Marathon of the Mind

It’s hardly unusual for a college cross country runner to compete in a marathon. But what  made Jarrett Felix’ first marathon different was that he did it while sitting in a classroom.

It was less about Prefontaine and more about pre-calc.

Felix is a nine-time placewinner on relay teams at Centennial Conference track and field championship meets. He earned a bronze medal with the indoor 4x800 team in 2011.

Felix is a nine-time placewinner on relay teams at Centennial Conference track and field championship meets. He earned a bronze medal with the indoor 4×800 team in 2011.

Felix, a two-year co-captain on the Muhlenberg cross country team and a member of the track and field team, “ran” in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition in December. Administered by the Mathematical Association of America every year since 1938, the Putnam is a 12-question, six-hour test generally considered to be the most difficult math exam in the world.

And when the results came in a couple of weeks ago, Felix got some good news: Out of about 4,000 undergrads who took the test in the United States and Canada, he finished in the top third.

“It was a little intimidating because the median score is zero,” he said. (For those not as mathematically inclined, that means that more than half the people who take the test fail to score any points.) “I just wanted to do a little better, and I got a double-digit score.”

The whole process started with Dr. Daniel File, a visiting assistant professor of mathematics, who had taken the Putnam exam as an undergraduate at Ohio State. It had been a while since anyone at Muhlenberg had taken it, so File asked his colleagues for names of people who might be willing to try. Felix, a double major in mathematics and economics, was recommended.

Felix has competed in many races as a Mule, but his only previous foray into competitive mathematics had been with the LVAIC math team – a group of students who compete against other schools in the Lehigh Valley once each fall – the last two years. He did some practice sessions with File, and on “race day,” he sat alone in a classroom in Trumbower Hall for three hours, then took a lunch break before returning for three more hours.

“It’s not a specific type of math on the test – it’s problem-solving questions where you have to use the skills you’ve developed,” he said. “There was some probability, one of my better areas, some set theory, some really complicated uses of calculus.”

This is one of the questions on the exam Felix took, reprinted here with permission of the Mathematical Association of America. Please submit answers in the comments section below - first correct one gets a free yearly subscription to Mule Sports Daily!

This is one of the questions on the exam Felix took, reprinted here with permission of the Mathematical Association of America. Please submit answers in the comments section below – first correct one gets a free yearly subscription to Mule Sports Daily!

The test is divided into two sections, A and B, with six questions apiece. The first question in each is usually the “easiest,” and they get increasingly more difficult after that. There are some questions that no one gets full credit on (each question is worth 10 points, with 10 for a complete solution and one for the beginning of a solution).

“I really focused on A1 and B1, and pretty much spent as much time as I wanted on those to write out the answers as best as I could,” said Felix, an eight-time (soon to be nine-time) member of the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll and Phi Beta Kappa inductee. “After that I just picked out ones I thought I might be able to solve. I read all the questions at least to see if I could work them out.”

Jarrett FelixFelix, who plans to pursue a career in actuarial sciences following graduation, hopes that he will be a pacesetter for future Muhlenberg students.

“It was a cool experience,” he said. “I wish I had gotten started a little earlier, because the more I was practicing and the more different types of things I saw, the more confident I got. I really liked it – it was unlike anything I’ve done in the classroom. After taking the actual test, I was mentally exhausted.

“Now that I’ve done this, hopefully others in the department will take the test in the future.”

For more information on the Putnam Competition, please visit this site: http://math.scu.edu/putnam/index.html

A Record Run

Erica Wenzel knew it was only a matter of time before she broke the Muhlenberg softball program’s all-time record for runs scored.

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Needing to cross the plate two more times entering Thursday’s doubleheader at Swarthmore, the senior co-captain figured it would happen soon. She just didn’t expect the milestone to happen quite like this.

Wenzel matched and broke the record in the same inning, a 10-run third frame in the nightcap that propelled the Mules to a 10-0 victory and a sweep of the twin bill. To the casual observer, Wenzel’s two runs might have seemed like just a footnote in a historic explosion – it was the first time that Muhlenberg posted a 10-run inning in a game in which there was no other scoring.

Indeed, coach Marisa DeStasio informed Wenzel of her accomplishment after the game, but during it she was blissfully unaware of her own piece of history.

