Four Broncs earned the right to travel to St. Louis last weekend for a chance to earn All-American honors and a national title at this year’s NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Seniors TJ Morrison, Don Fisch and Doug Umbehauer and junior Ed Bordas were all selected based on their performances during the regular season to compete for these honors. Morrison and Fisch each made their fourth NCAA appearances, while Umbehauer made his third and Bordas his first.
“In wrestling, each conference has a different number of qualifiers, this year it was 23,” said Umbehauer. “There’s 10 weight classes so the first and second guy from the conference in each weight class go to NCAAs. Then the conference also votes on three wildcards that can come from any weight class.”
Head Coach Gary Taylor puts into perspective just how difficult it was for these athletes to reach this plateau.
“These four guys have been through the toughest schedule this year of any Rider wrestlers ever, so whatever happens, they are ready to battle the toughest competition in the nation,” Taylor said. “Our goal is the same as always; to compete hard and come home with All-Americans.”
Fisch earned a first round bye before being pinned by Kurt Kinser of Indiana. In the consolations, Fisch lost 6-2 to Kyle Fried of Binghamton. Fisch finished up his senior year 22-11, ending his Rider career with a record of 110-36.
Morrison, who entered the tournament seeded 11th in the 197-pound weight class, defeated Ben Hepburn of Lock Haven 5-2 in the Third Round consolations before losing 4-0 to the third seed, Mike Tamillow of Northwestern. Morrison ended his season 23-9 and finished his career 106-43.
Bordas, a wildcard selection who entered the tournament unseeded, lost 3-1 in the first round to Nate Everhart of Indiana on a last second takedown. In the Second Round consolations, Bordas lost 10-2 to Reece Hopkin of Northern Colorado.
On Thursday, Umbehauer, who was also a wildcard selection, defeated 5th seed Joshua Weitzel of Oklahoma, 9-4 in the first round. The two-time CAA Champion then took out 12th seeded Jack Jensen of Oklahoma State 3-2 in the second round before falling to fourth seed Christian Sinnott of Central Michigan, and third seed Tyrel Todd of Michigan on Friday.
“He wrestled as hard as he could, but unfortunately he got beat by the third and fourth seeds,” said Taylor. “I’m very proud of how the kids competed.”
As a team, the Broncs finished 8-12 overall, 5-3 in the conference and finished third in the CAA tournament.