By Shaun Chornobroff
The Rider wrestling team has made a habit of taking down bigger and often more prestigious programs. In February of 2021, the Broncs vaulted themselves into a top-25 ranking after defeating a ranked Lehigh team and in November of 2019, Rider upset Big 10 powerhouse No. 6 Minnesota in a victory that shocked the college wrestling community.
The Broncs broke their streak of taking down a ranked opponent in its opening match of the 2021-22 wrestling season, dropping a match against No. 21 Purdue 33-3 on Nov. 6 in front of its home crowd in Alumni Gym.
While the overall score may tell a story of Rider being outclassed and dominated by the Boilermakers, many Broncs found themselves competitive or winning in their individual bouts, but lacked the killer instinct to take home a victory.
“We have to find a way to win the close matches,” Head Coach John Hangey said in an email to The Rider News. “There are no moral victories in sports, you either win or lose so we have to do a better job finishing matches and wrestling to win instead of wrestling not to lose.”
The match opened with sophomore Tyler Klinsky faltering 4-2 against three-time NCAA qualifier Devin Schroder at 125 pounds. Schroder, a redshirt senior, came into the season ranked 12th in the nation in his weight class.
Klinsky’s ability to compete with a nationally ranked wrestler was a statement in itself, but the loss was the start of Purdue racing out to an 18-0 lead, as Boilermaker wrestlers were victorious in the first five matches.
With the Broncs down 18-0, redshirt junior Joe Casey made his return after more than a year off the mat with a 1-0 victory at 165 pounds.
“What enabled me to win was just refusing to lose after the long road I went down being hurt and having last year off. I just said to myself when I was tired ‘there is no way in hell I’m gonna lose this match, I’ve worked way too hard to get back to this point,’” said Casey in an email to The Rider News.
It was a proud moment for Casey and unfortunately for the Broncs their lone victory of the night.
Rider ensued to lose the final four bouts after Casey’s victory, with two of the Broncs falling by decision to wrestlers ranked in the top 25 of their weight class.
The match marked the return of fans to the Alumni Gym, a sight that Hangey had not seen since Feb. 22, 2020, when the Broncs defeated Maryland 22-16.
“It was great to have fans back in [Alumni Gym],” said Hangey. “I thought the atmosphere was energetic and that’s good for our guys.”
The Broncs will once again have the support of an Alumni Gym crowd on Nov. 13 when they look to get their first victory of the season in a conference matchup against Northern Illinois.