“I knew I was somewhere close, but that wasn’t really my priority,” Wenzel said. “That wasn’t something I think about when I’m playing.

“I hadn’t really thought about that, either (both runs coming in the same inning). Now that I do, that’s pretty exciting.”

Thursday’s nightcap was the 134th shutout in program history, and the 34th in which the Mules did all of the game’s scoring in a single inning. The previous high total, however, was only five – in a victory over Franklin & Marshall in 1989. The Mules doubled their pleasure with their first 10-run frame since 2012.

Wenzel began the parade with a single to left center, one of 10 hits for the Mules in the inning – one shy of the school record. She advanced to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on a grand slam by Taylor Trifiolis. That tied the program record set by Devon Barber last year. Wenzel wouldn’t have to wait long to top it.

The Mules sent 15 batters to the plate in the inning, Wenzel’s second turn making her the 11th. With two outs, she worked a walk, then took third on an RBI single by Kelly Kline. Wenzel crossed the plate for the 116th time on a single up the middle by Trifiolis, who she can thank for her record-tying and record-setting runs.

Over the course of her career, Wenzel has certainly had plenty of help.

“We have a very strong team and a lot of good hitters,” Wenzel said. “I owe a lot of my stats to the rest of my team for being able to drive me in. Everyone played a part in that inning.”

Erica WenzelWenzel, who ranks sixth in program history with 143 hits and inside the top 10 in doubles, extra-base hits and total bases, never expected to be setting records at the collegiate level.

“Definitely not,” she admitted. “I was just hoping to play, and play to the best of my abilities.”

To eclipse the mark set by Barber – a teammate and friend for three years – made it that much more special.

“I’m honored that it was Devon,” Wenzel said. “She was a great player, and to have my name up there with hers is really awesome.”

Wenzel, however, may not be out of the woods just yet. Kline, already the all-time leader in home runs, extra-base hits and total bases, is only 14 runs behind and has already clubbed six homers this season. Still, as long as Wenzel keeps getting on base – she’s hitting .410 with a .479 OBP – Kline is likely to bring her home.

“I guess if she does pass me, then good for her,” Wenzel said with a laugh. “She’s been doing really well this year and I hope she continues to do really well. If either of us is scoring it’s good for the team.”

A Thai in Wrestling

There are plenty of students like Che Chengsupanimit at Muhlenberg College. Generally, the sophomore wrestler lives a typical collegiate life, balancing the demands of academics and athletics while enjoying a rewarding social life.

In many ways, though, there aren’t any students like Che Chengsupanimit at Muhlenberg.

Bangkok to AllentownNearly 9,000 miles from his native Thailand, Chengsupanimit is about as far from home as one could be. He came to the United States at age 12, spending his middle school years at a boarding school in Massachusetts before attending high school in Connecticut. He spends three months of every year – the summer – back in Thailand. The rest of the time, at least these days, Chengsupanimit spends worrying about his family back in Bangkok, where anti-government riots have turned violent in recent weeks. Unlike most of his classmates, he feels the very real weight of the goings-on a world away.

“Riots have been pretty common, but the most recent ones have been a lot more serious,” Chengsupanimit said of his homeland, where demonstrators are making a bid to thwart this month’s elections and overthrow its democratically elected prime minster. “Whenever I hear about people getting shot or dying, the first thing I do is make sure it’s not anyone in my family. I send an e-mail back asking them if everything is okay. They have been pretty smart about staying out of the most dangerous areas.

“My mom has been great about being careful and making sure I stay updated with the family. She tells me everything that’s going on with the country as well. It makes it easier to stay in touch.”

Che ChengsupanimitHelping to alleviate those worries in his original home, Chengsupanimit has made himself a second one at Muhlenberg, with plenty of help from his classmates and the school’s administration. He credits both for making his transition – and his experience as an international student – that much smoother.

“I’m definitely a noticeable minority, but it hasn’t bothered me much,” he said. “People seem genuinely interested in my story, so that’s been a great part of my Muhlenberg experience. It’s showed me that our students are really interested in learning about people. The less they have in common with someone, the more curious they are, and they don’t shut anyone out.”

Chengsupanimit is one of an increasing number of international students who have found a second home at Muhlenberg. Fourteen foreign countries are represented in the student body, everywhere from Afghanistan to Thailand to China to Bangladesh to Jordan. A student from Rwanda is scheduled to attend this fall.

