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Muhlenberg College

Friday, November 7, 2008

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Season Preview
Seniors lead wrestlers into 08-09 season

As the Muhlenberg wrestling team opens up the 2008-09 season tomorrow, the Mules will look to their seven seniors to lead them in their pursuit of a successful year.

“All of the seniors on our team are leaders, on and off the mat,” said senior co-captain Rob Kein. “We all play big roles in motivating the younger
Dan McEnroy
Senior Dan McEnroy won six matches at 125 last year, placing third at the Washington and Lee Invitational.
guys and showing them what it looks like to work hard.”

“Rob and I are really trying to step up as captains and make the team realize its potential,” said senior co-captain Matt Horn.

This season that potential might equal a conference championship. Muhlenberg finished an unsatisfactory sixth at the Centennial Conference Championships last year, after finishing second and third the prior two seasons. This year, the Mules have their sights set on winning the conference.

“We have the talent,” Kein. “And although the competition is very tough this year, I think we have our best shot in many years to bring home a title.”

Horn is looking to capture not only the team title, but an individual title at the CC Championships.

“I’ve had disappointing third place finishes the last two years and would
Matt Friedman
Senior middleweight Matt Friedman enters his senior season with three pins, three major decisions and two technical falls among his 14 career wins.
really love to be a conference champion this season,” said Horn.

Horn went 24-7 last season at 184, with a team-high 11 pins. Kein went 25-6 at 149 and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler at a tournament for the second year in a row.

The third co-captain, senior Billy Hall (141), reached the all-time list with his 75 career wins and 33 career pins and ended the season with a team-best 27-5. All that experience returns this season, with senior Justin Fitch, Horn and Kein ranked as contenders on the preseason poll.

“This year’s team is a lot more experienced than last year’s,” said Kein. “We have some very talented guys who just needed another year under their belt to shine.”

One of those wrestlers is Fitch, who had a breakout season last year, almost doubling his win total from the previous two years. The Mules will look to him again this season.

“Justin Fitch needs to step up big this season,” said Kein. “I think it’s important for him to realize how vital he is to our team’s success. He is one of the most talented wrestlers on the team and has the chance to do really well.”

Colin Gibson
As a freshman, Colin Gibson was teammates with his older brother Chris, and this year as a senior he’ll wrestle alongside younger brother Patrick.
Horn agrees. “He’ll be able to upset a number of high-level opponents. He should be a force to be reckoned with on the national level at 174.”

The Mules open up at the Monarch Invitational at King’s College. Last year, Muhlenberg crowned three champions (Hall, Horn and Kein) and is looking to repeat that success this year.

Muhlenberg will compete in tournaments the first half of the season before moving on to dual meets in the second half.

“Early on, one of the most important tournaments is the Petrofes Tournament,” said Kein. “It has some of the best competition in Division III. This is a great chance to see where we stand as a team and as individuals nationally.”

Muhlenberg has tough competition the second half of the season, with matches against Merchant Marine and Stevens, both nationally ranked teams in the Centennial Conference. But the Mules believe they can be competitive.

“Our team comes from very varied wrestling backgrounds,” said Kein. “This is a huge strength because it’s important not to get stale or used to one style of wrestling. We also have been doing a lot of different workouts inside and outside the wrestling room. We are putting an added focus on weight training, which should be helpful come conferences.”

“Our greatest strength is our team unity,” said Horn. “I feel like we get along really well as a team and have fun together. This keeps the mood light and the morale high and I feel like it works for us.”

“It’s important to keep it that way,” added Kein, “so that this sport, which is hard enough as it is with making weight and working out, doesn’t become a drag on us off the mat.”

And of course, there are all those seniors.

“Half the starters are seniors, and there is nothing more threatening than wrestling an opponent with nothing to lose,” said Kein. “This is our last chance to do something in a sport most of us have been involved with our entire lives. This year is an opportunity to lay it all on the line every single match. For most of us, there is no next season.”

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