By Carlos Toro
The wrestling team started its Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) defense with a big, road, dual-meet win at Lock Haven on Dec. 3.
The Broncs defeated Lock Haven 20-14 behind wins for nationally ranked wrestlers B.J. Clagon and Chad Walsh, both juniors, and senior Ryan Wolfe.
Assistant Head Coach John Hangey said the win against Lock Haven was important in the team’s defense of its EWL crown.
“It’s important to get the ball rolling in these meets,” Hangey said. “I thought we competed real hard against a good Lock Haven team. We had a couple of guys have outstanding performances and it’s important to get the first win under our belts.”
Rider started the meet with two wins coming from junior J.R. Wert at 125 pounds and sophomore Anthony Cefolo at 135 pounds. Wert defeated Jake Field 4-1 and Cefolo got a 13-2 major decision over Joe Ghione to give the Broncs an early 7-0 lead.
Lock Haven soon turned the tide with two wins when Ronnie Perry, who is the No. 20 nationally ranked wrestler at 141 pounds, scored a 17-2, technical-fall win against Broncs freshman Evan Fidelibus, who placed third at the Keystone Classic in that same weight class. Perry got the win against Fidelibus in six minutes and 12 seconds.
Lock Haven’s Kyle Shoop got a 6-3 decision victory over 157-pound Broncs’ junior Jesse Rodgers. At that point, Lock Haven got the 8-7 lead, but it would be the first and only time Lock Haven would be ahead of the Broncs.
Clagon and Walsh then started the Broncs’ comeback with wins over Kyle Hammond and Jared Siegrist. Clagon, nationally ranked at No. 15 at 157 pounds, shut out Hammond with a 6-0 decision win.
Clagon said he was happy to be back on the mat and competing.
“It felt great,” Clagon said. “Not competing isn’t too much fun. I love to be out there with my team each and every time. I just got to keep training and improving my conditioning more and more.”
Walsh followed with a 10-1 major decision over Jared Siegrist at 165 pounds to push Rider’s lead to 14-8 and redshirt junior Wayne Stinson made it 17-8 Rider with a 7-3 decision over Tyler Wood.
In the 184-pound matchup, junior Michael Fagg-Daves had a 3-2 lead after the second period, but fell in the third period to Corey Hazel to lose the match 5-3.
The loss cut the Broncs’ lead to 17-11, but nationally ranked No. 11 Wolfe put the match away with an 8-3 decision over Tristan Sponseller at 197. Lock Haven heavyweight Thomas Haines closed out the meet with a 10-4 decision over Broncs’ redshirt junior Mauro Correnti to account for the 20-14 final score, but, at that point, Rider had already secured the EWL opening win.
Hangey said the team benefited from Clagon and Wolfe coming back into the fold after not competing in the Keystone Classic.
“That’s the thing about these dual meets, you want to have your big guns out there,” Hangey said. “We specifically took some guys out of a couple of competitions just to make sure we come into this meet against Lock Haven at 100 percent.”
The last time the schools met, Rider came away with a 27-6 victory at Alumni Gym back on Jan. 16.
Rider’s next meet will be its first home meet of the season when it hosts Penn on Dec. 10. That meet will begin at 7 p.m. in Alumni Gym.
Hangey said going up against Penn is a huge opportunity, considering it is ranked 19th in the nation as a team.
“What we have is a chance to showcase our best against a team like Penn,” Hangey said. “To get a win against a top-20 school is a major accomplishment and one that will get people to notice us.”