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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - page 2

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Season Preview
young wrestling team starts anew

When a new coach with a new system and no previous loyalties takes over the reins of a program, it’s like everyone is a freshman. In the case of the 2009-10 Muhlenberg wrestling team, it’s almost like that anyway.

It will be a clean slate all around when the young Mules open their season on Saturday at the King’s Monarch Invitational.

First-year head coach Mike Kocsis inherits a team that has
Keith Swanson
Swanson recorded a technical fall at 157 in the Mules’ 22-18 Centennial Conference win at Johns Hopkins last year.
no seniors, only two healthy juniors and seven freshmen on its 16-man roster. That’s quite the departure from last year, when Muhlenberg started as many as five seniors – including three national qualifiers – in its lineup en route to a fourth-place finish at the Centennial Conference Championships.

“We graduated the core of our team,” said one of the three junior captains, Keith Swanson, whose 32 career matches lead all active wrestlers. Junior Bill Sholly, last year’s starter at 197, suffered an injury in the preseason and is not expected to compete. The other junior, Michael Slevin, lettered as a freshman but wrestled only four varsity bouts last year.

“I was a captain junior year in high school, but it’s weird being in a college environment,” said Swanson. “We don’t have that much more experience than the rest of the guys.”

Some of the other guys with experience are sophomores Kevin Homan and Nick Pallotta. Homan came on strong at the end of last year, defeating the second and third seeds to place third at 141 at the CC Championships. Pallotta may drop down to 197 after recording 13 wins – all by pin – and placing in two tournaments as a freshman heavyweight.

Another sophomore, John Sternlicht, looks to have a strong year at 165. He was
Michael Slevin
Slevin had two pins as a 133-pounder in 2007-08.
impressive in two early tournaments last winter before an injury ended his season. Sophomore Kenneth Ludwig took over his starting spot the rest of the year.

After that, the Mules will rely on newcomers, and in an effort to get them match experience as quickly as possible, the team has beefed up its first-semester schedule. In addition to usual tournaments at King’s, Ursinus and Messiah, Muhlenberg will also compete at East Stroudsburg and York and host a home dual vs. Centenary.

The schedule isn’t the only thing that has changed. “We have a new weight lifting program, and we do a lot less running and a lot more wrestling on the met. We do a lot of functional wrestling exercises,” explained Swanson. “We’re trying to stay in wrestling shape rather than running shape. You’re still doing the conditioning, it’s just on the mat.”

Then there are the “Fun Fridays.” Every once in a while, the Mules will take a break from their normal drills and play football on their knees or play keepaway with a football in an effort to keep the mood light during their otherwise rigorous training.

Said Swanson, “It’s just so you’re not doing the same thing over and over. It’s a long enough season.”

The Mules hope the Fun Fridays, and the experience gained over the next four months, will lead to Successful Saturdays by the end of that long season.

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