Muhlenberg Head Wrestling Coach Jason McLean was proud of the efforts his team gave that landed three Mules on the podium after the Centennial Conference Champions concluded Feb. 10 at Washington and Lee College.

We accomplished some good things and met some goals,” said McLean. “Unfortunately, we were missing guys due to illness and injury so we did not give ourselves much of a chance in the team standings.”

Despite the low finish for the team in the overall standings, the highlight of the day was Gennaro Cerminara ‘19, who pinned his opponent in the championship matches’ third overtime round.

“I felt really good. I was mentally focused and knew that I could win a championship. I felt very ready to go when I woke up, almost laser-focused,” explained Cerminara. The laser focus was enough to keep him poised throughout the exhausting day, which included three matches he had to push through before being crowned the conference champion in the 197 weight class.  

“The first match was good because I was able to get moving, but also get on and off the mat with a pin,” said Cerminara. “The second match went pretty well too. I was able to hold off any scoring and able to control the whole match.”

After confidently controlling his first two matches Cerminara stepped onto the mat for the third and final time of the day in an all-or-nothing championship match against Merchant Marine’s Blake Bunce ‘19. At the end of regulation Cerminara and Bunce were knotted at a 5-5 score.

“Going into the first overtime period I knew that he was tired and that the chance of me pinning him was high if I got him on his back,” said Cerminara. In the first two tie-breaker periods there was only one score change when Bunce scored to go into the third overtime leading 6-5.

The third overtime was when Cerminara realized his chances to battle back were running low. “When the third OT started I looked at my coach and he gave me the go ahead to pin him. I just used all the energy I had left to execute the move.” And execute he did. After starting in the down position the victory was locked in when Cerminara stood up and pinned Bunce.

His last stop of the day was to the podium where he proudly wore his gold medal around his neck. Also proud was his coach. “(Gennaro) showed a lot of poise and focus,” explained McLean who praised his athlete’s efforts to grow mentally and physically throughout the season. “I don’t know if the poise aspect would’ve been there a couple of months ago.”

McLean also enjoyed seeing Cerminara’s confidence throughout the day, which he hopes will continue to be present in the last, and most important, matches of the season. “He should have a little swagger about him going into the next few weeks. I expect some good things out of him.”

“I was mentally focused and knew that I could win a championship.” – Gennaro Cerminara ’19

Moving forward Cerminara looks to continue dominating his weight class at NCAA Regionals. He outlined his three goals as finishing in the top three in the region, qualifying for nationals, and being named an All-American. The recipe to continue executing? Knowing he still has room to grow. “I am preparing for regionals by continuing to improve and focus on the areas that need work and by working as hard as I can.”

The Mules were also able to send two more wrestlers to the podium who both captured Bronze medals. Austin Sherman ‘20 and Dylan Schwartz ‘20 each earned their first career medals, wrestling at 133 and 165, respectively. McLean was most impressed with their ability to overcome semi-final losses in their 3rd place match. “They bounced back mentally and physically after tough and disappointing semi-final losses and both had to win two matches,” said McLean.

McLean also mentioned Scott Schaeffer ‘20 who competed despite not being at full strength. “He showed a ton of heart. He is already undersized at heavyweight giving up as much as 40 pounds at times.  He always gives us his all and did so yesterday as well.”

The Mules have a two week layoff before NCAA Regionals in Ithaca, N.Y.. In the meantime the team has a final duel match scheduled against Liberty University. “We need to get healthy,” said McLean about the final few weeks of the season. “We are going to work on our confidence, conditioning and poise. We will be watching film and tweaking what we are good at and fixing what we aren’t good at.”


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