“Students have offered me places to stay over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the admissions office has done that too. They’re always inviting me places and it’s been really flattering. I’ve had a bunch of fun experiences like that,” Chengsupanimit said.

Chengsupanimit has also found a nice niche on the wrestling team. He first took up the sport in middle school, and has gradually adapted to the American style since then. This season, the sophomore has nine victories under his belt at 149 pounds, showing consistent improvement over the course of the season, which wraps up Sunday at the NCAA East Regional at King’s. When he goes back home for the summer, he trains with Thailand’s national team, working to master a sport that remains uncommon there.

“Wrestling is not a huge sport there,” Chengsupanimit said. “It’s not very popular, but the top guys usually stay there because there isn’t a lot of depth in the country. It’s a noticeably different style, but being able to practice with them is priceless.”

Che ChengsupanimitAs his second collegiate campaign winds down, Chengsupanimit finds himself observing his wrestling career through a new paradigm.

“The biggest issue has not been finding opportunities to improve; it has been keeping a positive attitude,” he said. “Especially transitioning from high school to college, because it’s a whole different playing field.

“I’m slowly shifting from being outcome oriented – winning and losing, or my place at a tournament – to more of the process. It’s about getting better and giving everything I have to give.”

Chengsupanimit has also given much of himself to the school. In addition to his athletic and academic endeavors, he works in the admissions office and stays in frequent contact with Muhlenberg’s Office of Multicultural Life. As a senior in high school, Chengsupanimit visited Muhlenberg with a teammate, and the rest is history.

“I just fell in love with campus when I was here,” he said. “My interview was great, and everyone was just really nice. I wanted that in a college, so I figured why not? It was already high on my list, but that experience sealed the deal.”

Che ChengsupanimitThe past two months, Chengsupanimit (at left with head coach Jake Calhoun) and his fellow Muhlenberg students have experienced record amount of snowfalls. And even though Chengsupanimit is no stranger to snow, having lived in the Northeast for the last seven years, it’s a far cry from Bangkok, where temperatures are in the 90s.

“It is really cold, but there are times where I’ll look out the window and think, wow, I never would have seen this in Thailand,” he said. “It looks really pretty, but then I walk outside and the cold kicks in.”

As far away from home as he is, Chengsupanimit is far from alone. He has an older brother, who came to America at the same time he did, living and working in Florida. And he still visits his host family – with whom he lived during his high school years and considers a second family – for at least a week before returning to Thailand in the summer. His brother has already expressed a desire to attend Che’s graduation, and even though his mother and family likely won’t be able to make the journey to Allentown, Chengsupanimit makes certain they get to see as much of his new world as possible.

“My mom is hoping someone will film my graduation for her,” Chengsupanimit said. “She doesn’t mind so much, as long as there are pictures to share when I get back! She’s been very level-headed about me being away, and I like to share as many things as I can with her.”

Weekend Preview – February 22-23, 2014

weekend previewMelting snow and the ping of the aluminum bat are two sure signs that spring is starting to break through after the long winter. Baseball, lacrosse and women’s tennis all are scheduled to compete on a weekend highlighted by one winter team competing at the Centennial Conference Championships and the other four gearing up for them.

Men’s Lacrosse vs. York (Pa.) (Saturday, 12:00)

Field conditions permitting, the Mules will make their home debut against a York squad coming off an overtime loss to defending national champion Stevenson. Muhlenberg opened its season with an 11-7 loss at Montclair State. The Spartans, who set a school record with 13 wins last year, are part of a grueling schedule for the Mules: their 14 opponents combined for a .607 winning percentage in 2013. York won last year’s meeting, 15-10.

live stats

Women’s Basketball vs. Ursinus (Saturday, 2:00)

The Mules closed out their regular season looking to take some momentum into the playoffs. For a change, they already know who and where they’ll play in the postseason: Muhlenberg (15-9, 11-6) is the fourth seed and will host fifth-seeded Gettysburg on Wednesday.

Ursinus (11-12, 8-9) won five in a row to put itself in contention for a playoff spot before getting eliminated with a 73-36 loss to Haverford on Wednesday.

