Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Monday, February 26, 2007
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File this one under “Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction.”

A mixup in reservations during the 2004 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships resulted in Matt Loesch getting a coupon for a free hotel room – if he ever stayed in the same Dubuque, Iowa, hotel.

Dubuque may not be the most popular travel destination, but Loesch, now a senior at Muhlenberg, is returning to the hotel – only this time, he’ll need a few more rooms.

NCAA wrestling Loesch is one of four Mule wrestlers who qualified for the NCAA Championships, hosted by Loras College for the second time in four years. Competition is scheduled to begin on Friday, with the tournament wrapping up on Saturday night. Click on the logo for the official tournament site.

While the other three Muhlenberg representatives (sophomores Billy Hall and Rob Kein and junior Joe Tartar) are newcomers to the national meet, Loesch is making his fourth appearance. The Mules last had four national qualifiers in 2002.

“It helps morale because you feel more like a team. It’s more comforting to have teammates around,” said Loesch, who went by himself two years ago and with one teammate the other two times. “It’s also good because we have partners that are close to our sizes.”

Loesch not only has experience competing at the NCAA Championships, but he also has experienced success, more than any other wrestler in Muhlenberg history. He is 6-6 in his three NCAA appearances, earning All-America honors by finishing fourth in 2005 and sixth last year. As a freshman, he
Rob Kein
Kein’s only two losses this year came on November 18 in consecutive bouts against Lycoming wrestlers.
upset the fourth seed but came up one win short of All-America status.

Loesch was seeded third at last year’s tournament and enters the 2007 NCAA meet ranked third in Division III.

“I feel like I can win it all this year, but anybody can beat you anytime,” he said. “[The other wrestlers] are all so good that they’re not going to be scared of you, but even if they are they’re still very talented. It’s less who is better than who is better prepared to have a good couple of days.”

Winning tournaments is a common thread among the Mules’ NCAA qualifiers. Hall won all four tournaments he entered at 133 after wrestling the first two at 141. Kein reached four tournament finals, winning three and defaulting in the fourth. Loesch has two tournament titles and Tartar three.

Muhlenberg competed in six tournaments this year, the most it ever has, and had only 11 dual meets. When Loesch was a freshman, the Mules competed in 20 duals and four tournaments.

“That was a good shift to make,” remarked Loesch. “Tournaments drain you a lot more, but they help you find better competition quickly. All three of [the other qualifiers] have gotten the opportunity to wrestle nationally ranked guys. That’s the type of experience you need so you’re not awestruck when you get out there.”

Muhlenberg has returned home from nationals with an All-American four of the last six years. This year the team will try to take the next step and produce multiple All-Americans.

“I think all of them could be All-Americans, this year and in the future,” said Loesch. “They all have unique abilities and can do very well out there.”

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Last updated February 26, 2007