By Ben Smith
The Rider men’s wrestling team (9-7, 3-1 CAA) will host the Columbia Lions (4-3) on Saturday in Alumni Gym.
Rider has won its last three matches, all of which have come on the road. Columbia lost its last meet to number three-ranked Cornell, 30-9.
Until recently, Rider has dealt with the loss of one of its star wrestlers, junior Zac Cibula (4-2, 149 lbs.), who sat out most of the season with a nagging ankle injury. Since his return, Cibula has won two matches in a row.
Cibula and fellow junior Jim Resnick, ranked tenth in the nation according to www.themat.com, “are the team’s foundation in terms of consistency,” Head Coach Gary Taylor said.
Rider has gone without four starters in 10 weight classes for various stints this season.
“This has never happened once in my tenure as coach,” Taylor said.
Freshman Jimmy Morris gave the Broncs rock-like support in the anchor role of their road victory against Drexel Tuesday night, 18-15.
“He’s on a really nice roll,” Taylor said.
Morris strung together two wins during the CAA Duals, including a decision against a nationally-ranked Binghamton opponent.
Morris was one of only two wrestlers for Rider to win both matches at the Conference Duals late last month.
“[Jimmy] is a very composed wrestler for any age group,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of confidence in Jimmy being able to close out matches.”
Rider led Drexel 15-13 heading into the final stretch with only the 125-pound weight class yet to bout.
“We just needed Jimmy to tie and he did much more than that,” Taylor said.
Victory was at hand for Rider once sophomore Chuck Zeisloft handed Drexel its first major decision loss of the match.
Rider was deducted a point for unsportsmanlike conduct when Zeisloft swore following the match.
“Every match is important,” Taylor said. “Every match counts towards our overall record and will affect our chances at reaching the National Championship.”
Taylor knows the Broncs will have to work hard in order to defeat a tough Columbia squad.
“Columbia has a good team,” Taylor said. “We’re going to train hard.”
Rider has the reputation of playing “David and Goliath,” Taylor said, as the program has produced All-American wrestlers who don’t necessarily receive their deserved recognition from the University’s students.
After its match tomorrow against Columbia, Rider will host 24th-ranked Hofstra on Feb. 16.
The training and effort put in by this year’s wrestling squad is to replicate those past successes.
“Those goals don’t change,” Taylor said.