By Paige McAtee
The Bronc’s wrestling team had a rough first meet, losing to Lehigh, which is ranked 17th in the nation, on Sunday, Nov. 8.
Lehigh is a difficult team to wrestle against for the first dual meet of the season, and Rider came out with only one win in the 149-pound weight class, losing the meet 31-3.
“Lehigh is ranked in the Top 20 in the nation for a reason,” said Head Coach Gary Taylor. “Lehigh probably should be ranked higher than 17th, actually, when one considers that they defeated Top 10 Oklahoma State last year with mainly the same team.”
Despite the loss, Rider was competitive with Lehigh in the matches. Senior Michael Kessler was the only member on the Broncs’ team to win his match. He defeated junior Brian Tanen from Lehigh 3-2. It was his 75th career win. Kessler moved down a weight class this year and is ranked 12th in the nation and is ranked first in the conference.
In the 265-pound weight class, senior Ed Bordas wrestled against the sixth-ranked heavyweight in the nation. The score was 3-2 with 10 seconds left until Bordas went for the takedown. The score ended up 5-2, but it was a valiant effort by Bordas, who is ranked 19th in the nation and first in the conference.
“I thought there were three to four weights where we did not wrestle as well as we could, but the truth is that their kids were just better in those weights,” said Taylor.
In the 165-pound weight class, redshirt junior Rob Morrison, wrestled well in a loss. Morrison almost won his match, but his opponent escaped at the end of the match to take it into overtime where Morrison was defeated 7-5.
Lehigh and Rider have gone head-to-head 19 times. Lehigh has claimed 14 wins and Rider five. Last year against Lehigh, the Broncs lost 25-9. The last time Rider won against Lehigh was in the season opener during the 2006-2007 season.
Lehigh has eight returning players fom a team that was 23-1 overall a year ago and placed 28th at the NCAA Championships.
The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) ranked Rider No. 2, just below Old Dominion. Rider had 10 wrestlers in the preseason rankings: sophomore Jim Kirchner in the 133-pound weight class, junior Fred Rodgers for 141 pounds, Kessler for 149 pounds, redshirt freshman Zac Cibula for 157 pounds, Morrison for 165 pounds, senior Mike Ward for 174 pounds, senior Mike Miller for 185 pounds, sophomore Tyler Smith for 197 pounds, and Bordas for the heavyweight weight class.
“Expectations are to keep improving each week and be a good team by the midpoint in this season,” said Taylor.
The next match for the Broncs is at the Binghamton Open on Sunday, Nov. 15.
The tournament begins at 9 a.m. where the Broncs should have their entire team there, fully healthy.
By Paige McAtee