By Matt Burrill
Rider wrestling improved its record to 13-6 on the season, after defeating longtime rival Hofstra, 22-18 on Feb. 9. This was the 41st meeting between Hofstra (6-7, 3-2 EIWA) and Rider (13-6, 4-1 EWL) but the first as non-conference opponents.
Rider has not beaten Hofstra since the 2009-10 season. In addition, the Pride have been victorious in 13 of the last 15 meetings with the Broncs.
“This has been a rivalry since the day I got here,” Head Coach Gary Taylor said.
The program honored its two graduating seniors: 174-pound graduate student Jim Resnick and 165-pound redshirt senior Ramon Santiago. With Resnick sidelined because of an injury, Santiago would be the lone senior to carry the flag on Senior Day. Santiago picked up a 6-1 victory at a crucial point in the dual.
After getting off to a strong 12-0 start in the first three bouts, Rider fell in the next three, tieing the score at 12-12 when Santiago took to the mat.
“It meant a lot to me, this was my last match here,” Santiago said.
In a season where Santiago held a top-15 ranking in his weight class, but finished with a 15-12 overall record, Santiago was able to end his career at Alumni Gym on a high note, defeating a Hofstra wrestler who was a three-time NCAA qualifier.
“This has been a very long year,” Santiago said. “I knew I had a chance to turn my season around against a ranked opponent tonight.”
Taylor was pleased with Santiago’s final bout at home.
“For Ramon to come back and wrestle that way tonight was great,” Taylor said. “That’s the Ramon we know.”
Santiago was one of six Broncs to earn a victory on Feb. 9; 125-pound redshirt sophomore Robert Deutsch, 133-pound redshirt junior Chuck Zeisloft, 174-pound redshirt sophomore Connor Brennan, 184-pound redshirt junior Clint Morrison, and 285-pound redshirt sophomore Greg Velasco also picked up wins.
Deutsch’s victory helped him to be named the EWL Wrestler of the Week. He is currently ranked 12th in the nation at his weight class.
Brennan claimed his 10th victory in a row and improved his overall record to 21-7 on the year.
Rider came into the matchup licking its wounds after a 19-20 defeat on the road against Drexel. Taylor knew that the team needed a better mindset; and after having what he called, “the most productive meeting in years,” the team came out strong.
“We were disappointed with the other night,” Taylor said. “We sat down as a team and really re-looked at everything. They responded tonight.”
With two duals left until the EWL tournament, the Broncs know that each match will be crucial down the stretch. The team will be taking a trip out to Cleveland State (1-10, 0-4 EWL) on Feb. 15 for its final EWL dual, then will head back home to take on Princeton (8-2, 2-1 IVY) on Feb. 21.
Santiago hopes to finish the season strong in his final competitions as a Bronc.
“I want to go out and dominate as a team,” he said.