The Muhlenberg wrestling season came to an end with Dylan Schwartz ‘20 placing sixth at the 2018 NCAA Mideast Regional for the 165 lbs. weight class.
The Mules had more representation at regionals than just Schwartz, however. Austin Sherman ‘20 and Gennaro Cerminara ‘19 also made it to this stage of the tournament, however both lost their respective matches on day two. Sherman was defeated in a nail-biting decision to a Scranton University wrestler he fell to earlier in the season, while Cerminara lost to an opponent from Elizabethtown College.
Schwartz’s performance in Ithaca is the best by a Mule wrestler since regional tournaments were first introduced by the NCAA in 2011. After posting a 2-1 record on the first day of competition, Schwartz began the second day with a decision victory over a Centenary University wrestler. He then dropped both of the next two matches by close decision to finish sixth overall. Schwartz concluded his sophomore campaign with a record of 36-14, just one win short of the school record for most wins in a season set by Bill Holsinger in the 2001 season.
Prior to the second day regionals, all three wrestlers had advanced past the first day of competition, as the team scrapped their way through some tough matchups. Cerminara, along Schwartz, went 2-1, while Sherman finished 1-1 on the day to avoid elimination.
Schwartz started the first day with a close 6-3 defeat against a Merchant Marine wrestler, but rallied in his next match to win by majority decision over a SUNY Oneonta opponent. Schwartz capped his day with a 7-2 decision against an Rochester Institute of Technology adversary. He improved his season win total to 35, the second-most ever by a Mule wrestler in a season.
Cerminara was victorious his opening match by pinning his opponent from Stevens Institute of Technology. He then lost via a pin to the sixth-ranked wrestler from Brockport College. He bounced back however, defeating an opponent from The College of New Jersey with another fall. Cerminara finished the year with 18 pins, bringing him to 35 for his career — tied for the third in school history. His 32 wins this year are also the fourth most ever in a season for a Muhlenberg wrestler.
After receiving a bye in the first round of day one, Sherman lost his first match to a SUNY Oneonta opponent, but he battled back with a decision victory to remain alive in the tournament. The win was his 28th of the season.
“I don’t think we accomplished what we were capable of accomplishing this past weekend at regionals. As a team, we’ve barely scratched the surface of our potential, but we’re slowly climbing and improving every day,” said Sherman. “We’re lucky to have such a talented group of dedicated student athletes who love the sport and want to succeed,” Sherman said about the bittersweet weekend.
With the season now over, the team turns its focus to training for next season. Next season, the team will be without seniors Ben Peck, Jake Gordon and Logan Laughlin, as well as Robert Armus ‘19, who decided to retire because of lingering injuries.
However, the team enjoyed an unexpectedly successful season under first year coach Jason McLean, whose hiring came just days before the beginning of the season. After weeks of uncertainty over the coaching position, McLean brought stability to the squad, and guided the Mules to one of their most successful seasons in recent years. With McLean at the helm moving forward, the Mules have high hopes both individually and for the team next year.
Regardless, the Muhlenberg wrestling program did not let the preseason uncertainty affect their efforts on the mat in the 2017-18 season.
“I didn’t accomplish my goals this weekend — nobody on the team did,” said Sherman, “But the great thing is we have next year and the year after that to continue to improve and chip away until we get to where we want to be.”