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Muhlenberg College

Thursday, February 12, 2009

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wrestling seniors go out winners

Billy Hall

Rob Kein

Justin Fitch

Matt Horn Senior winners Hall, Kein, Fitch and Horn (top to bottom).

Asked to describe his wrestling style, Muhlenberg’s nationally ranked 149-pounder Rob Kein said “I look to score points instead of going for the big finish.”

Whether he wanted it or not, a big finish was just what Kein and the rest of the Mule senior wrestlers got in their last home match.

All four seniors who competed won, and freshman Nick Pallotta pinned his opponent in the last bout of the match to give Muhlenberg a thrilling 25-20 win against Messiah.

Each team won five bouts, and the lead changed hands after each of the last three bouts and a total of five times during the match. The Falcons have been ranked in the top 30 in Division III most of the season.

After Messiah won at 125, senior Billy Hall snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at 133. Hall spent almost two minutes of the first period in a bridge near the edge of the mat, desperately hanging on to avoid getting pinned. Although he made it to the end of the period, he faced a 7-3 deficit.

“I heard my teammates screaming ‘Fight!’ and I just tried to stay on my neck and off my shoulders,” said Hall. “You never want to give up.”

Hall rode his opponent for the entire second period but didn’t score any points. He still trailed 9-6 with less than a minute to go in regulation when he flattened his opponent, wrapping up a final home match he’s not likely to forget.

“I locked a cradle and rolled through,” said Hall of the winning move in his 36th career pin. “I knew I could do that to him from riding him the whole second period. I was just waiting for the right moment.”

Messiah won in overtime at 141 to tie the score at 6-6. Kein, who moved up to No. 7 in the Division III rankings released this week, provided his own dramatics at 149, recording a takedown with 9 seconds left to secure an 11-3 major decision and give the Mules an extra team point. It was his 14th career major, moving him into a tie for fifth on the program’s all-time list.

The Falcons scored 11 points in the next two bouts to take a 17-10 lead heading into the upperweights, who keyed Muhlenberg’s win against Scranton on Saturday. And they did it again.

Senior Justin Fitch started with a 5-2 decision at 174. At 184, another senior, Matt Horn, pinned his opponent in 1:39 to put the Mules back in front, 19-17. It was the 17th win in as many bouts since Horn moved back down to 184.

Messiah won in a rideout at 197 to retake the advantage, 20-19. That put Pallotta in a familiar position: In Muhlenberg’s second home match this season, he pinned his opponent in 1:13 to give the Mules a 22-18 win against Johns Hopkins.

Pallotta came through again, this time needing only 1:11 to notch his 11th win – and pin – of the season and allow the seniors to walk off their home arena with a victory.

“All of them are great leaders,” said Pallotta of the seven seniors, a group that also includes Dan McEnroy, Colin Gibson and Matt Friedman. “They all have a role on the team, even if they’re not in the varsity lineup. They’ve taught me a lot of things.”
Click here for box score.

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