By Michael Mack
With four wrestlers qualified for nationals, one of whom earned All-American honors, the Rider wrestling team placed third of eight teams at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships held on March 6 and 7.
Junior Ed Bordas won the heavyweight tournament, while seniors Doug Umbehauer and Jason Lapham and junior Mike Kessler all placed second in their respective tournaments.
“I felt good about the team’s conference performance,” said Head Coach Gary Taylor. “I’m proud of how each individual competed and tried as hard as they could to win.”
While Bordas was the only Bronc to win his weight class, the biggest win for Rider may have come from Lapham. The senior won his third place match, and then found himself in a match with Ryan Patrovich of Hofstra for the title of “True Second.” Patrovich had beaten Lapham twice already, but this time Lapham pulled the upset.
“I think everyone was happy for Lapham,” Taylor said. “Jason is a senior and he beat one of the best kids in the country in the match to qualify for nationals.”
Rider’s success was also helped by a third place finish by freshman Jimmy Kirchner and a fifth place finish by junior Mike Miller. Bordas, Umbehauer, Lapham and Kessler all qualified for nationals.
The Broncs’ success carried over into nationals. Umbehauer won five matches and placed third in his weight class, earning All-American honors and finishing the season with a record of 24-5. In order to earn this honor, one has to place in the top eight in a tournament of the 33 best wrestlers from all over the country.
This was by no means an easy task, but Umbehauer was able to fight his way through. Umbehauer defeated the second seed in the tournament to guarantee himself at least sixth place, thus locking up the All-American honor. From there he won two more matches after losing to last year’s national champion, placing him third in the tournament.
Umbehauer’s success motivated the team members and made them believe in themselves.
“It gives a lot of hope to the other student athletes in the program that they too can one day be an All-American from Rider University,” Taylor said.
Umbehauer became the 13th All-American produced by Rider, and the eigth in only 12 years. Umbehauer’s accomplishment will not only help the current members of the team, but also with recruiting.
“High school athletes follow the NCAA tournament,” Taylor said. “They know which schools produce All-Americans and which ones don’t.”
Taylor also went on to credit Assistant Coach John Hangey with preparing Umbehaurer for what he was up against.
“Coach Hangey worked hard getting Umbehauer ready for his last chance to be an All-American,” he said.
Lapham and Kessler both went 1-2 in the tournament, while Bordas lost two hard fought matches. Lapham finished the season with a 27-13 record, Kessler finished 26-13 and Bordas finished 26-9.
“I am proud of all four of our student athletes and the way they represented Rider University at the NCAA National Championships,” Taylor said.