By Kristie Kahl
The wrestling team ended its regular season with a bang, knocking out two Collegiate Athletic Association (CAA) teams before entering the championships.
“It’s a good feeling to finish with two conference wins,” said Head Coach Gary Taylor. “It will most definitely help us with our momentum and our confidence going into the championships, and hopefully it will be more motivating. I think the wins helped us to head in the right direction.”
The Broncs defeated Boston University 23-13, winning six of their 10 bouts during the dual meet last Friday.
Freshman Jimmy Kirchner won by fall against Boston’s Ryan Buff at 133 pounds. Kirchner began his rookie season at 125 pounds, compiling five wins and three losses before gaining weight to join the 133 competition, which seems to be working for him.
Senior Doug Umbehauer is currently ranked sixth in the nation and second in the CAA in his weight class of 184 pounds. In the Broncs’ victory, he was able to win by a technical fall against junior Carmen Rondash.
Also for Rider, junior Michael Kessler, currently ranked 25th in the nation, and senior Jason Lapham, ranked 29th in the nation, both won in the conference victory.
Sophomore Fred Rogers clinched a win to give the Broncs a 9-3 lead over the Terriers. Also adding to the Rider triumph, junior Ed Bordas, ranked 31st in the nation and first in the CAA in his weight class, claimed a victory over senior Jim Connors to seal the deal for the Broncs.
The Broncs moved on to defeat conference rival Sacred Heart 27-9 in celebration of Senior Day in Rider’s last regular season meet.
“You’re always happy for your seniors,” Taylor said. “On one hand, they are graduates and moving on in their process of life, but on the other hand, you’re losing good wrestlers. It definitely is a mixed feeling. One aspect is exciting to see them finish their process, the second aspect is the fact that we’re going to miss them.”
Rider claimed seven out of 10 bouts with four major decisions and a technical fall to overtake the Pioneers.
Lapham won by a technical fall over junior Mike Hartman to tie the meet at nine. Although Lapham started his collegiate career at Penn State, he moved on to place fourth at the Midlands Tournament and went 7-1 in the CAA duals and 3-1 in the CAA tournament, placing third last season.
As this season’s team captain, Lapham clinched his weight class at the Stroudsburg Open while placing second at the Keystone Classic. He has compiled 22 victories and is 6-1 in the CAA.
Umbehauer added to the victory, winning by a major decision in his last home match.
“I was a little emotional before the match, a little choked up, and didn’t get off to a good start,” Umbehauer said to Rider Sports Information, “but it ended up finishing well.”
As a freshman, Umbehauer was an All-American and a member of the CAA All-Rookie team when he placed second at the CAA Championships. During his sophomore year, he placed second at the Midlands and won 28 matches, advancing to the NCAA Championships as a CAA Champion.
Last season, Umbehauer was a CAA Champion, winning 27 matches, including two at Nationals. This season, he placed third at the Midlands and claims a record of 17-3, including 6-1 in the conference. His current career stands at a remarkable 88-33.
Also for the Broncs, junior Mike Ward won by a major decision to give the Broncs a 13-9 lead. Kessler, junior Mike Miller and Bordas won as Rider made it a close meet. Sophomore Tim Trivisonno won for the final score in the Rider conference victory.
The Broncs move on to compete in the post season at the CAA Championship tournament, starting March 6-7 at Old Dominion.
“These championships are no different than any other,” Taylor said. “We’ve been successful in the championships before as a team and individually, so things haven’t changed. We just need to work hard mentally and physically.”