To be the best, you have to play the best.
The Rider wrestling team is on a mission to prepare for the NCAA Championships, and the only way to do that is go out and play the top teams in the country. In doing so, the Broncs (0-1) lost their home opener to the No. 6 Missouri Tigers, 34-4.
“We wrestled them for a reason,” Head Coach Gary Taylor said. “We have high goals.”
This is just one of the wrestling giants Taylor scheduled to face this year. Rider will also square off against another Big 12 power in No. 3 Iowa State.
“To be a bullfighter you have to fight bulls,” Taylor said. “You have to go against the best. Some of [Missouri’s] kids have been ranked in the top three and they’re some of the best that the U.S. has to offer.”
The lone winner for the Broncs was 141-pound senior Don Fisch, who moved up a weight class to beat No. 9-ranked Josh Wagner in a 149-pound match.
It didn’t look promising for the No. 4-ranked Fisch, who was down 5-0 after the first period. Down 8-7 in the third, Fisch took over the match, going on an incredible run to defeat Wagner 17-9 in a major decision, giving the home crowd a reason to make noise.
“I heard the crowd going,” Fisch said. “I knew his strategy before I went out there. He shrugged me right off, then power halfed me. I wasn’t all there early so I just paced myself in the beginning.”
No. 14-ranked 197-pounder T.J. Morrison lost 7-6 to No. 4-ranked Maxwell Askren while battling through a leg cramp. Morrison was able to pick up two points late in the third to cut the lead to one but just didn’t have enough time to have a chance to take the match.
Junior Doug Umbehauer, who is ranked 14th in the nation among 184-pound wrestlers, lost 22-7 on a tech fall to No. 6 Raymond Jordan.
“We just need to keep fighting as hard as we can,” Taylor said. “Fisch, [Morrison], and [Umbehauer] need to gain experience from these matches in order to get better and prepare for the end of the year when they battle in the NCAA Championships.”
Missouri’s wrestlers controlled other matches as well.In the opening bout, Tony Pescaglia won a 10-4 decision over freshman Mitch Fenton in the 125-pound class. In the 133-pound class, No. 2-ranked Tyler McCormick defeated junior Zac Cunliffe 8-2. Junior Marcus Hoehn beat sophomore Fred Rodgers in the 141-pound matchup 6-1.
After Fisch picked up four points to make it 9-4, 157-pound Emanuel Brooks won 8-4 over sophomore Rob Morrison. No. 18-ranked 165-pounder Nicholas Marable won a technical decision over sophomore Mike Darling, 18-3. James Williamson won a 7-2 decision over freshman Joe Ferber and in a 285-pound match, Mark Ellis won by fall against junior Peter Reid in 2:18 for the match’s final score.
“I’m proud of the fact that we fought hard,” Taylor said. “We can get better, we’re pretty young, we will be better in the second half when we get some of the wrestlers back.”
Taylor was grateful for the fans’ support in this big match.
“I really want to thank [Friday] night’s crowd,” Taylor said. “I appreciate all the students and members of the community for coming out and supporting us. We were able to get Missouri to come here and the crowd was tremendous.”
The team will be at home tonight to take on No. 3-ranked Iowa State at 7 p.m.