By Mike Ricchione
Graduate student Chad Walsh and junior Dean Sherry finished on top of their weight classes at the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) Championships on March 3, despite an overall lackluster performance by the team.
After clinching a share of the EWL dual championship with Edinboro, the Broncs were favored to win the 2018 EWL Tournament.
Rider came into the tournament with eight wrestlers seeded in the top three, including freshman Ethan Laird earning the No. 1 seed at 197 pounds.
“Having eight of our guys pre-seeded amongst the top three in the EWL demonstrates the team balance we’ve shown all year,” Head Coach John Hangey said.
The Broncs finished the tournament with two first-place finishes by back-to-back All-American Walsh at 165 and Sherry at 174.
Those wins by Walsh and Sherry qualified each of them for the NCAA Championships.
Walsh’s path to his third EWL title began in the semifinals when he earned an 11-2 major decision over Fritz Hoehn of Edinboro.
With that victory, Walsh, ranked No. 6 in his weight class nationally, only had one obstacle in his way of the title, and it was a big one.
Walsh needed to face the only opponent he had lost to this season, Chance Marsteller of Lock Haven.
On Jan. 27, Marsteller won via an 8-4 decision over Walsh during a dual meet.
At the end of one period on March 3, it was deadlocked at zero. Marsteller chose bottom to start the second period.
Marsteller managed an escape, however, Walsh came away with 1:11 of riding time before that.
Walsh took bottom in the third and won 2-1 to clinch the title.
Sherry’s path to the finals started with a 12-4 major decision over Gabe Stark of Cleveland State.
His semi-final matchup was against Dom Rigous of Clarion, and he came out with an 11-4 decision.
In the final, it would be Sherry against Ty Schoffstall of Edinboro.
Sherry came away with a 5-4 lead at the end of the first.
Schoffstall chose bottom to start the second period. At the end of the period, Sherry had a 9-7 lead.
Sherry finished with a 16-12 decision for the title.
“Chad and Dean both wrestled great tournaments today,” Hangey said after the tournament. “Chad avenged an early-season loss and won his third EWL Championship. Dean was very aggressive today, and it really paid off for the team.”
Senior JR Wert and Laird both made it to the finals of their weight classes at 125 and 197, respectively, but came up short.
Junior Anthony Cefelo, sophomore Gary Dinmore and senior All-American BJ Clagon finished third at 133, 149 and 157, respectively.
Graduate student Mauro Correnti finished fourth at 285, and senior Tyson Dippery took fifth at 141.
Rider finished second in the team rankings with a score of 72.5 points, nine behind first-place Edinboro.
“We came into the tournament today with higher expectations both as a team and individuals, but this is a tough conference with good kids and good teams,” Hangey said.
Rider is sending three wrestlers to the NCAA Championship, with Walsh and Sherry winning their weight classes and Wert receiving an at-large bid.
In 2016, Walsh was one match away from wrestling for a national title as a sophomore.
The NCAA Championships will take place from March 15 to 17 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
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