By Mike Ricchione
Without the services of redshirt senior Jesse Dellavecchia or junior Ethan Laird, the wrestling team ended the dual season the same way they started it, with a win against a Big Ten school.
Rider (12-3, 7-1 MAC) traveled to Maryland (2-17, 0-9 Big Ten) for a rematch of the Virginia Duals semifinals on Jan. 11, where the Broncs won 24-8 before defeating Virginia for the title. It also happened to be senior night for five Terrapins.
“Tonight was a complete team effort,” Head Coach John Hangey said after the match. “When you sit two starters [Dellavecchia and Laird], you need other guys to step up and they did just that.”
There were only three repeat matchups in the dual, Rider won all three of those at the Virginia Duals and at the Xfinity Center Pavilion.
Redshirt junior Jonathan Tropea spoiled Brandon Cray’s senior night with a 5-1 decision to start the dual at the 125-pound weight class.
Redshirt senior Pete Lipari held on for a 4-3 decision against Hunter Baxter at 141 pounds to build Rider’s lead to nine.
Having to protect a two-point lead, redshirt senior Ryan Cloud closed out the dual with another bonus-point victory, defeating Parker Robinson by major decision, 12-4, in the heavyweight division. Rider went on to win 22-16.
Cloud heads into the postseason having won his last two matches by bonus points and five of his last six overall.
Neither Dellavecchia or Jahi Jones got the nod at 157 pounds for their respective teams as the weight class was contested between redshirt sophomore Travis Layton and Lucas Cordio.
Dellavecchia won via disqualification against Jones in the Virginia Dual. The disqualification also cost the Terps a team point.
Cordio won with a pinfall in the third period to get the Terps on board after the Broncs won the first four matches, all from decisions.
Redshirt sophomore George Walton looked to avenge his loss to Kyle Jasenski earlier in the season but instead got Phillip Spadafora, who recently made the jump from 174 to 184 pounds.
Walton fell one point short of consecutive major decisions, defeating Spadafora, 12-5.
Redshirt senior Dean Sherry wrestled Josh Ugalde, someone he had not squared off with before during the season, but faced off when Maryland visited Rider last season
Sherry won this matchup via decision, 7-4, after losing a major decision a year ago. Sherry is on a six-match winning streak and has won nine of his last 10.
The Terps only won three bouts but were all with bonus points with the Cordio pin, Kyle Cochran’s 11-2 major decision over redshirt sophomore Joe Casey and a Jaron Smith forfeit at 165 and 197-pounds respectively.
Next up for Rider is the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament. The two-day event is scheduled for March 7 and 8 on the campus of Northern Illinois.
Automatic qualifier allocations for the NCAA tournament will be announced on Feb. 27. According to FloWrestling’s projections, the MAC is projected to have at least three automatic qualifiers at each weight except for the 165-pound weight class, which is the only weight class predicted with one.
Automatic qualifiers are allocated based on meeting two of three benchmarks in the NCAA’s coaches’ panel, Rating Percentage Index (RPI) and winning percentage against Division I opponents. Conference champions punch their ticket to Minneapolis regardless of the league.
Last season while Rider was a part of the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL), the EWL only had one automatic qualifier at each weight except for the 133, 165 and 285-pound weight classes.