Mule Teams Reached Postseason at Record Rate in 2013-14

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Across the board, the 2013-14 year was a strong showing and major step up for Muhlenberg athletics in Centennial Conference competition.

The Mules reached a consistent level of success that few CC programs can match.

percentage of teams in postseason The CC crowns champions in 24 sports and fields championship events – an end-of-the-year meet or playoff tournament – in 23 of them (all but football). All schools that sponsor the sport compete in the championship meet in cross country, golf, track, swimming and wrestling, but they need to finish in the top four or five to qualify in the other sports.

Since Muhlenberg does not sponsor swimming, it has 21 opportunities for championship participation. And in 2013-14, the Mules certainly took advantage.

Muhlenberg set a school record with 18 postseason qualifiers during the past athletic year, missing out in only three sports. That was percentage points better than the 2001-02 season, when the Mules placed 16 teams in the CC playoffs out of 19 chances (tennis did not feature a team tournament until 2005).

Examining data that dates back to the 2001-02 athletic year, when the CC started its postseason tournaments in most sports, Muhlenberg’s most recent campaign places it in rarified air.

teams in postseason in 2013-14 First, the Mules’ 18 playoff teams were tied for the conference lead with Franklin & Marshall. Additionally, since 2001-02 only one other CC school – Gettysburg – has sent more than 18 teams to the postseason. In fact, Franklin & Marshall is the only other CC member to reach 18, doing so in each of the last two seasons. However, the Diplomats did so with one more chance at playoff qualification than Muhlenberg, since they sponsor swimming.

Muhlenberg’s winning percentage in the 13 sports where the regular season determines the champion or playoff qualification was .571 (87-65-2) this season. That represents the Mules’ best performance since the 2008-09 athletic year, when those 13 teams were a combined 91-53-4 (.628).

In the last three years, the Mules have been steadily on the rise.

Muhlenberg is the only CC school to improve its playoff participation each of the last two years, and one of only three to not suffer a decrease in any of the last four seasons. The Mules totaled 12 playoff teams in both 2010-11 and 2011-12 before increasing to 14 last year and making the leap to 18 this time around. Only once in the last 12 years – Gettysburg between 2005-06 and 2006-07 – did another conference program have a jump of at least four from one year to the next.

celebrations Emerging programs for the Mules in 2013-14 included five playoff teams – field hockey (6), women’s lacrosse (5), women’s tennis (3), volleyball (4) and baseball (6) – that ended postseason droughts of at least three years, with volleyball reaching the CC final for the first time since 2001 and baseball winning a postseason game for the first time since 2003. Not surprisingly, none of those teams was expected to break the spell – all five were predicted to finish outside of postseason contention in their respective CC preseason polls, and a sixth (women’s soccer) was tabbed to tie for the final berth.

Muhlenberg’s traditionally strong programs continued their run of excellence during the 2013-14 year. The football team finished second in the CC and earned a postseason bid for the 10th time in 14 years, and softball won the regular-season conference crown and the top seed in the league tournament for the second year in a row. Women’s basketball made the playoffs for the ninth straight season.