Rider wins home finale, dominates Clarion

By Logan VanDine

In its last home match at Alumni Gym, Rider wrestling had to put on a strong showing in front of the home crowd, especially the seniors. The Broncs did just that as they cruised past the Clarion Golden Eagles 27-9 on Feb. 16 to move to 7-0 in Mid-American Conference play.

The first bout of the day set the tone of the entire match with senior Azeem Bell starting off with a dominating win by major decision. 

Bell was followed by junior David Szuba, who picked up a win by decision to give Rider a quick 7-0.

“I’ve been doing this for 17 years and having the support system back at home that I was raised in, that my mother and father were teaching me hard work, taught me to believe in myself,” Bell said. “I want to remind myself that I am a good enough wrestler like everyone else in the division.” 

The Broncs did not stop there, only losing two bouts with one being a forfeit at the very end of the match. This gave Rider its seventh win of the season. 

Every outgoing wrestler picked up a win in their final bouts at Alumni Gym with Bell, graduate students Richie Koehler and Michael Wilson and senior Quinn Kinner. 

After the match, Head Coach John Hangey said, “Their energy level is good and they’re all involved in trying to help each other, and that was the first goal.”

Koehler talked about how he thought he wrestled in his bout, which had some twists and turns throughout.

“I felt like I was fully in control, but I wasn’t, so sometimes you have to roll with the punches. I know my cardio is good. We train really hard, and I felt confident, I felt comfortable, you just have to keep it building,” said Koehler.

Koehler’s bout saw his opponent seeming to hang on him in an awkward position while he was trying to escape him. 

Koehler described it as a “peculiar situation.”

“I don’t want to run the kid off the mat, and I also don’t want to slam the kid on the mat, because it’s the end of the year and we are getting ready for March, getting ready for the MAC Tournament,” said Koehler. “It definitely was a little questionable but something I can laugh about in 15 or 20 years.”

With the Broncs only having two more regular season matches against Cleveland State and Pittsburgh, Bell described his confidence in his team. 

“We are very confident, I’m very confident in all my teammates … We can beat Cleveland State and beat Pittsburgh, so I have the utmost confidence in my team and everyone around us,” Bell said. 

Hangey feels the same level of confidence as Bell. 

“Cleveland State is a match I expect to win, and Pittsburgh is a match that we can win. … If we wrestle like we did today and we bring that fight to Pittsburgh, I like our chances.”

The Broncs now move to 7-6 on the season and are scheduled to wrestle the Pittsburgh Panthers on Feb. 22 at 6 p.m., followed by Cleveland State on Feb. 23 at 2 p.m.    

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