The Mules have won 11 straight meetings against the Bears, including a convincing 67-43 victory in Collegeville last month, part of their current stretch of nine wins in 11 games.

live stats | live video

Men’s Basketball vs. Ursinus (Saturday, 4:00)

Muhlenberg (15-9, 10-7) has clinched a playoff berth and is locked into the 4-5 game. The Mules need a win and a Johns Hopkins loss at Washington to host the game; otherwise they will travel to Franklin & Marshall, McDaniel or Johns Hopkins for their first-round clash.

Winless through their first 10 games of the Centennial Conference season, Ursinus (6-18, 4-13) has caught fire of late, winning four of its last seven. The Bears come into Memorial Hall on a three-game winning streak, which includes a 61-56 defeat of F&M.

Muhlenberg won 82-66 when the teams met a month ago for its fourth straight series win. Last year, the Mules swept the Bears in a season series for the first time since 1999-2000.

live stats | live video

Wrestling at Centennial Conference Championships (Saturday, 10:00)

Two Muhlenberg wrestlers are expected to travel to Ursinus to compete at the conference meet. Freshman Jaryd Flank was 4-4 in the CC in a tough 125-pound field that includes two of the top-ranked wrestlers in the country. Sophomore Che Chengsupanimit was 2-6 at 149.

tournament site

Indoor Track & Field at Haverford’s Keogh Invitational (Saturday, 11:00)

After losing a meet to the weather last weekend, the Mules teams have their final tuneup for next weekend’s Centennial Conference Championships.

live results

Women’s Tennis at Vassar (Saturday, 12:00)

The Mules open their spring season against a Vassar team that was ranked 10th in the Northeast Region in the ITA preseason poll.

Baseball at Gallaudet (Sunday, 12:00 doubleheader)

Muhlenberg will get in the second half of its scheduled opening weekend four-game trip (Saturday’s twinbill at Shenandoah was rescheduled as a single game for Sunday, March 23). The forecast calls for weather in the mid-50s in Washington on Sunday – not bad at all. The Mules were 20-20 in 2013; Gallaudet, coached by former Major Leaguer Curtis Pride, went 20-21 and opened its 2014 campaign with a 14-4 win against Marymount on Wednesday.

The Mules opened their last three seasons with doubleheader sweeps of the Bison, winning last year’s games 8-4 and 4-3.

Pearls at the Snell

Erica WenzelMuhlenberg senior softball player Erica Wenzel writes about a recent conference she attended.

A few weekends ago, Coach Ally Boertzel, Kayleigh Thies and I drove down to Ursinus College to attend the Snell-Shillingford Coaching Symposium. Kaitlyn McCaffrey was able to join us on the last day. Student athletes and coaches from the Centennial Conference attended the symposium, and we all had one thing in common (besides being athletes): we were all female.

This symposium was founded for female athletes to learn about the history of women in sports, and provide resources to help them continue to work professionally, for example, through coaching or administrative work.

Snell Shillingford Symposium

After dropping off our bags at the hotel, we took a bus over to Ursinus and jumped right into the weekend. There were many presentations throughout the weekend, but I am just going to highlight a few.

The first presentation, Leading with Personality, presented by Coach DeMarco from Bryn Mawr College, was very interactive and fun. We learned more about ourselves and how other people perceive us. By learning about the different personalities, we also learn how to communicate and work with people of different personalities.

Snell-Shillingford SymposiumThe Many Hats of Coaching was presented by Coach Cantele from Gettysburg College and our own Coach Stuckel. This presentation talked about all the different roles that coaches play. There were 15 different hats (or roles)! Some of the hats that surprised me were the artist hat, travel agent hat, lawyer hat, social director hat and jester hat. It was fun to see both coaches dress up and wear all these different hats.

There were also a couple presentations on Title IX (Understanding Title IX and Its History, and The Status of Gender Equity in Intercollegiate Athletics as Title IX Turns 40) which I found very interesting, mainly because I didn’t know that much before. Did you know that Title IX was actually created because women were discriminated against at higher level institutions, whether getting into graduate school, or becoming a tenured professor?

The conference was empowering and provided a lot of resources for our futures. It gave us the tools to pursue our future in athletics and opened my eyes to many different opportunities and things to think about when I become a coach. I would highly recommend this opportunity for any female athlete who is interested in coaching!

