By Olivia Nicoletti
In the third grade, Alec Bobchin brought home a flyer about recreational clubs. His father, a former wrestler at Howell High School, was very excited to hear that his son was interested in the sport.
“My dad was always my biggest supporter. He’s been there from the start until now. He’s been to every single match and every practice; he’s never missed a second,” the sophomore business major, who is on Rider’s wrestling team, said. “He drove me all over the state and the country to wrestle and visit new clubs or wrestle in tournaments.”
Along with his father, Bobchin described his middle school coach, Jeff Moretti, as a huge inspiration. They traveled to many tournaments together and he taught Bobchin how to get tougher in his wrestling.
“Alec improved in wrestling by being open minded in his learning from a number of coaches and accepting critiques and learning from them. As a person he has been receptive and respectful and has taken time to help others,” Moretti said. “I am most proud of not the matches and accolades he has accomplished, even though it’s impressive. What makes me proud is even though, when he was young and there had been a decent amount of people better than him, he continued to work hard, catch those better than him, and then continued to work harder to pass those other athletes.”
Bobchin chose to attend Rider because it has felt like a home to him since he was in sixth grade. He has been training with the Rider’s assistant coach, Nic Bedelyon, for many years. Bobchin needed a small classroom environment and for teachers to know who he was so they could help him academically.
“It’s a small community with lots of friendly faces and it’s pretty easy to get to know everybody here,” Bobchin said.
As for wrestling, he believes his experience so far has been able to strengthen his mental toughness and drive to work harder. When being introduced to a team as a freshman, the atmosphere is much different than in high school. Head Coach John Hangey said newcomers have to learn respect for upperclassmen who have wrestled for longer and get used to not being the best on the team. Bobchin was able to adapt quickly to his new role.
“The jump from high school to college was definitely big. I had to learn how to hand fight a little bit better and how to move my feet,” Bobchin said. “I had to improve on a lot of new positions that I wasn’t used to wrestling in. Honestly, you come into the practice room in college and everyone’s just a hard-nosed kid in your face trying to beat you up. It’s a big adjustment to get used to.”
The transition was made easier because Bobchin already had experience with Hangey from when he was a part of the Bronc Wrestling Club in middle school. They practiced in the Rider gymnasium and he became familiar with the coaches.
“When he became a part of the team in college he experienced a learning curve, much like everyone else does. The first month is always challenging, learning to adapt to the new standards,” Hangey said. “Alec took it very well and he will still be continuing to adapt as he ranges higher. Alec’s personality is what makes him stand out. He is always joking around but I love that he can also be serious when need be.”
Bobchin credited Hangey for being in his corner since arriving in Lawrenceville.
“Coach Hangey is definitely someone that is there for me when I’m in bad spots. If I need somebody to pick me up, he will be the one to push me to be the best that I can be,” Bobchin said. “He definitely goes out of his way to make sure that everybody in the practice room is doing what they’re supposed to do and working hard.”
Wrestling alongside Bobchin, sophomore Evan Vazquez describes Bobchin to be trustworthy and loyal. He is always the one to pick up the slack where it is needed. If Vazquez ever needed someone in his corner, he said Bobchin would be the first to support him.
“As a wrestler, he was always there for everyone, even though he struggled himself his freshman year,” Vazquez said. “He would always, always be there on the mat when someone else lost or someone else got a tough match. He would be there helping them gain confidence back for their next match or future tournament.”
Though the team has an individual goal to be a national champion, it continues to push each other to be the best.
Bobchin was getting represented for his accomplishments as a wrestler before Rider. His biggest accolade so far was finishing fourth in the state his senior year. He was also nominated in the Mount Rushmore project, a competition to determine the best athletes in Princeton High School’s history, led by NJ.com.
“It felt pretty good being nominated as one of the best and it’s definitely something I can look back on and feel pretty accomplished about,” said Bobchin.
“I have big goals I am trying to reach as a wrestler and a student at Rider,” Bobchin said. “I know my coaches, family and teammates will continue to help me reach those goals.”