Six-year Bronc reflects on Rider tenure

By Logan K. VanDine

Rider wrestling has brought in many talented wrestlers over the past few years, with Ethan Laird ’23, junior David Szuba, senior Quinn Kinner and graduate student Jake Silverstein to name a few.

Graduate student Richie Koehler, who has been wrestling as a Bronc since 2018, is closing his tenure with Rider as his sixth and final season comes to an end.

‘A lot of things have changed’

Koehler reflected on his six-year tenure with the final home match of his college career slated for Feb. 16.

“I definitely can’t believe that I have been here for a full six years. Coming back here six years ago, being that little 18-year-old walking on campus, and a lot of things have changed during my time here,” Koehler said.

Despite the ups and downs Koehler has dealt with during his time at Rider, through injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic, he is still grateful for all the opportunities the team gave him.

“It’s been pretty awesome,” Koehler said with a smile on his face. “Coming onto campus I was the third string at 133 pounds. I had to beat out a six-year senior and a kid who was on a full ride and was recruited over me, and now being a six-year senior and the captain on the team, it has kind of come full circle.” 

‘Great influences on me’

Koehler also spoke very highly of Head Coach John Hangey and noted one of the assistant coaches, Nic Bedelyon.

“[Hangey] has been more than just a coach,” Koehler said. “He’s been a role model, a mentor and someone who I really look up to and inspires me to be better in every facet of my life, and Nic, too. They have both been role models and great influences on me.”

Hangey, who’s in his seventh season as head coach, was touched by Koehler’s words.

“I’m humbled by that comment. I try to guide each member of the team like a second father with expectations and provide them with the means to be successful,” Hangey said.

Koehler started wrestling when he was in second grade. Some of his fellow members from his first wrestling club would also go on to wrestle at Rider.

‘I just had success’

Despite playing baseball and soccer in high school at Christian Brothers Academy in Middletown, New Jersey, Koehler still always knew wrestling was going to be his sport.

“I just had success in high school, and that’s when schools started to reach out to me … and I started to think that I can wrestle past high school,” Koehler said.

Looking back on when he decided to wrestle at Rider, Koehler spoke about his initial takeaways from the school, the wrestling program and the coaches.

“When I did my walk on campus with my mom and Coach Hangey, you knew what you were getting with Coach Hangey … he’s a really good man, a really good leader, and Nic was very nice, and little did I know when I got into that wrestling room, they were going to mold me into the man that I am today,” he said.

Koehler took the great coaching he had and put up an incredible resume for the Broncs by being a Mid-American Conference runner-up during the 2020-2021 Season, being an NCAA Qualifier at 133 pounds during the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 seasons and finishing third at the Keystone Classic. 

Despite Koehler’s impressive resume, he is still looking to become an even better wrestler with the last few months he has left.

Even though Koehler feels that he has more to accomplish and more energy left in the tank, Hangey said he has seen growth and leadership in Koehler.

“Richie has grown into one of our team leaders. During his first few years, he kept quiet, worked hard and earned the respect of his coaches and peers while watching how the upperclassmen went about their business. Richie leads by example on and off the mat and always puts the program first,” said Hangey.

With the Broncs’ last regular season home match against Clarion set for Feb. 16 at noon, Koehler was asked if he or his other senior teammates will be emotional in their last match at the Alumni Gym.

“I don’t think it’s really set in for all of us yet because all eyes are on March, but it does feel a little weird thinking about how in about five or six weeks, it’s all over … so you just have to be grateful for every moment,” he said. 

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