Rider jousts with Scarlet Knights

By Tom Albano

The wrestling team (3-0) is gearing up for one of its biggest weekends, as it prepares for a match on the road against nationally ranked Rutgers on Saturday at 5 p.m.

On Wednesday, a number of key athletes brought the Broncs to a 32-11 home victory over Princeton.  Key contributors to this result included the eight winners 141-pound redshirt sophomore Vinny Fava, 149-pound freshman Curt Delia, 157-pound redshirt senior Zac Cibula, 165-pound redshirt junior Ramon Santiago, 174-pound redshirt junior James Brundage, 197-pound sophomore Donald McNeil, 285 pound redshirt freshman Greg Velasco and 133-pound sophomore Jimmy Morris.

“McNeil and Morris both pinned their opponents, which gave the team three extra bonus points per win,” Brundage said. “Also, Curt Delia won by major decision, which gave us one additional bonus point as well.”

Santiago went into his matches against freshman Judd Ziegler of Princeton, who is ranked 15th in the nation in his weight class, according to Amateur Wrestling News.

Fava, Cibula,Velasco, Brundage and Santiago gave the Broncs its first five victories of the match and an early 17-0 lead.

The Broncs left their match with a victory and a sense of team spirit.

“To me, no one really stood out,” McNeil said. “It was just a great team effort by everyone. Everyone wrestled tough and put the pressure on their opponents without letting up.”

The team has been happy with its success so far, and part of it comes from the team’s many assets.

“Our strengths on the mat were our toughness and shape,” Brundage said. “Everyone went out there with the intent to beat Princeton physically and mentally, and our conditioning and attitude showed when we took the mat. There was not one match where any of our guys looked tired, and that has continued to be a strength of ours.”

Yet, as happy as the team is about its successes, it now plans to focus on the match against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are nationally ranked and recently fell out the Top 25, according to the official NCAA website.

“I believe they dropped a little to 31st in the country now,” Brundage said. “But it is a great opportunity to put Rider wrestling on the map and get national recognition as a team.”

McNeil contended that the Broncs strengths and focus must be in place in this weekends match.

“They are a tough team up and down their lineup,” he said. “It will take a team effort and each person on our team to perform to the best of their ability. We are confident we can beat Rutgers, but we know it will not be an easy task. We have been training hard and preparing since September for an opportunity like this to wrestle and beat a nationally ranked team.”

Printed in the 12-7-12 edition

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