Wrestling team makes history

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Men's wrestling faces Ursinus on Feb. 1. Photo by Photo Editor Kira Bretsky '27.

The Muhlenberg men’s wrestling team has again made history at the highly anticipated 2024 Centennial Conference (CC) Wrestling Championships. The team’s collective performances culminated in a third-place finish, the best since 2020. Led by Joey Lamparelli ‘24 and Frank DiEsso ‘25, the Mules showcased their prowess on the mat and captured the hearts of spectators with their remarkable feats of strength and skill.

Lamparelli, a standout and 2023 all-American, reaffirmed his status as a wrestling powerhouse, clinching his second consecutive CC title in the fiercely competitive 125-pound weight class. Lamparelli’s journey to victory was marked by strategic brilliance and unwavering resilience as he outmaneuvered his opponents with precision and determination. Reflecting on his remarkable achievement, Lamparelli shared profound insights into his wrestling journey: “Wrestling is an extremely tough sport that you cannot skate by in. To be great, there have to be sacrifices.” His inspiring words resonate deeply with aspiring athletes and exemplify the dedication and sacrifices required to excel at the collegiate level.

DiEsso also delivered a stellar performance, attaining his first CC gold medal and career title as a Mule. DiEsso’s journey to the top of the podium was characterized by sheer determination and unwavering focus, as he showcased the right technique and composure in each about. In a thrilling championship showdown, DiEsso got an early jump with two takedowns in the first period and led 7-1 after two, but his opponent closed the gap midway through the third period. Undeterred, DiEsso escaped and recorded a takedown in the closing seconds to secure the 11-5 win and the championship, cementing his place in Muhlenberg wrestling history. 

In addition to Lamparelli and DiEsso’s stellar performances, Andrew Loniewski ‘27 and Ryan Fairchild ‘26 showcased their talent and determination on the mat. Loniewski reached the final with a technical fall– his 20th win of the season– and a 5-1 decision. Despite falling short in the final against a returning All-American, Loniewski’s remarkable achievements highlight his immense potential and contributions to the team’s success. On the other hand, Fairchild displayed strong resilience and achievement, once again pinning his first opponent in just 41 seconds and securing a thrilling overtime victory in the semifinals. Despite falling short in the final, Fairchild’s indomitable spirit and unwavering resolve serve as a source of inspiration for his teammates and fans alike. This season marks a promising future at Muhlenberg for both the first-years and sophomores with exciting opportunities in store for the program.

The successes of Lamparelli, DiEsso, Loniewski, Fairchild and the entire Muhlenberg wrestling team at the CC Championships exemplify the spirit of Muhlenberg’s athletes, inspiring future generations to strive for excellence both on and off the mat. 

Lamparelli aptly remarks and lives by the statement by Iowa Hawkeyes coach Dan Gable, “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.” These words encapsulate the invaluable lessons learned on the wrestling mat such as perseverance, resilience and the pursuit of greatness. All of which are qualities that extend far beyond the confines of the wrestling arena. The Mules’ performances last weekend will be remembered for years and are a testament to the team’s unwavering dedication and commitment to excellence. 

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