When Worlds Collide

To Seinfield’s George Costanza, worlds colliding was something to avoid at all costs.

Just don’t try telling that to Kim Mui.

After all, Mui has never felt simultaneously more at home and more out of place than she did during Monday’s women’s basketball game between Muhlenberg and Wilkes.

Caught between her old team and the new, the former Mule guard and first-year Colonels graduate assistant found herself in unfamiliar territory in a place she called home for four years. This, however, hardly felt like a rock and a hard place.

Instead of their usual routine, Mui and third-year Wilkes head coach Chris Heery – an assistant for six years with the Mules – spent much of the time leading up to the game catching up with old friends and reminiscing on the trio of Centennial Conference championships they helped bring to the program.

Instead of their former digs, they took up residence in the visitor’s locker room, and then on the visitor’s bench.

Mui was honored as the Mules' "Unsung Hero" in December 2011.

Mui was honored as the Mules’ “Unsung Hero” in December 2011.

“When I got there, I gravitated towards the Muhlenberg bench just because I am so used to it,” Mui said. “I almost wanted to go into their locker room and do the cheer with them.”

Instead of the usual handshakes, Mui exchanged warm hugs with Muhlenberg’s players when the starting lineups were announced.

“I was sitting next to Abby [Stenger] waiting for them to call our names, and she said, ‘do we hug her? Are we supposed to give her a high five or a handshake?’ and I had no idea,” recalled Muhlenberg senior Leeann Lanza. “Colleen [Caldwell] ran out and hugged her, so we were like, ‘okay, we can give her a hug!’ It was so fun.”

“I was told the refs saw that and gave each other looks like ‘what are these girls doing?’” Mui said with a laugh. “I enjoyed that moment a lot.”

So did Mule head coach Ron Rohn, who remarked at the time: “You don’t see that very often. Nobody ever hugs me.”

To complete the weirdness, with her new squad down one with 16.2 seconds to go, Mui found herself cheering against a good friend, pleading for Mule senior Erin Laney to miss the front end of a critical one-and-one.

“It was funny because we were looking to foul and Erin gets the ball and I was like, ‘no, that’s the worst person to foul’ because she’s such a great leader,” Mui said of her former teammate. “Obviously I want my team to win, so I wanted her to miss, which was so weird. After the game I congratulated her, but during it, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I was a nervous wreck.”

The irony wasn’t lost on Lanza and company.

“It was so strange to see her on the other bench,” said Lanza. “We were thinking, ‘why is she sitting on the other side?’ She’s been to so many of our games this year, and this was the one time she’s rooting against us.”

Laney’s free throws, and a desperation miss at the buzzer by Wilkes, brought Monday’s reunion to a thrilling end, a 62-59 victory for the Mules that brought back many fond memories for Mui. After all, she was a member of the program’s winningest class – one that produced 93 victories, CC crowns in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and a pair of ‘Sweet Sixteen’ appearances. A visitor in name only, Memorial Hall couldn’t have felt more like home to Mui.

“I love that gym,” said Mui, who finished her three-year Mule career (an injury sidelined her for one season) with 113 points and 89 rebounds, “and I loved playing here. As soon as you walk in, you’re like ‘wow.’ I’m still very close with the upperclassmen, and it was great to see them and their families.”

Muhlenberg women's basketball 2011. Chris Heery is in the back row, second from left, Ellen Rich is in the middle row, fifth from left, and Kim Mui is on the extreme right of the bottom row.

Muhlenberg women’s basketball 2011. Chris Heery is in the back row, second from left, Ellen Rich is in the middle row, fifth from left, and Kim Mui is on the extreme right of the bottom row.

As it turns out, Mui isn’t the only part of “home” that Heery has brought to Wilkes. One of his top players, junior Ellen Rich, was a freshman reserve center on the 2011 CC championship team. And his first graduate assistant – Mui’s predecessor – was Sheila Cook, a former Mule standout from 2008-11. So when Cook left Wilkes to become an assistant at Scranton, Heery knew just who to call. At the time, Mui was about to embark on a week-long journey to Europe with – who else? – the 2013-14 Mules.

“Two days before I left I got a call from Chris, asking whether I wanted the job,” recalled Mui. “It was happening so fast, but it was a great opportunity. Chris is a great guy, and I knew from Sheila that it was a great chance for me to get into coaching. I’m very happy.”

