LANCASTER, Pa. – The 2016-17 version of Franklin & Marshall's wrestling team will look markedly different from a year ago, with a younger lineup expected to take to the mat in dual meets for the Diplomats. However, excitement and expectations remain high for a program on the rise.
The Diplomats have sent a grappler to the NCAA Tournament in five of the previous six seasons, including two punching their tickets a year ago for the first time since 1994, while also placing three at the EIWA Championships.
The road toward sustaining that success begins Sunday when F&M sends wrestlers to compete at the East Stroudsburg Open.
Wrestlers to Watch
Jason Bing | Sr. | 149 Pounds
Robbie King | R-Sr. | 165 Pounds
Emmett LiCastri | Fr. | 157 Pounds
Anthony Mancini | Jr. | 184 Pounds
Paddy Quinlan | Jr. | 141 Pounds
King figures to be a key cog in the middle of the lineup after redshirting a year ago. The senior captain enters the season with a 53-49 career record and a 21-14, 8-7 EIWA mark during the 2014-15 season.
P. Quinlan moved up to 141 after tying the team lead with six pins a year ago and joins Mancini, who secured the third-most wins on the team with a 17-17 record, in providing key leadership as junior captains for the Diplomats.
Bing (12-18 record in 2015-16) figures to play a critical role in the dual meet lineup and LiCastri is expected to make the most-immediate impact among members of the freshman class. Cole Aaron and Nick Maher are also among the first-year members of the team who have a chance to compete in the lineup.
Saying Goodbye to One of the Best
The greatest challenge facing the Diplomats for the upcoming season is overcoming the loss of Rick Durso, who has been the face of the program throughout the past five years.
Durso was F&M's first four-time NCAA Qualifier and only two-time EIWA Champion. His 145-38 overall record was the best all time and his All-America bid in 2014 was the first for the Diplomats since 1981.
The Road Ahead
F&M is currently set to compete in 13 dual meets, to go along with nine tournaments, as the Diplomats prepare for the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships, which are hosted by Bucknell on March 3-4.
For more information on the Diplomats' schedule, click here.
Changes to Coaching Staff
Fourth-year assistant coach Steve Borja was elevated to the second assistant position in the offseason, replacing Mike Childs. The opportunity allows Borja to have a larger impact on recruiting and the day-to-day operations in the office. Brock Stoltz joined the program as a strength and conditioning coach. In 2013, Stoltz opened BA Athletics, Inc. in Lancaster where he trains a wide-range of wrestlers.
Also being welcomed to the staff is the program's all-time pins leader Justin Herbert '09, who is joining the Diplomats as a volunteer assistant in the near future. Herbert, who qualified for the NCAA's in 2009, is sixth on the all-time wins list (82-39) and accumulated 35 pins in his career.
"Justin will be a great addition to our coaching staff," said seventh-year head coach Mike Rogers. "As a former student-athlete at F&M, he will serve as a mentor to our guys while also helping the program reconnect and reengage with alumni from his era."
Pelusi Taking a Red Shirt Year
2016 NCAA Qualifier Antonio Pelusi is redshirting for the upcoming season after registering a 26-21 record last year and taking fifth at the EIWA Championships – the best finish for a heavyweight since Bob Bickelman took third in 1976.
"The coaching staff believes this is an ideal year for Antonio to redshirt, in order to set him up for future success," said Rogers. "This allows him an opportunity to focus on developing more offense on his feet, as well as his mat skills, while also allowing him to reach his academic goals in the classroom."
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 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.