By Rocco Schirripa
The wrestling team finished strong in its conference tournament before faltering in the NCAA Championship.
Rider started out at the CAA Championship slowly, ending the first day in fifth place out of eight teams. However, the team came back out fighting the second day and finished third in a come-from-behind fashion, winning all six of its matches.
“This was a strong performance here on Saturday,” Head Coach Gary Taylor said to Rider Sports Information. “I’m very pleased with the fact that our kids wrestled hard, got after it and just fought all day long. That’s why they went six for six.”
Senior Michael Kessler qualified for the NCAAs for the fourth time, while fellow senior Ed Bordas qualified for the third time in three years at the university.
In the finals, the first and second seeds matched up as Kessler defeated freshman Don Vinson of Binghamton 8-5.
Two-time defending champion Bordas defeated the second seed in his weight class, junior Kyle Frey of Drexel, 1-0 in the finals.
In the consolation matches, sophomore Jimmy Kirchner, juniors Matt Bradley and Rob Morrison, and freshman Jim Resnick all finished third in their respective weight classes.
“They all fought,” Taylor said to Rider Sports Information. “I’m pleased with the way all of our guys fought hard in their matches. In a couple of cases, they came from behind to win it. They gave us everything they had the whole way through.”
The Broncs then went on to the NCAA Championship where they would square off with the best of the best.
Rider had a tough time competing with the wrestling brass and was eliminated in the first day, only winning one of its 13 matches.
“Just a very tough day,” Taylor said to Rider Sports Information. “It’s not that we didn’t wrestle hard. We just didn’t wrestle the way we are capable of. This is a national tournament so if you are not wrestling at your best, you are in trouble.”
The match the Broncs won was a preliminary match that sophomore Tyler Smith won over junior Dylan Temple of Appalachian State. However, after the initial win, things didn’t go as smooth for the Broncs.
Bordas and Kirchner both lost close matches in their respective rounds and Kessler also lost 8-3 to sophomore Bobby Ward of North Carolina State.
With a lot of talent leaving, the Broncs still feel optimistic for the future of the wrestling program.
“All we can hope is that with the young kids the experience will help them in the future,” Taylor said to Rider Sports Information. “The disappointment of not winning a match will drive them next year. Now they understand how serious this is. You can tell them forever but until they actually see what they are up against and how hard it is to win matches out here, they won’t really know. Now they know.”
By Rocco Schirripa