Wilkes women's basketball 2014. Chris Heery is on the left, Ellen Rich is in the middle, and Kim Mui is still on the extreme right.

Wilkes women’s basketball 2014. Chris Heery is on the left, Ellen Rich is in the middle, and Kim Mui is still on the extreme right.

Along with Muhlenberg’s extended family in Wilkes-Barre, Mui will be back home again soon: Wilkes, as well as Cook’s Scranton squad, will compete in next year’s Scotty Wood Tournament. Or, perhaps the Mule Family Reunion would be more apt.

“There will be a lot of Muhlenberg in the house,” Mui said. “I can’t wait.”

And no matter where she goes, there’s no place like home.

“It was a weird feeling,” Mui said, “but it was just awesome to be able to coach in Memorial Hall, against a program that I love so much and has given me so much.

“It was great to come home.”

Weekend Preview – February 15, 2014

weekend previewThe weekend schedule was abbreviated when the track and field teams’ trip to the Armory in New York was cancelled due to the snow. It was to have been the Mules’ last big meet before the Centennial Conference Championships. The three remaining events involve Muhlenberg teams looking ahead to the postseason.

Women’s Basketball at Franklin & Marshall (Saturday, 1:00)

With a week to go in the regular season, Muhlenberg (13-9, 9-6) is tied for fourth place in the CC with Gettysburg. Swarthmore and Ursinus are both two games back and need big finishes and lots of help to break into the top five and earn a playoff berth.

If the Mules play like they did the first time against their remaining opponents, the two playoff hopefuls won’t get any help from them. Muhlenberg beat Franklin & Marshall by 17, Dickinson by 13 and Ursinus by 24.

A win at Franklin & Marshall combined with losses by Swarthmore (at McDaniel) and Ursinus (home vs. Washington) clinches the Mules’ 20th postseason berth in the 21 years of the CC.

The Diplomats (3-19, 1-14) are a dangerous opponent: Losers of 14 straight, two of their last three losses were one-point setbacks at Johns Hopkins and Ursinus, and it will be their Senior Day.

live stats/video

Men’s Basketball at Franklin & Marshall (Saturday, 3:00)

The standings say it all about the importance of this game:

  • Dickinson 13-2
  • McDaniel 11-4
  • Muhlenberg 10-5
  • Franklin & Marshall 10-5
  • Johns Hopkins 10-5
  • Gettysburg 8-7

The winner could move into sole possession of third place, as Johns Hopkins has to face Dickinson. A Gettysburg loss at home to Haverford clinches a playoff berth for the Mules, win or lose.

Muhlenberg has won four of its last five, including defeats of playoff contenders McDaniel, Dickinson and Gettysburg (the latter two on the road). The Diplomats have lost three of their last five, including a stunning collapse on Wednesday at last-place Ursinus. F&M led 24-1 at one point in that game and was up 35-16 at halftime.

The Mules have lost five straight to F&M, including a 76-64 setback earlier this season and playoff losses each of the last two years, and have not defeated the Diplomats at the Mayser Center since the 2001 CC playoffs.

live stats/video

Wrestling vs. Washington and Lee/Ursinus (Saturday, 12:00)

These are the final matches for the Mules before next Saturday’s CC Championships. The bout to watch is at 125 against Ursinus, where Muhlenberg freshman Jaryd Flank could face Christopher Donaldson, who is ranked No. 1 in Division III.

live video

Weekend Preview – February 8, 2014

weekend previewWith the Centennial Conference Championships just two weeks away in wrestling and three weeks off in basketball and track, this weekend’s contests offer potential postseason previews.

Women’s Basketball at Gettysburg (Saturday, 1:00)

Here are the Centennial Conference standings heading into Saturday’s games:

  • Haverford 11-2
  • Johns Hopkins 12-3
  • McDaniel 9-4
  • Muhlenberg 9-5
  • Gettysburg 8-5
  • Swarthmore 7-8
  • Ursinus/Washington 5-8

If the order doesn’t change, Muhlenberg and Gettysburg will face each other in the first round of the CC playoffs. But both teams, who have combined to win the last three CC championships (the Mules in 2011 and 2012 and the Bullets last year) are looking to move up in the standings and avoid the 4-5 game.

