By Christopher Brooks
The Broncs wrapped up their final meet of the season on Feb. 21, just a couple of minutes up the road against Princeton (11-4, 3-2 IVY), where they picked up a 21-15 victory.
Rider (14-8, 4-2 EWL) started out strong with another win from 125-pound sophomore Robert Deutsch, who won by fall, improving his overall season record to 27-4 and giving the Broncs a 6-0 lead. He is currently ranked 7th in the country at his weight class.
Chuck Zeisloft, a 133-pound redshirt junior, extended the lead to 9-0 after winning a 3-2 decision over Princeton senior Garrett Frey. Zeisloft, who is ranked 27th in the nation at 133 pounds, admits to feeling stress when it comes to preserving his rank.
“Sometimes I feel a little pressure if I get ranked because I try to wrestle to defend it, rather than just going out and wrestling normally,” he said.
Paul Kirchner, a 141-pound redshirt freshman, continued the domination, increasing the Bronc lead to 12-0 after an overtime victory against Princeton freshman Jordan Laster.
The Tigers fought back, winning the next two contests. Princeton junior Adam Krop defeated 149-pound sophomore Curt Delia, and Princeton sophomore Kevin Moylan picked up a win over freshman Wayne Stinson in the 157-pound bout, cutting the lead to 12-6.
After failing to win the previous two bouts, 165-pound senior Ramon Santiago, who is ranked 32nd in his weight class, got the Broncs back on track by winning his bout, 5-3. Connor Brennan, a 174-pound sophomore, was also victorious, picking up his 12th consecutive win, defending his national rank of 16th in his weight class.
Clint Morrison, a 184-pound junior, bolstered the Bronc lead to 21-6 after defeating Tiger freshman Brett Harner. Morrison is currently ranked 19th in the country at his weight class.
Morrison was pleased with the team’s performance after its disappointing loss to Cleveland State, 23-24, on Feb. 15.
“I think a lot of our guys got their fight back in our last meet,” Morrison said. “Having a couple guys competing a little off their game recently showed that fixing their training can turn them around and wrestle confidently. Everyone wrestled hard and showed the fight that we work hard to consistently have every time we step on the mat.”
Donald McNeil, a 197-pound redshirt junior, and 285-pound redshirt sophomore Greg Velasco both lost their bouts via injury default and decision, respectively, but Rider still walked away with the victory.
Rider will now set its sights on the EWL Championships in Cleveland, which will take place on Mar. 8. This will be the Broncs’ first EWL Championships appearance after leaving the CAA at the end of last season.
The Broncs hold a 4-2 record in the conference, picking up victories over Lock Haven, Clarion, George Mason and Bloomsburg. At the time of Rider’s victory over the Huskies, Bloomsburg was ranked 22nd in the nation. On the other hand, Rider has lost to Edinboro, who was ranked 15th while the Broncs were ranked 25th, and to Cleveland State, who had only one victory prior to facing Rider.
Morrison expects quality bouts from his EWL counterparts.
“I will have two tough guys that will be both good wins for me on my way to winning conferences,” he said. “I haven’t wrestled the Edinboro guy yet, but I lost a close match to the lock haven wrestler who I will meet in the semi finals of EWL’s.”
Zeisloft looks forward to competing against some of the best wrestlers in the conference, and hopes to bring home a championship for the team in its inaugural EWL season.
“Every kid in my conference is tough,” he said. “I will need to prepare well and put together a good tournament to make sure I secure a spot for nationals.”