By Eric Malave
It has been tough for the Rider wrestling team to pick up a win this season, as it has struggled against some of the nation’s best.
Right after facing off against Missouri, the Broncs took on No. 2-ranked Iowa State, which defeated the Broncs 35-0, winning all 10 scheduled bouts.
“Iowa State is just one of the best teams in the U.S.,” said Head Coach Gary Taylor. “Iowa is ranked second in the nation for a reason.”
Seven wrestlers from Iowa State are nationally ranked in the top 15 of their weight classes.
“Our kids had the chance to wrestle better kids,” Taylor said. “I am not disappointed in the effort.”
The Broncs placed a few new faces in the lineup for the match against Iowa.
“It was great to see what some of the younger guys were able to do tonight,” Taylor said.
Freshman Mitch Fenton wrestled in the 125-pound weight class for Rider (0-2). He lost 3-2 in the final round to redshirt freshman Mark Kist. Junior Zac Cunliffe wrestled in the 133-pound weight class, losing 12-4 to No. 8 sophomore Nick Fanthorpe in a major decision.
“Cunliffe is coming back from a year off from an injury,” Taylor said. “He needs to get his timing back.”
Sophomore Fred Rodgers put up a good effort against No. 14 sophomore Nick Gallick in the 141-pound weight class. However, he lost 5-0 in the final round.
Senior Don Fisch also showed great effort. He’s currently ranked fourth in the nation as he bumped up eight pounds to wrestle in the 149-pound weight class. He faced off against No. 14 sophomore Mitch Mueller and lost a close one 3-2.
Sophomore Rob Morrison fought hard in a match against No. 11 sophomore Cyler Sanderson in the 157-pound weight class. Sanderson is the younger brother of wrestling legend and Iowa State Head Coach Cael Sanderson. Morrison showed a lot of aggression against Sanderson and was able to put up a battle, but came up short, losing 10-5.
At 165-pounds, sophomore Mike Darling lost by a tech fall to his opponent, No. 9 redshirt freshman Jon Reader. He fought off his back during the match and refused to get pinned. Freshman Joe Ferber wrestled in the 174-pound weight class, and lost 6-3 in the final round.
Junior Doug Umbehauer wrestled the 184-pound weight class against the top ranked wrestler in the weight class, sophomore Jake Varner. The style Umbehauer used against Varner was aggressive, but he could not take his opponent down for the win. He lost 6-3.
Senior T.J. Morrison wrestled in the 197-pound weight class for Rider. He scored a take down in the corner of the mat right before the third period ended. However, he still lost 5-4 to senior David Bertolino.
In the final match of the night, junior heavyweight Peter Reid lost 19-8 in the third round to No. 8 sophomore David Zabriskie in a tech fall.
“It will take a whole year for this team to get good,” Taylor said. “But by the end of the year this team will get there.”
On Nov. 17, the Broncs were then off to the Keystone Classic hosted by Pennsylvania. They placed fourth out of 10 teams.
The Broncs were able to find more success at the Keystone Classic. Even without their full lineup, they were able to place ahead of strong teams like Arizona State.
Fisch wrestled in the 149-pound weight class at the Keystone Classic. He was seeded second in the tournament and was able to win four of his five bouts. In the finals, he lost to top-seeded Scott Ervin of Appalachian State by tech fall.
Morrison was seeded second in the 157-pound weight class. He won three of his four matches. Morrison and Taylor were surprised by the seeding, but at the end of the day, he proved that he had earned the high ranking.
Umbehauer and Cunliffe both placed third in the 184- and 133-pound weight classes. Umbehauer was able to win four of his five matches. Cunliffe, making his way back into things, won five of his six matches. Rodgers placed sixth in the 141-pound weight class and won three of his six matches.
Also wrestling for Rider were Darling, who won one of two matches, and Fenton, who won one of three matches.
Overall, the Broncs finished fourth in the tournament, with two runner-ups, two third-place finishers and a sixth-place finisher.
This is the type of competition the Rider wrestlers need to get back on track. The Broncs need to shake off the last two team losses and continue to wrestle hard in order to have a better season.
“This is what we have so far,” Taylor said. “It’s a work in progress, but I’m sure by the end of the year we will be a strong team.”
The Broncs wrestle in the Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 30.