By J.J. Santagata
The wrestling team was close but unsuccessful in defending its Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) championship, finishing second in the conference tournament.
With that second-place finish, the Broncs had three wrestlers — juniors B.J. Clagon and Chad Walsh, and senior Ryan Wolfe — win individual titles, securing them a spot in the NCAA Championships from March 16-18. Rider also had two wrestlers earn fourth-place finishes and four earn third-place finishes.
Finishing in third for Rider were senior Anthony Cefolo, sophomore Dean Sherry, junior Michale Fagg-Daves, who, on March 7, received an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships, and redshirt junior Mauro Correnti. Redshirt junior J.R. Wert and freshman Evan Fidelibus finished fourth.
Clagon said winning the EWL was just another step on his quest to winning a national championship.
“I’m focused on the big picture and that’s the national champ,” Clagon said. “I haven’t reached my goal for this year. I am happy, but there’s always room for improvement. It’s just showing where I need to be, it helps my confidence for sure but I’m not satisfied yet.”
Clagon was the-top seeded 157-pound wrestler in the tournament, earning a bye going into the semifinals. Clagon won by major decision, 12-0, over Edinboro’s Chase Delande, and won his second EWL title with a 9-1 win in the finals.
Walsh won 10-1 over Lock Haven’s Jared Siegrist in his first match of the tournament. His dominant performance in the semifinals set Walsh up for a chance at redemption against Edinboro’s Austin Matthews. Walsh defeated Matthews 9-5, securing a top spot in the conference for the second time.
In his first match after his round-one bye, Wolfe faced the fourth-seeded Dylan Reynolds, winning on a technical fall 22-7. The victory placed him in a finals match against Dustin Conti of Clarion University. His 9-2 victory in the finals helped secure Wolfe’s third EWL title.
After winning his third conference title, Wolfe said he was thankful to be wrestling for Rider.
“It was important, because I go on to nationals but also winning my third conference championship is something I’ll never forget,” Wolfe said. “It’s an awesome feeling and I’m glad I did it with Rider.”
Chad Walsh will be making his second NCAA Championship appearance in back-to-back years. Last year, Walsh finished fifth. As Wolfe will look to finish off his career at Rider on a high note, he aims to secure a spot among the best in the country, with his second NCAA appearance.
Fagg-Daves was the second-seeded wrestler at 184 pounds in the conference championship. The high seeding awarded him a bye through the first round and set up a semifinal matchup against Nick Corba of Cleveland State.
Fagg-Daves lost 4-1 to Corba, taking out any opportunity for him to win a conference title. He defeated Corey Hazel of Lock Haven with a 7-3 decision. He would then defeat Scott Marmoll of Clarion, 7-4, to take third place.
Third-seeded 133-pound wrestler Anthony Cefolo started the day off strong with a fall in 4:41 over Andrew Coghill of Cleveland State. Cefolo would lose by fall in the semifinals, with D.J. Fehlman defeating him in 5:27.
In the consolations, Cefolo defeated Roshaun Cooley of Clarion, 4-3, in the first tiebreaker to set up a third-place match against Matt Noble of Bloomsburg. Cefolo would defeat Noble by an 11-2 major decision to take third place.
Sherry started the tournament very well with a 15-6 major decision over Trevor Allard from Bloomsburg, but lost 8-6 in the semifinals against Ty Schoffstall, who was the top-seeded wrestler at 174 pounds. He finished the tournament with two wins over Ryan Forrest of George Mason and Dominic Rigous of Clarion to finish in third place.
Aside from the three Broncs who have already qualified for the NCAA Championships by winning the EWL, Fagg-Daves received the at-large selection thanks to his performance throughout the season. Fagg-Daves finished the regular season with a 19-13 record.
The Broncs will have an opportunity to have a wrestler earn All-American status for the third straight year. Clagon earned All-American honors as a freshman in 2015 and Walsh did it as a sophomore in 2016.