LANCASTER, Pa. - Franklin & Marshall wrestling is set to begin its 86th year of competition on the mats this winter, and second under head coach Mike Rogers. After posting a 4-9 record in his first season at the helm, Rogers is eager to see what his team is capable of in 2011-12.
"We have a nice balance of experience and talent that will allow us to be very competitive this year," said Rogers. "We'll be looking for our upperclassmen to set the tone, while our underclassmen will add depth and talent to the lineup."
The Diplomats ended last year on a high note, reeling off four-straight victories to close out the season. F&M returns nine wrestlers from a season ago, including six starters, and welcomes 11 newcomers to the squad this winter.
Highlighting the list of returners is 174-pounder Matt Fullowan. The senior captain is fresh off a superb junior campaign in which he posted a 27-15 record, placed fifth at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Fullowan became F&M's first NCAA qualifier since Justin Herbert in 2009 and the first Diplomat to earn an automatic bid since 1998. He enters the 2011-12 season as the top-ranked 174-pounder in the EIWA and is rated 22nd in the nation and fourth in the Atlantic Region by WrestlingReport.com.
Seniors Colin Ely and Matt Latessa will also captain the Diplomats this winter. Ely returns at 197-pounds after recording a 15-6 mark a season ago. He will begin the year as the sixth-ranked 197-pounder in the EIWA. Latessa will hold down the 184-pound spot after totaling six victories in 2010-11.
At 125-pounds, a position that has hurt the Diplomats in recent years, freshman David Hershberger will step right into the starting lineup. Hershberger will be challenged by fellow freshman Emmanuel Arthur, who will add much-needed depth to the position.
Finding a way to replace one of the program's all-time wins leaders is never an easy task, but Coach Rogers and the Diplomats must find a way to make up for the loss of Jake Bucha at 133-pounds. Junior Kenny Knapp, who wrestled primarily at 141-pounds last year, will look to bounce back from an injury-plagued sophomore season and make the transition to 133 for the Diplomats. Freshman Robert Ruiz will also contend for time.
Another spot in which Coach Rogers will rely on a freshman to contribute from the get-go is at 141-pounds. Newcomer Richard Durso will look to build off a successful prep career in which he totaled over 120 wins.
The weight class with perhaps the most competition for playing time is at 165-pounds, as sophomore Colin Lahiff, along with freshmen Adam Schroeder and Austin Glessner, will each vie for time on the mat. Lahiff was one of F&M's most versatile wrestlers last season, competing in 13 matches in four different weight classes.
Another new face will take over the heavyweight spot for F&M this year, freshman Alex Henry. Other newcomers fighting for time in the lineup include 174-pounder Brad Bailey, 184-pounder Paul Alessandrini and 197-pounder Isaiah Cromwell.
The Diplomats will once again face a challenging schedule in 2011-12, including an opening-weekend matchup against ninth-ranked Maryland. F&M begins its season on Sunday, Nov. 6 at the Terrapin Duals, with its first match set for 10:00 am against Bloomsburg. The Diplomats will open their EIWA season at home on Friday, Dec. 9 against Navy at 7:30 pm.