By Trey Wright
Coming off of two losses from national powerhouses, there was a redemption arc on March 4 and 5 for the Rider wrestling program, which sought to do well in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship in Columbus, Ohio.
The Broncs found success with redshirt sophomore Quinn Kinner and redshirt junior Richie Koehler, who were able to win the titles of their respective weight classes.
“Having two MAC Champs is great for Richie, Quinn and the program,” said Head Coach John Hangey. “They both prepared well this week and believed in themselves during the tournament.”
The first day of action at the Convocation Center at Ohio University saw plenty from the Broncs, with five individual Rider wrestlers still competing in the MAC championship at the end of the day, and Kinner securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament in Detroit, Michigan, but still on the hunt for the 141 championships.
Koehler, sophomore Cole McComas, redshirt junior Joe Casey and freshman David Szuba were still competing for bids to nationals at the end of day one, and the latter three would be on the podium at the end of the tournament.
The second day saw success for Rider, with Koehler besting University of Buffalo’s Derek Spann at 133-pounds topunch his ticket to the national tournament, the second Bronc to do so after Rider alumnus Jesse Dellavecchia earned the 157-pound title in 2020 and 2021.
“It feels great to win a MAC title this year after having to wait another year to get another opportunity to get what I’ve trained for,” said Koehler. “As a team, it feels great to bring this one back for our program and to show everyone Rider Wrestling is still here and isn’t going anywhere.”
Kinner won the 141-pound belt by defeating Bloomsburg University’s Josh Mason in a 4-1 decision and advanced himself to Detroit.
“Richie had to wait a year to get a second chance at winning a MAC title and Quinn pulled it off in his first try, I’m so happy for both of them,” said Hangey. “Winning a conference championship takes discipline, sacrifice and dedication amongst all the little things, and both Richie and Quinn did all those things.”
Casey, Szuba, and McComas finished in fifth, sixth and eighth place respectively, and the Broncs placed in eighth overall out of the 13 competing teams.
“We are obviously disappointed with where we finished as a team,’ said Hangey. “Our guys wrestled hard throughout the tournament and we will work to drastically improve on that next year.”
“It takes a village to succeed as we always joke about, but it couldn’t be more true,” said Koehler.
Rider wrestling returns to action on March 17, when Koehler and Kinner travel to compete in the NCAA Tournament in Detroit.