Even after winning their seventh straight match against city rival Franklin & Marshall, the Millersville wrestling team has not been able to shake the dark rain cloud that has lingered above them all season.
One day after fellow teammate and friend Raymond Bennett passed away, the Marauders were able to compose themselves enough to defeat F&M 29-16 and retain the Rupp Cup. The Rupp Cup is an annual tournament played between the two schools coached by Dr. Ted Rupp during his long and successful career. Rupp, a member of the Millersville University athletics Hall of fame, started the Millersville wrestling program from scratch, and passed away Feb. 10 at the age of 94.
The Marauders once again used a patchwork lineup for their match, but this time it was to their advantage. Both teams won individual matches, but it benefitted the Marauders more as they won the 125-pound match and the heavyweight match by forfeit. Millersville also had three wrestlers wrestle up in weight class due to injury problems that they have struggled with all season.
Millersville was behind after the first three matches 12-6, but senior J.J. Lester pulled the team within two after winning his match by decision. The Marauders would not look back from there. They won their next four matches to go ahead 23-12 with two matches remaining. Millersville had wins from freshman and little used Zac Wawrzyniak-Bush by major decision, reliable senior Jarrett Hostetter, sophomore Shane Smith, and freshman Josh Marguad. The five straight matches won by the Marauders was enough to put them ahead for good as they held on for the win.
The win improved Millersville’s all-time record versus Franklin & Marshall to 16-3 and Millersville finished their 2009-2010 season with a 4-13-1 dual meet record. However, the win did not overshadow the loss the team suffered on Friday when they found out that teammate Raymond Bennett passed away at home.
Bennett was 6-7 this year after having his season cut short due to injury. Bennett qualified with three other Marauders last season for a National Championship and finished the year with a 20-15 record. Things will not be the same this year as the team will prepare to place as many individuals as possible in the nationals with Bennett.
The road to nationals will begin March 6 at Pucillo Gymnasium when Millersville hosts the NCAA East Regionals. The top wrestlers at the Regionals will advance to the NCAA national championships. The Marauders hope that the black cloud will have lifted at this point, because it has been a long season for this team which had entered the year with high expectations. Hopefully they will place enough wrestlers to redeem the dual season, but nothing will replace the loss of their former teammate and friend Raymond Bennett.