Win or lose, Muhlenberg is in great position for making the playoffs. The Mules close out the CC regular season against Franklin & Marshall (1-12), Dickinson (1-13) and Ursinus, while Swarthmore, the team with the most reasonable chance of breaking into the top five, still has to play McDaniel and Haverford.

Gettysburg is the hottest team in the CC, coming into the game on a four-game winning streak, and is 7-1 at home this season. The Bullets are holding opponents to a CC-low 32.5-percent shooting in league games; Muhlenberg is third in that category at 33.7.

The Mules won the first meeting this season, 62-57, and have taken five of the last seven series meetings at Gettysburg.

live stats/video

Men’s Basketball at Gettysburg (Saturday, 3:00)

The men’s standings show the importance of this game:

  • Dickinson 11-2
  • McDaniel 10-3
  • Franklin & Marshall 9-4
  • Johns Hopkins 9-4
  • Muhlenberg 8-5
  • Gettysburg 7-6
  • Washington 4-9

Six teams are battling for the five playoff spots, and these two are fifth and sixth. If the Mules win, they will have a two-game lead for the last spot with four to play. A Gettysburg win throws the playoff race into a mad scramble the last two weeks of the season. Muhlenberg still has games left against Franklin & Marshall (away) and Dickinson, while the Bullets finish the regular season with tough road games against F&M and McDaniel.

Both teams are trying to rebound from losses. Gettysburg had a three-game winning streak (which included a 54-38 defeat of F&M) snapped with a 67-55 loss at Dickinson on Wednesday. Muhlenberg fell at Haverford on Wednesday but has not dropped back-to-back CC games all season.

The Mules closed the game on a 10-2 run to win the first meeting this season, 77-69. Muhlenberg has lost its last three games at Gettysburg, last year in overtime.

live stats/video

Indoor Track & Field at Frank Colden Invitational (Saturday, 9:00)

The Muhlenberg teams return to Ursinus for the first time since competing in the CC Championships there last February. One of the events to watch is the women’s 60-meter hurdles, where Ursinus’ Victoria Goodenough and Muhlenberg’s Stephanie Carnevale rank 1-2, respectively in the CC this season. At last year’s championship meet, Carnevale edged Goodenough by seven hundredths of a second to win gold en route to becoming an All-American.

Wrestling at Merchant Marine with Johns Hopkins (Saturday, 5:00)

Muhlenberg freshman Jaryd Flank will be put to the test against two of the best 125-pounders in the CC. Defending CC champion Paul Bewak of Johns Hopkins is 26-1 this season, currently ranked third in Division III. Merchant Marine’s Mike Mui is 16-4.

 

 

Polar Express

Nick Gazzillo has gone through a cold stretch or two during his many years playing baseball. None of them, however, could compare to what Muhlenberg’s senior outfielder experienced recently.

Polar Bear PlungeGazzillo and 11 of his Mule teammates took part in a polar bear plunge at Scott Park in Easton, braving the frigid waters of the Lehigh River on a chilly Saturday morning.

“We all just ran into the river,” Gazzillo recounted. “Most of us, like myself, ran out as soon as we dunked our heads in. Some brave – and stupid – guys swam all the way out to the safety boat. There are no words to describe how cold it really is. It’s not as bad going in as going out. It is really more shocking than anything when you go in, but coming out your muscles tense up and it becomes hard to move. It’s overwhelming and exciting at the same time.”

Polar Bear Plunge movie

The reason Gazzillo and his teammates were there certainly helped to warm them up.

The event was held to benefit Special Olympics Pennsylvania, for which the Muhlenberg baseball squad raised more than $2,000. Each plunger was responsible for $50 in order to participate, so the Mules created a team web page to facilitate online donations. One player – freshman Jakob Cayne, managed to raise $1,650 himself, a huge boost to the thousands of athletes who take part in Special Olympics events around the commonwealth.

“We worked together and advertised it to our team as a way to help those who don’t get the same opportunity we do,” Gazzillo said. “We get to play 40 games a year, compete, have fans watch us and feel something special that every athlete feels. The guys really responded to this and we had a lot of people who wanted to help and jump in. Giving others who don’t have the same physical capabilities as us a chance to do the same feels great.”

