LANCASTER, Pa. – After doubling the amount of wins from the season before and placing a competitor in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight year in 2012, the Franklin & Marshall wrestling program looks to be on the rise. Expectations are high with a balanced lineup, a core group of upperclassmen, who are expected to the lead the way and an exciting freshmen class.
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Seventeen returners are welcomed back into the fold from a team that finished with a 7-9 mark, capturing the most wins in a season since 2006-07. Joining that group is a freshmen class that includes four state-qualifiers.
The Diplomats started of last season strong with a win over VMI and continued with key victories against Sacred Heart and Davidson. At the EIWA Championships in March, the Diplomats captured 21.5 points for a 13th-place finish.
F&M graduated only one senior from last year's roster, Eric Norgard, who picked up 14 wins at 157, finishing his career at F&M with 34 victories.
Robert Ruiz - 133
Richard Durso – 141
Andrew Murano – 157
Wrestlers to Watch
Three key returners are expected to guide the F&M wrestling program to new heights in 2013-14, led by Durso, who enters the season as the No. 7 ranked wrestler in his weight class.
Durso is fresh off a record-setting season that saw him finish the year with a 39-5 mark, a new school single-season record for wins, while placing him second all-time in winning percentage (.886). He became the first F&M wrestler since 1994 to capture gold at the EIWA Championships and advanced all the way to the NCAA Division I quarterfinals in Des Moines, Iowa.
Murano makes the move from 149 to 157 and is expected to be a significant contributor to the 2013 team. Last year, Murano wrapped up his junior campaign with a 25-16 mark that included a 5-2 win over second-seeded Shane Welsh of Lehigh in the EIWA consolation bracket.
Ruiz registered a 23-18 record last season to bring his career mark to 35-35. He secured a second-place finish late in the season at the F&M Open.
Jason Bing leads the freshmen class and enters Lancaster as a three-time PIAA State qualifier. Wrestling at 125, Bing made his way into the Diplomats' lineup against Army after racking up a 108-27 record in high school.
The Road Ahead
After opening the season Saturday at home against Army, F&M travels to compete at the Fall Brawl hosted by Ursinus on Nov. 9. Key road matches include a meeting with George Mason on Jan. 25, followed by a dual with Davidson the following day.
The Diplomats face stiff competition against Princeton on Feb. 1 before returning home for a matchup with Bucknell on Feb. 14. F&M closes out the regular season looking to extend its four-year win streak against Millersville in the Battle for the Rupp Cup on Feb. 21.
EIWA Championships are scheduled for March 8-9 in Philadelphia, followed by the NCAA Division I Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla., on March 20-22.
F&M opens EIWA competition against Army on Saturday. The Diplomats trail the all-time series that dates back to 1926 at 7-24-1. The last meeting came back on Nov. 6, 2010 in a 26-15 defeat at the Pentagon Duels in Arlington, Va.
Projected Lineup for Saturday
125 - Bing
133 - Ruiz
141 - Durso
149 - Sharron Townsend
157 - Murano
165 - Rob King
184 - Paul Alessandrini
197 - Chuckie Kerkesner
Family Fun Night
Prior to F&M's dual against Army, the Diplomats will host their annual family fun night. The event is free and is scheduled to take place from 5:30-6:45 p.m. at the Mayser Center Gym. It will include a bounce castle, face painting, games, prizes and giveaways for youth wrestlers and their families.
Follow Along (Social Media)
All of your favorite Diplomat athletic teams are available on social media. Follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook and subscribe to the Diplomats Youtube page for frequent highlight videos of games throughout the season. All home wrestling matches at the Mayser Center will be broadcast live in HD at GoDiplomats.com/live.