Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Saturday, February 17, 2007
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Mules Finish Second; Loesch Wins Clifford Award

It was not only a total team effort, but also a total body effort as the Muhlenberg wrestling team used arms and legs, elbows, knees and muscles to produce four titlists at the Centennial Conference Championships.

The Mules finished second, 11 points behind Ursinus, their best showing since earning the runner-up spot in 2002. Ursinus did not win any weight classes but picked up six seconds and two thirds.

The four champions earned automatic bids to the national tournament, tying a program high set in 2001 and matched the following year. The NCAA Division III Championships are scheduled for March 2-3 at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.

Wrestling Champs
CC champions Tartar, Loesch, Kein and Hall.
Senior 197-pounder Matt Loesch became the seventh wrestler in CC history – the third from Muhlenberg – to win four straight titles. He received the Chris Clifford Memorial Award as the senior with the most career points.

Sophomores Billy Hall (133) and Rob Kein (141) and junior Joe Tartar all won their first career conference championships.

Hall, whose lanky stature makes him an unconventional opponent, struggled in the semifinals after winning by fall in his first match. Against a quick wrestler who used to compete at 125, Hall was effectively tied, 1-1 (down 1-0 but with a riding-time advantage) late in the match, but took his opponent down to his back with eight seconds left.

The final, against Trevor Beard of Ursinus, was a different story. Hall recorded his first takedown 12 seconds into the bout, then amassed 1:37 of riding time before Beard escaped. Hall responded immediately with another takedown and led 6-1 at the end of the first period.

“Last time I wrestled him it was 7-1 and he was on defense the whole time,” said Hall. “I wanted to try to pin him so I could go into nationals on a high note.”

Hall didn’t get the pin, but he did finish the bout on a high note, scoring a five-point move after Beard tried a late cement job. The 15-3 major decision gave Hall his fourth straight tournament title and a record of 24-5 (19-1 at 133) heading into nationals.

“I was very nervous coming in, even though I had beaten all these guys,” remarked Hall. “But as soon as you get on the mat, your instincts take over.”

Kein’s instincts told him to wrestle the final without the bulky brace he wore to protect the injured elbow that kept him out of the last three dual meets of the season. Wearing the brace, he notched an 11-3 major decision in the semifinals.

“I had limited functionality with the brace,” Kein explained. “I felt it helped the other guy more than it helped me; it gave him something else to grab on to.”

Matt Loesch
Loesch is 89-15 for his career with 23 pins and 14 major decisions.
Marco Priolo of Johns Hopkins hit the elbow early in the championship bout, causing Kein to wince in pain. Still, he kept on the attack, forcing Priolo into a stalling warning in the scoreless first period and riding him for the first 1:03 of the second.

Kein scored the first takedown of the match 38 seconds into the third period, then clinched the title with a takedown in the final seven seconds. It was his second victory over Priolo this season and his fourth in four career meetings.

“My style is perfect for the way he wrestles,” noted Kein, who will head to nationals with a 17-match winning streak and 23-2 overall record.

In contrast to Kein, Loesch wore his knee brace throughout the tournament, but it didn’t seem to give his opponents any advantage as he wrapped up a perfect CC career with three comfortable wins – a pin and two major decisions. Loesch went 40-0 against CC foes for his career, 24-0 in dual meets and 16-0 in tournaments. He is 16-0 overall this season and ranked fourth in Division III.

Tartar’s championship bout was a true heavyweight slugfest with Matt Williams of Ursinus. After a scoreless first period, Tartar started the second in the down position and escaped in 28 seconds. He scored the lone takedown of the match with 23 seconds left in the period, but conceded a point with his second stalling warning just before time expired.

Williams started down in the third period and escaped, but Tartar held him off for the final 1:45 to pull off the 3-2 win.

“It wasn’t a typical match for me,” said Tartar, who specializes in quick pins and got one in 41 seconds in the first round. “I had to put more into it. But I scored first and Coach always says that if you score first you should win: get ahead, stay ahead and wrestle to win.”

Tartar, who is 24-5 with three tournament titles, also had a tough semifinal bout, coming away with a 5-1 decision against a Washington & Lee opponent who defeated him two weeks ago.

Two Mules reached the consolation finals. Sophomore Matt Horn finished third at 184 for the second year in a row, and junior Joseph DeCampo had to settle for fourth at 149 after landing on his head early in the third-place bout.

Click here for Muhlenberg box score.
Click here for complete tournament results.

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Last updated February 17, 2007