Season Preview: Wrestling Team Continues to Build

Friday, November 1, 2013

All of 29 career matches under his belt, sophomore Che Chengsupanimit already is the elder statesman on the Muhlenberg wrestling team.

That’s how it can be on a rebuilding program, and after making some strides last year, the young Mules will look to continue their rise in 2013-14. The season begins tomorrow at the Monarch Invitational, hosted by King’s.

Chengsupanimit is one of three sophomores, along with Jim Coiley and Pat Fruehling, who wrestled for Muhlenberg last season. The rest of the team consists of freshmen, plus a sophomore and a senior in their first year with the program.

Jim Coiley
Coiley won three bouts, all by pin, in an injury-shortened freshman season.
“We feel pretty close as a team,” said Chengsupanimit. “Last year we had an age gap – we had seniors and freshmen, and no one in between. This year, people seem to be on the same page as to what’s going on. We can figure out what [the freshmen] are going through and what kind of challenges they have.”

As the team grows together, it is also growing in numbers. Muhlenberg sent only four wrestlers (Chengsupanimit, Fruehling and two seniors) to the NCAA East Regional last year but starts this season with a roster of 10, some of whom will join the team after competing in fall sports.

“The situation as far as having fewer people is something we have been able to take advantage of with more individual attention,” noted Chengsupanimit. “But at the same time we appreciate having more bodies. That’s ultimately how we’ll be finding success as a program, and even as individuals.

“This year we feel like we have a fighting chance to win at least a few dual meets, which is exciting.”

The Mules, who have won only one dual meet in the last four years, will get more chances this winter against a revamped schedule that includes several non-traditional opponents, including NAIA member West Virginia Tech and New York community college (and first-year wrestling program) SUNY Sullivan.

“The main idea [new head coach Jake Calhoun] is trying to put across is that we’ll be better wrestlers by being able to face a diverse group of opponents,” said Chengsupanimit. “When a Muhlenberg wrestler qualifies for the national tournament he won’t feel foreign to different styles.

“It also helps just being on the mat. The more opportunities we get to step on the mat and wrestle, the better off we’ll be.”

And that should help make up for the experience the Mules lack heading into the season. By the time the Centennial Conference Championships and East Regional roll around in late February and early March, the team should be well prepared to signal a bright future for Muhlenberg wrestling.

“We’re looking for a lot of improvement,” said Chengsupanimit. “Anything we can do in regards to rebuilding is something we’re looking forward to.”