Broncs hold on to No. 20 ranking

By Mike Ricchione

Thanksgiving break has come and gone and on Dec. 6, so will the nearly two-week layoff for the wrestling team, which on Dec. 3 the NCAA ranked No. 20 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Poll.

The last time the Broncs were on the mat was on Nov. 24 when they wrestled in the Keystone Classic at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rider placed second in the tournament, behind the hosts, on the efforts of redshirt renior Jesse Dellavecchia and redshirt sophomore George Walton’s victories in the 157 and 184-pound weight classes, respectively.

Dellavecchia started strong with a technical fall over Eric Carter of Duke and a pinfall of Sacred Heart’s TJ Calas. The progressing matches were tighter as Dellavecchia earned decisions over Noah Chan of Franklin & Marshall, 10-3, Justin McCoy of Virginia, 8-2, and a 6-3 overtime victory over Appalachian State’s Matt Zovstoski.

Although Dellavecchia won the title, he found things in his wrestling to improve on.

“Everytime I go out to compete, I always gain more confidence in myself and my wrestling ability.” said Dellavecchia. “There was also some technical errors that I made that when I fix them, it can make a huge difference in my future performances.”

Walton improved to 1-1 with a 14-5 major decision over Drexel’s Owen Brooks to kickoff the tournament.

In a similar fashion to Dellavecchia, Walton finished his run to the title with three decisions over Michael Battista of Virginia, 3-1, Jesse Quatse of Pennsylvania, 9-4, and Appalachian State’s Julian Gorring for the title, 5-2.

Junior Ethan Laird reached the championship match but was beaten by Jay Aiello of Virginia via decision, 4-1, at the 197-pound weight class.

Redshirt freshman Richie Koeller and graduate student Gino Fluri placed third at the 133 and 149-pound weight classes, respectively.

“Thanksgiving break was a great time to give the body a rest by taking some time off the mat and just getting some light cardio to keep my weight under control for the upcoming matches,” Dellavecchia said of the 11-day layover. “This is important because once practice starts again, everyone will be excited to practice and [for] our match against Bloomsburg Friday.”

Dellavecchia is the Broncs’ top-ranked wrestler, rated as high as fourth by WrestleStat. FloWrestling and WrestleStat agreed on Laird’s highest rank of No. 12. Sherry is also No. 12 per WrestleStat.

With WrestleStat ranking the top 33 competitors at each weight, Walton and redshirt senior heavyweight Ryan Cloud are ranked No. 27 and 33 respectively.

“The emphasis coming off our recent Thanksgiving break is to get back to work on developing our athletes daily and working on remaining consistent with our training so it translates into success during our competitions,” Head Coach John Hangey said of the plan for the Broncs’ preparations for the upcoming duals.

Next up for the Broncs is a road, Mid-American Conference (MAC) dual at Bloomsburg, where they won 28-15 last season, on Dec. 6 before their Alumni Gym opener against Central Michigan, another MAC adversary, on Dec. 8. 

Last season’s episode of Rider vs. Bloomsburg featured the Broncs riding two consecutive injury defaults to victory as well as a pin by redshirt senior Dean Sherry over Gavin Hale, redshirt junior Jonathan Tropea earned a decision over Willy Girard, an NCAA qualifier a year ago, and an overtime victory by Laird over Kyle Murphy. 

Notable Huskies victories include decisions from Shawn Orem and Nate Newberry over redshirt senior Anthony Cefolo and Fluri respectively.

On Dec. 3, Dellavecchia was ranked 6th in the nation by The Open Mat, seventh by InterMat and eighth by FloWrestling. Sherry was ranked fifth by FloWrestling Laird was ranked 12th by FloWrestling, 13th by InterMat and 17th by The Open Mat.

The Bloomsburg dual will begin at 7 p.m. while the Central Michigan dual will be an afternoon event with the wrestling scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

Follow Mike Ricchione on Twitter for the latest on Rider wrestling.

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