Polar Bear PlungeGazzillo, a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), took the plunge last year with two other baseball players. This year, with more time to plan, Gazzillo and his SAAC mates made the event bigger. In addition to the 12 players who dove into the icy waters, 10 of their Mule teammates came out in support, along with other members of the school’s athletic department.

Though Gazzillo won’t be around to organize the plunge a year from now, he is confident that participation will only continue to grow.

“We want to have as many people do it as we can,” Gazzillo said. “It’s such an important cause, and even though I won’t be there next year, I know my teammates are going to do a great job with it.”

With field hockey coach and SAAC advisor Megan Eddinger and teammate Matthew Lawsky, a fellow SAAC member, around to take the reins next year, the Mules’ future plungers are in good hands.

“I really can’t say enough about the effort that Coach Eddinger and Matt Lawsky put in. After doing it last year I – along with Nick Kennedy and Matt Clarke – know this is something we can do for years to come.”

For more on the Division III partnership with Special Olympics, please click here.

Just Like Old Times

The Muhlenberg women’s basketball team paid tribute to the many former players who returned to Memorial Hall yesterday by hosting a post-alumnae game reception. And by playing a one-point game against McDaniel.

The thrilling 60-59 win added another chapter to a remarkable rivalry that has included eight one-point games in the last 13 years.

That’s eight one-point games in 30 meetings with the Green Terror. Over the same stretch, the Mules have played a total of six one-point games in 315 meetings with all other opponents.

Here’s a rundown of those nailbiters:

  • 2001-02 Western Maryland 83, Muhlenberg 82 (ot)
  • 2001-02 Western Maryland 53, Muhlenberg 52 – Centennial Conference semifinal
  • 2002-03 Muhlenberg 63, McDaniel 62
  • 2005-06 Muhlenberg 65, McDaniel 64
  • 2005-06 Muhlenberg 56, McDaniel 55 (ot) – Centennial Conference semifinal
  • 2008-09 Muhlenberg 77, McDaniel 76 (ot)
  • 2009-10 McDaniel 72, Muhlenberg 71 (ot)
  • 2013-14 Muhlenberg 60, McDaniel 59

Not making the list was another overtime game, won by McDaniel by a relatively comfortable margin of three points in 2003-04. In the Mules’ CC championship season of 2005-06, they defeated the Green Terror three times by a total of five points.

Incredibly, yesterday’s game was the fourth of the eight decided on free throws with fewer than 5 seconds remaining. In 2002-03, Muhlenberg’s Lindsay Tis made a pair of winning free throws with 3 seconds to play. In 2008-09, Alexis Bates sank a pair with 2.1 showing as the Mules escaped one of few close calls they had in their undefeated CC season.

Erin Laney free throwMcDaniel’s win the following season came on two free throws with 2.5 seconds to play. Yesterday, Erin Laney made the second of two foul shots for the winning point with 0.8 showing on the clock. In the screen cap at left, Laney’s shot goes through the basket as the anxious Mule men’s team looks on.

The two teams had gotten away from their thrilling games the last few years as McDaniel went through a rebuilding phase. Muhlenberg won all six meetings between 2010-11 and 2012-13 by an average of 16 points.

But McDaniel is back near the top of the CC standings, where it resided for most of the last decade. After yesterday’s game, the Green Terror and Mules are tied for third place in the CC with identical 9-4 records. Only three weeks remain in the regular season, and both teams are in good position to make the playoffs. If they do, the current Mules could join their predecessors who played McDaniel in the postseason eight times.

And if that happens, there’s a good chance it will be yet another one-point game. DSC_4820

Alumnae returning yesterday included:

(front) Abra Like ’08, Kaitlin Strumph ’09, Kristen Piscadlo ’06, Meg Malatack ’03, Lindsay Tis ’04, Gwen Doyle ’05, Randi Baran ’03, Kathleen Naddaff ’12, Alita Zabrecky ’13, Kelly McKeon ’11

(back) Ron Rohn, Michelle Feldman ’08, Jill Friedman Crossan ’04, Tiffany Kirk ’06, Lacie Smith ’06, Sam Tager ’06, Julie Kelly ’13, Kate Clawson ’13, Lauren Boyle Dexter ’09, Bethany Enterline ’09