By David Pavlak
While we have all been enjoying our winter break, Rider athletics has continued to roll forward into the New Year. Men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling and track and field have been busy competing even after the students have all gone home to enjoy the month long break. Here is an update from all the sports since we left.
Men’s Basketball: The men’s basketball team has competed five times since winter break began, taking on Monmouth (3-13), Stony Brook (7-6), Manhattan (9-7), Marist (7-8) and Saint Peter’s (3-13).
In their battle against Monmouth, the Broncs (5-11) won 74-62. Senior Brandon Penn stole the show on the road against Monmouth, tying his career high with 26 points. He also recorded 15 rebounds, which is the most he has ever achieved. Sophomore Danny Stewart also had a strong game for the Broncs against Monmouth, dropping 17 points. The big rebounding performance from Penn was one of the biggest reasons Rider was finally able to outrebound its opponent, beating them on the glass 38-34. Penn’s all around performance has earned him Rider’s Athlete
of the Month recognition.
The Broncs next had to focus their attention on a strong Stony Brook team. Unfortunately, the Broncs fell flat at crucial times, and Stony Brook was able to walk away with a 79-62 win. The Broncs had four players who scored in double digits; however, it was not enough to overcome the strong offense of Stony Brook. Senior Jeff Jones scored 17 points, including five three-pointers to lead all Broncs in scoring. Stewart finished with 11 points, while Penn and senior Novar Gadson finished with 10 each.
The only way to respond to the 17-point defeat was to come out even stronger in the next game. The Broncs took out their frustrations on their MAAC counterpart, Manhattan, winning by a score of 88-77. Gadson put together a strong line, finishing with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. Gadson, who is now finally recovered from his off-season injuries, led all scorers in this game.
A few days later, the Broncs finally returned back to Alumni Gym to take on Marist, their second MAAC opponent in the week. Rider started hot against the Red Foxes and never looked back, winning 99-86. Penn had another big day for the Broncs, as he finished the game with 24 points. He went 6-10 from behind the arc, and shot 9-16 from the field. Gadson finished a close second in points with 19. Freshman Anthony Myles and Stewart also finished with 14 points. The Broncs have seen a nice turnaround right around before the holidays, with Head Coach Tommy Dempsey’s team finding consistency on the hardwood.
Most recently, the Broncs defeated Saint Peter’s this afternoon by a score of 72-58. Penn led the team once again with 20 points, shooting 7-9 from the floor and 4-5 from behind the arc. The Broncs are now 3-2 in the MAAC.
They will take on their next MAAC opponent on Jan 12 when they face off against Siena.
Women’s Basketball: The women’s basketball team by their own right has also been very busy, taking on Mount St. Mary’s (6-8), Manhattan (8-7), Niagara (4-11) and Marist (8-6). In these four games, the women have gone 2-2 and now currently sit at 9-5 overall and 1-2 in the MAAC.
Against Mount St. Mary’s, junior Sironda Chambers showed her worth on the hardwood again, finishing the game with 15 points, leading the Broncs to a 53-44 victory. Senior Alyssa Parsons also helped the Broncs to victory by scoring nine points, including two three-pointers. Parsons also dished out four assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Only a few days later, the Broncs took on and lost to MAAC opponent Manhattan, 59-45. The loss snapped the Broncs’ five-game winning streak. Junior Caitlin Bopp was the top scorer for the Broncs, finishing with 11 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Emily Fazzini also contributed with 10 points.
Like the men, the women knew that the best way to respond to a loss would be to come out with an even stronger performance the next night. Their opponent would be Niagara, and the Broncs would walk away with a 60-53 win. Sophomore MyNeshia McKenzie finished the game with 11 points and 14 rebounds. McKenzie’s performance on the court gained her the same recognition as Penn, as she was named Rider’s female Athlete of the Month.
Junior Carleigh Brown added 11 points in 18 minutes for the Broncs during their victory, while Bopp scored 10. The Broncs made their free throws count, shooting 27-35 from the charity stripe as a team.
Unfortunately, the good feeling from their win would be short lived. Just three days after their victory over Niagara, the Broncs ran into a red-hot Marist team that convincingly defeated the Broncs, 82-56.
A double-double by McKenzie and 18 points and nine boards from Bopp were not enough to help spark the Broncs to a victory over Marist, who currently sits in a tie for first with Fairfield. Chambers also finished the game in double digits with 11 points.
The Broncs’ next opponent will be Loyola (MD) on Jan 9.
Wrestling: The Broncs opened rung in the New Year with news of their national ranking. A new mid-major ranking system was implemented at the beginning of this season, and the Broncs found themselves a part of the lucky few to be included. The Broncs currently sit 14th in the rankings.
The Broncs found themselves at one of the most highly touted competition days on the 29th and 30th of December. The tournament, the 49th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships, hosted by Northwestern, hosts some of the top talent in the nation. The Broncs put on a strong showing against the highly skilled competition.
Junior Brandon Lintner finished 3-2 in all his matches. Sophomores Chuck Zeisloft and Ramon Santiago both finished the tournament at 2-2.
Junior Zac Cibula, who was the 11th ranked wrestler in the 149-pound, finished 1-1. He withdrew from the competition after sustaining an injury.
Sophomore James Brundage, as well as freshmen Clint Morrison and Jimmy Morris all ended the tournament with a record of 1-2.
Both freshman Donald McNeil and Jimmy Kirchner ended the tournament winless, going 0-2 against their opponents.
After the Midlands Championship, the Broncs had to prepare to faceoff against three different Ivy League opponents: Harvard, Brown and Pennsylvania.
The Broncs dropped the match against Harvard (3-1), 22-15 before coming back and defeating Brown (2-2), 30-10. Two days later, the Broncs would take on and lose to Pennsylvania (4-3), 22-9.
In the loss against Harvard, Zeisloft, Kirchner, Brundage and junior Jim Resnick secured victories. Resnick is ranked 13th in the nation by
The Broncs avenged the loss to Harvard with a victory against Brown. Freshmen Jimmy Morris and Donald McNeil, sophomore Evan Craig, Kirchner, Santiago, Brundage and Resnick all compiled victories in the win.
Against Penn, the Broncs were out-wrestled from start to finish. Zeisloft, Santiago and Resnick were the only Broncs that were able to secure
victories. Penn has three wrestlers in the top-20 of their respective weight classes.
The Broncs will compete next at the 32nd Annual Virginia Duals which take place on the 13th and 14th of January in Hampton, Va.
Track and Field: The men’s and women’s track and field team have only competed in one meet since school went on break. The competition would be held at University Park on the campus of Penn State. Junior Megan Elgin had the best day for the Broncs as she won the mile in record time, 5:06.99
The Broncs had the top four finishers in the mile as trailing Elgin was freshman Emily Ritter who finished second, junior Jillian Shutt who
finished third and junior Erin Fitzgibbons who finished fourth.
The men’s 4×800 team also competed well, finishing second with a time of 7:45.19, an IC4A qualifying time.
Freshman George Solujich also recorded an IC4A qualifier in the shot put with a throwing distance of 51’3.75”. That distance was good for
fourth place in the Penn Relays.
In the final standings, the Broncs had their names all over the score sheet with finishes ranging from first to 17th.
The track and field team will compete again on Jan. 14 at Army.