Broncs split road matches to close out regular season

By Logan K. VanDine

With the Mid-American Conference Championships on the horizon, Rider wrestling knew it had to finish off the regular season strong as it embarked on a two-day road trip.

The Broncs split their matches against No. 18 Pittsburgh on Feb. 22 and Cleveland State on Feb. 23, losing to the Panthers but following with a win over the Vikings.

The Broncs’ win over Cleveland State marked a perfect 8-0 record in conference play for Rider this season, a program record.

‘The kids wrestled hard’

Despite Rider heading into this match with lots of momentum after winning its last two matches, the Panthers showed why they are a nationally ranked team as the Broncs fell to No. 18 Pittsburgh 29-9 on Feb. 22 in the first of two road matches.

Senior Tyler Klinsky started things off for the Broncs, but his bout loss by technical fall was a sign of things to come. 

Rider ended up losing its first four bouts of the night and eight overall to drop back to .500 on the season at 7-7. Head Coach John Hangey commented on this loss for the Broncs.

“The kids wrestled hard, but they gave up too many first takedowns,” said Hangey. “I thought Pittsburgh came out and wrestled to score first and quickly and they did that.” 

Despite the lopsided loss, there were some bright spots for the Broncs with juniors Colton Washleski and David Szuba winning the only bouts for the Broncs, Washleski winning by decision and Szuba by fall. 

Hangey was pleased with his two junior wrestlers in their bout victories.

“They did what they’ve been doing and they went out to establish their ties, their offense, and their mentality was that they were going to go out there and score,” Hangey said. 

Washleski gave his input on how he thought he wrestled and the challenge he faced going up against a good team like Pittsburgh.

“I wrestled pretty good, I just kept going forward on the attack and kept scoring,” said Washleski. “I could have scored more if I took the chance and I’m glad for our schedule having high-caliber teams like Pittsburgh because it challenges us and makes us better.”

‘It’s super important’

Looking to avenge their loss to the Panthers, the Broncs had to quickly turn things around as they traveled to take on Cleveland State. In their final match of the regular season, Rider rebounded to pick up the victory 23-12 on Feb. 23.

After losing its first four bouts the day before, Rider made sure that would not be the case against the Vikings with Klinksy and graduate student Richie Koehler winning the first two bouts for the Broncs by decision and the team winning four out of the first five bouts of the afternoon.

The Broncs did not slow down from there as they only lost a total of three bouts to win three out of the last four bouts to finish off the season over .500 at 8-7.

After losing their first four bouts against Pittsburgh, Hangey spoke about how important it was for his team to jump out to an early lead.

“It’s super important because with a team like Cleveland State that’s trying to rally their troops and trying to win their first MAC title, you want to make sure that you close the door on them as soon as you can and winning four out of the first five was very important,” said Hangey.

Senior Quinn Kinner also rebounded for a bout win by major decision.“I was a little disappointed in myself after the [Pittsburgh] match, I didn’t feel like I pushed it enough, and going into the Cleveland State matchup I just really wanted to make wrestling happen and wrestle hard,” Kinner said.  

The Broncs will now prepare for the MAC Championships, which are set to take place beginning on March 8 in Kent, Ohio.

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