be the same as it has been all year.”
Looking to add another remarkable achievement to their mantle, the Mules will hit the mats for the Centennial Conference Championships beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15 at Memorial Hall.