After being in the down position for a year, the Muhlenberg wrestling team scored a reversal in 2008-09.
The Mules finished sixth at the Centennial Conference Championships and did not qualify any wrestlers for the NCAA Championships the
previous year, but rebounded to come in fourth (a half-point out of third) and send two team members to the national meet.
Kein was 34-3 in dual meets in his career. His 89 wins included 15 major decisions, seven technical falls and 10 pins.
One of the national qualifiers, senior Rob Kein, became the program’s sixth All-American in nine years when he finished eighth at 149 pounds. The other, fellow senior Matt Horn, won his first CC title at 184 after three consecutive third-place finishes.
Seniors – seven in all – dominated the team, with Billy Hall and Justin Fitch also closing out stellar careers. Leaving the program along with them was head coach
Tom Schleicher, who retired after 13 years at the Muhlenberg helm.
Kein started the season by defeating a national qualifier from Wilkes in overtime to win the Monarch Invitational for the third year in a row. He later knocked off the sixth-ranked wrestler in Division III, from Merchant Marine, and climbed as high as seventh in the national rankings.
Although the Merchant Marine opponent knocked off Kein in the CC title bout, Kein received the league’s wild card
berth to the NCAAs. After winning two bouts at nationals, Kein closed his career with a record of 89-25.
Horn began the year wrestling at 197, where he placed in the top three in his first
two tournaments, then dropped back to 184 and didn’t lose another bout until the NCAA Championships. He reeled off 22 straight wins, including tournament titles at Messiah, Washington and Lee and the CC meet.
Horn’s final record of 30-4 made him the fifth different wrestler in team history to win 30 bouts in a season. At the NCAAs, he came within one win of earning All-America
status. Horn’s career record was 88-38 with 35 pins.
Hall (133) and Fitch (174) both placed third at the CC Championships. Hall joined the team late after studying abroad the first semester and won seven bouts, five by pin, to finish his career with an 82-25 record and 38 pins. Fitch went 19-11 on the season and 63-36 for his career.
All four seniors won their bouts on Senior Night, leading the Mules to a 25-20 win against a Messiah team that was ranked in the top 30 in Division III most of the season. Muhlenberg finished its dual meet season with a record of 6-6, 4-3 in the CC.
A pair of freshmen made strong debuts. Heavyweight Nick Pallotta went 13-12, with all of his wins coming by pin, and 141-pounder Kevin Homan came on strong at the end of the year to place third at the CC Championships. Sophomores Ryan Hoffman (125) and Bill Sholly (197) showed promise, suffering one-point losses to the first and second seeds, respectively, in their weight classes at the conference meet.