Thursday, February 17, 2005
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Muhlenberg will host the new and improved Centennial Conference Wrestling Championships on Saturday when around 75 wrestlers from eight schools square off in Memorial Hall for the right to compete in the national tournament.
This promises to be one of the most competitive CC tournaments ever. The league expanded from six to eight teams with the offseason addition of Kings Point and Stevens Tech two squads that bring a high level of talent to the CC.
The two new schools were not required to wrestle everyone else in a dual meet until next year. Also, a January snowstorm wiped out a scheduled CC tri-meet. As a result, only two schools (Muhlenberg and Johns Hopkins) wrestled a full dual-meet schedule, making it hard to predict how certain wrestlers will match up against each other.
Even though champions return at eight of the 10 weight classes, most brackets will have several legitimate contenders for the championship.
Winners at each of the 10 classes receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships, scheduled for March 4-5 at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.
The Mules best title hopes rest with their two defending champions, junior Dale Mills at 149 and sophomore Matt Loesch at 197.
Mills missed nearly two months with an injury but has been impressive in his return, winning all five bouts, three by technical fall. He has an overall record of 12-4 and is tied for the CC lead with four technical falls. One of Mills biggest obstacles will be
Based on the regular season, Loesch doesnt appear to have an obstacle in his path. He was the only wrestler to go 7-0 in the Conference this year, and his seven wins came via three pins, one technical fall, one major decision and two 5-0 decisions. One of the 5-0 decisions came against the Johns Hopkins wrestler he defeated by one point in last years final.
Other Muhlenberg wrestlers who figure to make an impact are freshmen Brian Saval (157) and Joe Tartar (heavyweight), each of whom lost just once in CC competitions, and sophomore John Hesse (184), who was defeated twice.
Ursinus, which went through the dual-meet season undefeated and is ranked 23rd in Division III, is the favorite to win its third consecutive title. The Bears return five champions from last year.
Muhlenberg will look to improve on its fifth-place finish of a year ago. The last time the Mules hosted the CC Championships, in 1999, they finished third and qualified three wrestlers for nationals.
As a senior, I think its going to be great, said Frank Pepe, who will represent Muhlenberg at 174, of hosting the tournament. A lot of people can come out and really get a feel for what Muhlenberg wrestling and Centennial Conference wrestling is about. And its also nice to be able to go out in front of your home fans and family. Its really exciting that all of the people who have supported me for my career will be watching me at the end.
The wrestling begins at 10 a.m. and is expected to run through the entire afternoon.
Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 13 and above. Children 12 and under, as well as students from the competing schools with identification, will be admitted free of charge.
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Last updated February 17, 2005