LANCASTER, Pa. – With the return of a talented lineup that gained valuable experience a year ago, optimism abounds for the 2015-16 Franklin & Marshall wrestling team. Adding to the excitement is the return of 2014 All-American Rick Durso, who enters his senior season with the goal of becoming the program's first National Champion since 1972.
Action begins on Friday when F&M hosts its annual Blue & White intra-squad dual scrimmage at 7:30 p.m. in the Mayser Center. The event is being streamed live and can be viewed here.
To watch the season preview video, click here.
A total of 22 wrestlers return to the team, including eight regulars from last season's lineup, as well as a skilled five-member freshmen class. The group will need to make up the production of a pair of seniors that were mainstays in the lineup, including Robert Ruiz (141), who exited Lancaster with the 14th-most wins in program history at 67-64, and Alex Henry, the Diplomats' lone heavyweight.
Wrestlers to Watch
Paddy Quinlan – 133
Rick Durso – 141
Robbie King – 157
Charles Kerkesner – 197
The lighter weights appear to be the strength of F&M's 2015-16 lineup, which is spearheaded by Durso, who returns after competing unattached last year. Finishing eighth at the 2014 NCAA Championships, the Diplomats' veteran 141-pounder brings his sorely- missed ability back to the heart of F&M's dual-meet lineup.
Quinlan's successful freshman campaign at 133 culminated with a 16-12 record and a victory in the wrestle backs at the Eastern Collegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships.
King also earned a win at EIWA's and led the team with a 21-14 record, including an 8-7 conference mark, while Kerkesner went 15-14, 4-6 EIWA and also picked up a victory at the conference championships.
Others to keep an eye out for are returners Jason Bing, who moves up to 149, and Antonio Pelusi who is expected to fill the hole at heavyweight, as well as freshmen Jack Argast, Corey Kerkesner, Jared Wehrmann and David Brennan.
To watch a video roster of the 2015-16 F&M wrestling team, click here.
The Road Ahead
F&M is set to compete in 19 dual-meets, as well as eight tournaments in preparation for the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships, hosted by Princeton from March 5-6, and the NCAA Championships at Madison Square Garden in New York City from March 17-19.
Several Division I heavyweights grace the 2015-16 schedule, including a pair of Big-10 foes in Rutgers on Nov. 1, who finished last season as the nation's No. 21 team, and Northwestern at the Grapple at the Garden in New York City on Nov. 29. Other ranked opponents include home matchups with Bucknell (No. 24) on Nov. 13 to open EIWA action, Lehigh (No. 9) on Jan. 16 and on the road against Pittsburgh (No. 25) for a triple-header at the Pittsburgh Duals on Jan. 9. A total of nine EIWA opponents appear on the schedule for F&M in 2015-16.
The fourth annual David H. Lehman F&M Open is set for Wednesday, Dec. 30. The tournament keeps growing in popularity, continuously attracting nearly 400 collegiate wrestlers from nationally prominent programs. This year's competition will make a move to historic, downtown Lancaster City and will be held at the Marriott, located at Penn. Square Convention Center.
Blue/White Wrestle Offs
On Friday, F&M opens the year with the Blue/White Wrestle Offs, a series of head-to-head intra-squad matchups at each weight class, to determine its lineup heading into next weekend's competition at the Rutgers Duals.
Durso Nearing Wins Record
Heading into the season, Durso is just 11 wins away from the program's career record. The 141-pound grappler holds a 106-28 mark and trails only Craig Blackman 81, who accumulated a 117-31-2 record.
Durso also looks to climb the career pins leaders, heading into the season with 18 in his career. Justin Herbert '09 leads the way with 35.
Where Durso Stacks Up
No. 8 – Wrestlingreport.com
No. 9 – FLO Wrestling
No. 9 – InterMat Wrestling
No. 9 – The Open Mat (TOM)
No. 11 – Amateur Wrestling News
Alton Named Assistant Wrestling Coach
Former Penn State standout Andrew Alton joined F&M's staff as the Diplomats' new assistant coach. As a member of the Nittany Lions' teams that captured four consecutive NCAA National Championships for 2011-14 under renowned head coach Cael Sanderson, Alton was a two-time NCAA qualifier, falling just one win shy of All-America status after his freshman season.
To read more about Alton's hiring, click here.
Follow Along (Social Media)
All of your favorite Diplomat athletic teams are available on social media. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram, like them on Facebook and subscribe to theDiplomats 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.