By Logan VanDine
After losing four consecutive matches, Rider Wrestling broke its skid and won two matches on Feb. 11 and Feb. 12, taking down Clarion and George Mason, respectively.
Rider won a hard-fought and gritty match against Clarion on its senior night, 16-15, that snapped a four-match losing streak on Feb. 11.
The battle started strong for the Broncs who took the first three bouts and jumped out to a 9-0 lead, and looking good early on.
The Golden Eagles refused to go down as they stormed back, taking three of the next four matches and deadlocking the contest at 12 entering the final two bouts.
“It was like deja vu all over again, so it was like, okay can we stop the landslide this time, and [junior] Mike Wilson went out and did an awesome job for us. He went out and just fought that kid to death and found a way to win, and that turned back the momentum,” Head Coach John Hangey said on his team’s win.
And turned back the momentum it did. Graduate student Matt Correnti defeated Clarion’s Brett Wittmann 10-3, and that was plenty for the Broncs to take back the lead.
“It felt great. Anytime getting a win is a good feeling, especially when you get a major and a tight match like this; it’s a great feeling. I did it for the team and the coaches, and it feels good,” Correnti said on his victory.
Hangey gave an overall assessment of his team’s performance and how they were able to hang on and get back to the win column.
“I thought we wrestled the way we practiced all week. We really emphasized positioning, discipline, toughness and finishing. All those things we saw from a lot of our kids tonight. All I ask for everyday is for effort and fight, and they brought it today,” he said.
The Broncs traveled to George Mason feeling confident after a huge win and carried that momentum right into the match. Rider won its second-straight match, 21-13 against the Patriots on Feb. 12, making the Broncs a dominant 19-1 in the all-time series
The Broncs were off to a fast start with three straight bout victories, opening the match and again up 9-0.
The Patriots made it interesting, cutting the overall lead down to two points, but the Broncs never trailed, and they finished the night off with freshman David Szuba’s clinching victory over George Mason’s Austin Smith. This sent the Broncs home happy and content with their fourth win of the season.
“They wrestled hard again. They fought again. The more they fight, the more they’re going to succeed, so tonight was about duplicating their performance from yesterday, and they did just that. So I was very happy with them,” Hangey said.
Szuba, who sealed the deal for the Broncs, gave his thoughts on his team’s performance and how he was able to finish the Patriots.
“I think we competed tough but not as tough as I think we can be,” Szuba said. “I was very happy about leaving no doubt on the mat. It is what I have to start doing, and I did that tonight.”
The Broncs are now 4-8 on the season with two more regular-season matchups before the Mid–American Conference Championship.
“They’re wrestling hard, they’re fighting for each other, they’re supporting each other and they’re representing the program the way they’re supposed to be, so all things are pointing towards success. So, they just have to stay on this path and see where the chips fall at the end of the season,” Hangey said on his team’s recent success.
The Broncs will look to earn three consecutive wins for the first time this season, as they will head to Philadelphia and play Drexel on Feb. 18.