By Thomas Albano
The Broncs (4-1, 1-0 EWL), who are ranked No. 22 on the most recent USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I Coaches Poll, competed in the Keystone Classic on Nov. 24, where they finished sixth out of 12 teams.
Donald McNeil, a 197-pound junior, said that though Rider would have preferred a better finish at the Keystone Classic, the team was still happy with how it competed.
“As a team we had a bunch of guys who wrestled tough,” he said. “No one wrestled poorly. I think there were some matches that some guys could have won, but they fought hard and lost close battles. Overall, I think we were capable of placing higher, but there were some very tough teams there and we competed well with them.”
McNeil, who was seeded fifth in his weight class, won four out of his six matches and finished fifth. He was pleased with his performance, but believed he could have done better.
“I beat some good guys to take fifth, but both matches I lost I had opportunities to win that I blew,” McNeil said. “I was happy to finish fifth, but the matches I lost, and even the matches I won, showed I still have a lot to improve upon.”
Other notable performances included: Robert Deutsch, a 125-pound sophomore, who was seeded third and won three of his four bouts to finish second; Ramon Santiago, a 165-pound senior, who was ranked third before winning three out of four bouts, and finished second; Chuck Zeisloft, a 133-pound junior, who was unseeded and then won four out of five bouts for a third-place finish; and Conor Brennan, a 174-pound sophomore, who was seeded sixth and won four of six matches for a fifth-place finish.
Zeisloft felt that his strong showing was long overdue.
“I was very determined as I started off the season very slow,” he said. “I knew I needed to pick it up for the Keystone and the rest of the year.”
Bloomsburg University finished first with 117 points, 25 more than the Broncs.
Prior to the Keystone Classic, Rider faced off with Lock Haven in Alumni Gym on Nov. 22. The result was a 23-12 victory for the Broncs.
McNeil said that the team came together and wrestled well, competing in some tough back-and-forth competition.
“The game plan was to wrestle smart and get bonus points in matches if at all possible,” he said. “With a tough team like Lock Haven, any amount of bonus points you can get in a match for the team is huge. It was also important to keep pressing our opponents and wear them down so it was easier to score points in our matches.”
Rider scored its points with victories from a Deutsch pinfall, decision victories by Zeisloft, Santiago, McNeil, and Greg Velasco, a 285-pound sophomore, and a major decision victory from Brennan.
The next stop for the Broncs is a trip to Binghamton University, where they will take on the Bearcats (1-3).
McNeil said the strategy will be business as usual.
“Binghamton is a tough team,” he said. “We just have to wear on them and break them down. We also need to get bonus points for the team whenever possible, just like we did in the Lock Haven match. It will take a good team effort to come out on top.”