By Kim Leder
After squeaking by Army on the road and competing in the Binghamton Open, the wrestling team returns to Rider for its first home match against its neighbor, Princeton, and 43rd-ranked Wisconsin.
“Our team is capable of being a conference contender,” redshirt freshman Donald McNeil said. “We just need to work on scoring bonus points when we can and not giving up points for bad reasons. Our team is solid all the way through and I believe we are a powerful dual meet team that can turn some heads on the national scale.”
Head Coach Gary Taylor’s crew will look to turn heads today when it hosts Princeton and Wisconsin, but Taylor understands that his team is still progressing.
“The team is still young,” he said. “[They’re] learning, growing and getting better but still young and therefore, not as consistent as they hopefully one day will be.”
Although Army defeated Iowa State, who is ranked 23rd in the country, Rider stopped the Black Knights’ winning streak with a close 16-15 win.
“[We] won thanks to a great team effort from everyone wrestling smart,” McNeil said.
The Broncs will take on Wisconsin and Princeton in hopes of adding a few more victories to the win column.
“We need to fix our own individual problems in order to take this team where it is destined to go,” junior Brandon Lintner said. “Our strengths going into this weekend are our conditioning and the way we wrestle, not giving up points and scoring through the opportunities that we create.”
Taylor is excited about having a powerhouse school come and compete at Rider.
“We are excited to have one of the premier Big Ten teams come to Rider,” he said. “Wisconsin is constantly one of the best in the Big Ten and also has been in the top five to 10 teams in the nation for the past several years.”
Wisconsin welcomes back 10 letter winners and nine newcomers to its team this year. In addition, they have five returning starters including two NCAA qualifiers from last season.
Although the Badgers will be without three of their 2011 All-American recipients because of Olympic redshirt seasons, returning are two 2011 All- American qualifiers, juniors Cole Schmitt and Ben Jordan.
Lintner and the Broncs are ready for the opportunity to take on such a dominating team.
“I feel like Wisconsin will be a good match for us to see where we stand as a team overall,” Lintner said. “I know that they are a tough team and are nationally ranked, so we have to be ready to wrestle.”
The Broncs are just as focused on picking up a victory over the Tigers as the Badgers. Princeton had six wrestlers finish in the top six of their respective weight classes at the Binghamton Open.
“Princeton is an important match for us where we can turn around some of the individual losses that we had at Binghamton,” Lintner said. “They are close by so it would be nice to get a win against them.”