Prior to passing the torch, Berg’s veteran wrestlers are ready to continue fighting for respect
By Noah Brill
Senior Staff Writer
This coming weekend, the Muhlenberg wrestling team is slated to cap off what has been a marvelous season in Ithaca, N.Y., where they will participate in the NCAA Mideast Regional Tournament on Feb. 29 and Mar. 1. The Mules sit at an impressive 18-4 overall mark, and finished conference play with a sterling 6-0 record. This year has seen the team continue to implement its “all for one, one for all” mindset with tremendous success, and the players’ individual growth in various areas seem to motivate one another to become better themselves. This is particularly true of many of the second-year wrestlers whose growth this season has been catalyzed in part by the team’s established veterans. These are prime factors for why head coach Jason McLean ‘01 was recently named the Centennial Conference’s Coach of the Year.
The team will face a significant test this weekend and has a chance to shape the narrative that will be told about this season, a year that will surely be regarded as one of the best in Muhlenberg history. However, the group is not setting their sights merely on the regional round, as they hope to perform well enough to send at least one player to the NCAA Tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that will take place from Mar. 11-13. For the graduating seniors, the next few weeks provide an opportunity for them to end their collegiate careers on a high note, something that would be a testament to all the hard work they have put in over the last four seasons. “Our mindset is to win everything; treat every match like it’s the last of the season. We will continue our success by sending guys to Iowa,” Dylan Schwartz ‘20 said.
In spite of their standing within the group’s hierarchy, the seniors seem to be consciously stepping aside, giving the younger players an opportunity to enjoy the limelight. “It’s almost time to pass the torch to our young, hard working guys like [Luca] Colestock [‘22] and hope they continue this upward trend,” Austin Sherman ‘20 said.
Upon reflection on his time with the program, Sherman enthusiastically noted that he has learned many life lessons through wrestling as a result of the hard work he has put toward the sport. “I’ve learned that anyone can be anything. It’s a matter of how many hours you’re willing to put in, how much you’re willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your goals.”
Sherman’s own commitment and devotion can be seen from the long way the team has come over his time as a member. “We built a nationally-ranked program in just four years with a handful of guys, all of whom shared this vision,” Sherman said. “Not everyone is going to like you or believe in you or support you. Put your head down and prove them wrong.”
Even though the wrestlers employ a collective mentality, their individual ambitions to be the best wrestlers they can be plays a role in the success they have had this year. “My goal is to be an All-American, and this can put me just one more step closer to accomplishing that,” Schwartz added.
Additionally, McLean and the rest of his staff has provided the wrestlers with the support and motivation they need to play at their finest. “The coaching staff has kept reminding us just how good we are, and how good we have been all year, and that we have been provided with yet another opportunity to make a statement,” Schwartz commented.