Rider clinches upset over No. 6 Minnesota

By Mike Ricchione 

Redshirt senior Ryan Cloud was working for a last-second takedown of Minnesota Golden Gophers redshirt senior Bobby Steveson in the wrestling team’s match, but ran out of time.

Luckily for Cloud, he was up 1-0 and had sealed the deal for Rider as the Broncs left Minnesota University’s Williams Arena with an early candidate for upset of the year, defeating the No. 6 ranked school in the nation.

The moment was surreal for Cloud. 

“It took me a second to realize it at first, but once I looked back at my team and coaches, I realized what we’d just done. I’ve never seen my team more alive. I walked over to [Head Coach John] Hangey and got a big hug. He doesn’t give those too often so it was obviously a special moment for him too.”

Redshirt junior Jonathan Tropea nearly had a major decision to start things out at the 125 lb weight class, but an escape at the buzzer by Minnesota’s Patrick McKee cut the lead to seven which allowed the Golden Gophers to limit the damage from four points to three.

The Broncs went up, 6-0, with Redshirt freshman Chris Wright’s decision at the 133 lb weight class. The bout ended, 6-5, after a confusing post-match sequence.

Late in the third period,  Jones had Wright on his back momentarily. The official only had a one-count. Minnesota challenged the call thinking that Wright was on his back for longer.

For near-fall points to be awarded, a wrestler must be on his back for a minimum of two seconds. After review, the call stood and Wright officially had the decision.

Minnesota’s Mitch McKee only needed 40 seconds to tie the dual at six when he pinned redshirt sophomore Herb Edwards.

The Golden Gophers and the Broncs traded decisions in the 149 and 157 lb weight classes respectively as they headed into the intermission tied at nine. Redshirt senior Jesse Dellavecchia got the decision, 3-2, over Carson Brolsma who also cut down from 165 lbs.

Redshirt senior Dean Sherry led the Broncs out of the intermission with a big upset of his own. Sherry cradled All-American Devin Skatzka, ranked No. 6 by The Open Mat and InterMat at 174 lbs, for a first-period pin.

“During my match I had a game plan to tire him out, being heavy on his [Skatzka’s] head and the opportunity for the cradle kept coming to me,” Sherry said. “All week, I’ve been working on the setup to the cradle and it benefitted in the match.”

Minnesota got major decisions from Bailee O’Reilly and Owen Webster at the 165 and 184 lb weight classes respectively. Webster’s 11-3 victory put Minnesota up 17-15 before junior Ethan Laird, ranked No. 12 by The Open Mat, won by decision, 11-4, over Dylan Anderson and took the lead for good.

“A lot of things have to go right to beat a nationally-ranked Big Ten team, especially in their place,” Hangey said after the Minnesota dual. “Our kids wrestled very well tonight. I’m very proud of them and their effort.”

On Nov. 17, the Broncs traveled to Dekalb, Illinois, for their first-ever Mid American Conference (MAC) dual against Northern Illinois University (NIU).

Tropea won another decision over the Huskies’ Bryce West, 9-8. Wright and redshirt sophomore Rob Cleary, wrestling at 141 lbs, earned major decisions to put Rider up 11-0. 

Rider was not done upsetting opponents after Minnesota. Redshirt sophomore George Walton won a 7-6 decision over Northern Illinois’ Brit Wilson, ranked No. 13 by The Open Mat, at 184 lbs. 

“Coming off our win versus Minnesota Friday, to travel five hours to NIU and compete the way they did, I’m very happy with their performance.” Hangey said.

Cloud’s family was in Dekalb as they watched him defeat NIU’s Max Ihry via decision, 8-3.

“Having my family come and watch me wrestle was awesome,” said Cloud. “Living on the west side of Ohio, they have to watch a lot of my matches online. With that being said, I don’t get to see them in person as much as I’d like. Having them there calmed my nerves and really hyped me up.”

After its win over NIU, Rider received national ranking from the National College Wrestling Association (NCWA). The Broncs were ranked 20th on the NCWA poll on Nov. 19. The last time Rider was nationally ranked was on Jan. 30, 2018, when it was ranked 21st by the NCWA poll.

Rider had five of its wrestlers nationally ranked by multiple sources. 

As of Nov. 19, Jesse Dellavechia was ranked fourth in the 157 lb weight class by FloWrestling, Dean Sherry was ranked 10th at the 174 lb weight class by TrackWrestling, Ethan Laird was ranked 13th by The Open Mat, Jonathan Tropea was ranked 16th by TrackWrestling and George Walton was ranked 19th at 184 lbs by Amateur Wrestling News.

The Broncs will have a week-long break between competitions as they will wrestle in the Keystone Classic at the University of Pennsylvania on Nov. 24.

Follow Michael Ricchione on Twitter for the latest on Rider wrestling.

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