By Mike Ricchione
Despite a lackluster return from injury from the Broncs’ lone 2018 NCAA Qualifier, the wrestling team cruised past George Mason, 30-6 and Clarion, 23-10 in the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) competition on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2.
Senior Dean Sherry, who qualified for the NCAAs last season by winning the EWL Tournament at 174, has been out with a knee injury since Jan. 1 when he forfeited out of the Southern Scuffle.
Freshman George Walton took his place at 165 while he was recovering and went 2-4, including a 7-2 decision over George Mason’s Neil Schuster.
Sherry’s return to the mat started out well as he recorded the first takedown of the match but he couldn’t keep down Clarion’s Max Wohlabaugh for long as he would score six-straight points for the decision.
“I didn’t perform the way I wanted to but I’d like to see where I am after this match. I’ve got a lot to improve on,” Sherry said.
Senior Mike Fagg-Daves, who suffered a knee injury during the Southern Scuffle, has settled into a nice rhythm since returning on Jan. 11 against Drexel.
Fagg-Daves won over Paul Pierce, of George Mason, via a 14-6 major decision, and toyed with Clarion’s Tyler Bagoly with an attempt at a high-risk move in the third period of a 10-4 victory.
“That’s just me trying to have fun out there,” Fagg-Daves said.
Fagg-Daves is 5-1 since the Southern Scuffle.
Junior Anthony Cefelo came into the Clarion bout with a four-match pin streak. He had the Golden Eagles Seth Koleno’s shoulders inches away from a fifth-straight.
“I thought it was a pin, but the ref said it wasn’t,” said Cefelo. “It’s not a big deal. You just go out there and get ready for your next match.”
Cefelo extended his match-winning streak to seven with an 11-3 major decision.
The lineup still has one flaw, according to Rider Head Coach John Hangey.
When asked if he had his best lineup with Sherry returning, Hangey said, “If I could figure out [the] 149 [weight class,] I’d tell you yes.”
The duties at the 149 weight class were shared by juniors Gary Dinmore and Evan Fidelibus and both men came up empty.
Dinmore lost via an 8-4 decision over George Mason’s Tejon Anthony while Fidelibus was shutout, 9-0, to Clarion’s Avery Shay.
Junior Jesse Dellevecchia, ranked No. 13 by theopenmat.com, continued his path of destruction with a 15-0 tech fall over the Patriots Ryan Yorkdale and a 6-2 decision over the Golden Eagles Evan Delong at 165.
Junior Jonathan Tropea and Senior Gino Fluri went two-for-two at 125 and 157, respectively.
Hangey held a team meeting after the loss to No. 16 Iowa State. He’s been satisfied with the team’s performance since then.
“I think they’ve responded to what we’ve challenged them on. I think their aggressiveness is where it needs to be,” Hangey said.
Rider has two road EWL bouts on tap against Lock Haven on Feb. 8 and Bloomsberg on Feb 10. The Lock Haven dual will be the first since Assistant Coach Ryan Wolfe left the program and returned to Rider.
“I appreciate [Lock Haven] giving me the opportunity of my first coaching job,” Wolfe said. “I know they’re in our conference, but I have nothing but good things to say about them. But obviously, back at Rider, my alma mater, all I want to do is just win so, I definitely want to go there and beat ‘em.”