On Feb. 23 and 24, the Muhlenberg wrestling team competed at the NCAA Mideast Regional in Brockport, N.Y. The team wound up finishing sixth of 18 programs and was in fourth at the conclusion of the first day.
Though many Mules wrestled well, Jimmy Fratantoni ‘19 stood out in particular as he not only went 2-0 on Saturday and narrowly lost his decision in overtime on Sunday, but he also defeated the same wrestler from Stevens as he did in the Centennial Conference Championships. This weekend’s results were particularly invigorating to Fratantoni himself after all he has been through, both leading up to and over the course of his collegiate career.
“I was injured halfway through my senior year in high school and for my entire freshman year. I was also hurt during post season of both my sophomore and junior years. So I had to battle through a lot of adversity over the years. However, I made an effort to remain optimistic, as it made me hungry to get back on the mat this season,” the redshirt senior said.
Fratantoni also stressed that all of his coaches at Muhlenberg have served as both tremendous sources of support and have been there to make sure the team stays focused.
“(Coach McLean) has been a huge influence on me over the past few years. He is the type of coach who can joke around with the team but when it’s go time, he doesn’t mess around. He’s also not afraid to be straight up with you and tell you what needs to be improved even if it’s not what you want to hear,” said Fratantoni.
“Coach Andrew Drake has also been a huge proponent of my wrestling success. Both these guys have been mentors to me on and off the mat along with Coach Blanco, Coach Lally and all of my high school coaches.”
Although this season may have drawn to a close, it is not the end of Fratantoni’s collegiate career. Despite being classified as a senior, he will be back next season as he retained a year of eligibility due to injury.
The team is in a tremendous position to improve as a program. Just this season they flipped a 7-9 team record to an 18-7 clip. In the 2019-2020 season the roster is set to retain a whopping 27 of 29 athletes, including up and coming rookies such as Adam Lizak ‘22 and Luca Colestock ‘22.
Unfortunately, one of those two not returning is a team leader, Gennaro Cerminara ‘19. After day one at regionals the senior had reached his 49th career pin, one shy of the school record. In his last ever collegiate match at the end of day two Cerminara earned a share of the top spot in the record books. While battling for fifth place in the MidEast region, Cerminara pinned his opponent from SUNY Oneonta which ties him for the most pins in a Muhlenberg College career with Bill Holsinger ‘02.
With the returning core, expecting the Mules to be a top team in the region again is reasonable. Aside from Fratantoni, Austin Sherman ‘20, Dylan Schwartz ‘20, Scott Schaeffer ‘20, and Brian Jamison ‘20 will all be returners who have a regional medal on their mantel.
“For the most part, I am happy with my success this past season considering I was able to completely finish my first full collegiate season,” Fratantoni said when reflecting on his accomplishments journey to this point in his career. “However, I definitely still have a lot to work on for next year in order to accomplish my goals.”