2011-12 Rider Wrestling Outlook
Balance is a state of equilibrium or parity characterized by cancellation of all forces by equal opposing forces.
The Rider University wrestling team is young yet experienced, and possesses enough balance to cancel out all forces it will take on during the 2011-12 season.
"We have a good wrestler at every weight," said Rider head coach Gary Taylor, using his own definition of balance.
The young Broncs have just one senior in the projected starting line-up.
"We were young last year," Taylor said. "We are young again this year but we have experience and we're balanced. We've seen a lot of improvement. I have every reason to believe we will be better."
"We have a couple who are nationally ranked who are looking to take that next step," Taylor said.
Cibula was named the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Championships Most Outstanding Wrestler and enters this season ranked 12th in the nation at 149 pounds by InterMat, 16th by Amateur Wrestling News and 20th by WIN magazine.
"Zac had a consistent year last season," Taylor said, "very steady, and toward the end he was very strong. He's a gamer, and he's at his best when things are on the line. Zac is also bigger this year."
Resnick, who won two matches at Nationals last year at 165, begins the season ranked ninth in the nation at 174 pounds by WIN, 13th by InterMat and 13th by Amateur Wrestling News.
The 6'2" Resnick moves up from 165 to 174 this year. "I think he'll be better at 174," Taylor said. "He has a style that can win matches at Nationals. He's tall and now he's bigger and stronger."
Other key returnees include red-shirt sophomore Ramon Santiago at 157, seniors Jimmy Kirchner and Aaron Nestor at 141, sophomore Chuck Zeisloft at 125, sophomore James Brundage at 165 and heavyweight Evan Craig.
Santiago placed runner-up at the CAA Championships last season and begins this year ranked second in the CAA. "Ramon is a lot stronger this year," Taylor said. "He is starting to learn how to be more positional. He's very good at "free lance" or "funk", whatever you want to call it. He's quick. His year of experience has really helped him."
Kirchner and Nestor will battle for the 141 slot. Kirchner competed at 133 last year, winning 20 matches, and placed third at both the Binghamton tournament and the Keystone Classic. Nestor competed at 141 last season and also won 20 matches, including a fourth place finish at the Binghamton Open.
"Nestor is a seasoned veteran," Taylor said. "He and Kirchner will battle at 141. Both are similar in that they have beaten good people but have not been consistent. Nestor beat the conference champ last year.
Kirchner has had a problem cutting weight (at 133) and being consistent, and the two might go hand-in-hand. He has beaten some really good wrestlers. Now he's at 141, significantly bigger and stronger."
Zeisloft went 4-1 in CAA duals as a rookie last season. "Chuck has a lot of good people behind him but he's the guy to beat at 125," Taylor said. "He had a very good spring and summer, off-season training. He is significantly bigger and technically better. He's obviously more experienced and more mature. He has higher expectations. Everything is moving in the right direction for him. He's both quick and strong now. Last year he relied on his quickness. He's worked hard during the summer to get stronger."
With Resnick competing at 165, Brundage saw action at 184, 174 and 165 as a freshman, compiling 11 victories, including one at the CAA Championships. "James wrestled at 184 last year, only because that is where we needed him, and he did an admirable job," Taylor said. "He is back to his natural weight now and will battle (sophomore) Franklin Miele for that spot this year."
Craig placed fourth at the CAA Championships as a rookie last season and a stellar high school career where he won his last 91 matches at Abington Heights High School to raise his scholastic record to 169-10 with 115 pins along with a pair of State Championships. "Craig was a great high school wrestler but did not have the year he wanted to last season," Taylor said.
Craig will have competition in the Rider wrestling room from freshman Greg Velasco, who earned All-America honors after placing third in the NJ States after a 42-1 senior year. "Greg Velasco and Evan Craig will battle it out," Taylor said. "They are both legitimate Division I heavyweights. Velesco's only loss came to the State Champion in the semifinals. He's a very good athlete." Velesco was the Most Outstanding Player in the New Jersey football all-star game. "He has only been wrestling the last few years," Taylor said.
"We are very pleased with this year's incoming class," said Associate Head Coach John Hangey. "It provided us with some much needed talent and depth at several weight classes."
Morris placed fourth in New York in 2011, third in 2009 at St. Anthony's where he was the three-time Catholic State Champion. "Jimmy Morris is a two-time NY place winner who also has looked good in the preseason," Taylor said.
Fava red-shirted last season at Rider. "We think Vinny could have a really good year at 133," Taylor said. "He is going to be really big for that weight and he's really fast."
Crocco compiled 106 scholastic wins, including a 39-1 record as a senior at Passaic Valley High School, and was ranked 12th in the nation at 145 pounds. "Frank Crocco was the state runner-up and could see action at 157 or 165," Taylor said.
Lintner transferred to Rider from West Virginia. "Brandon could see action at 165 or 174," Taylor said. "He's a solid kid." At Pinelands Regional Lintner collected 95 career wins and was 31-3 as a senior.
Morrison is the fifth member of his family to compete for Rider, including his All-American father, his uncle, and his NCAA qualifying brothers TJ and Robbie. "Unfortunately this is our last one," Taylor said of the family legacy. "Clint needed to red-shirt last year and learn what he needed to work on. All of the Morrisons have been late bloomers. We're seeing a lot of improvement already."
McNeil comes to Rider from North Carolina Greensboro, where he red-shirted last season. "We expect Donald to fight for the starting spot at 197 and should help us solidify that weight," Hangey said. McNeil was twice a Massachusetts State Champion at King Phillip Regional High and was a Prep Nationals Champion for Wyoming Seminary, winning awards for most pins and most team points.
Marr compiled an 83-25 scholastic record at Wall Township High, where he was the District 23 and Region 6 Champion in 2010 and placed seventh in the States. "Marr was ranked number two in the state as a senior prior to a season ending injury and will also compete at 197," Hangey said. As a senior Marr was 18-0 and ranked second in New Jersey before missing most of the year with an injury.
"McNeil has an unorthodox style," Taylor said. "He won a tournament this summer against college wrestlers, defeating an Edinboro wrestler who last year beat the CAA champion. He could be in the mix in the CAA this year."
Six home meets, including Wisconsin and Garden State rivals Princeton and Rutgers, along with nationally ranked conference opponents Old Dominion and Hofstra, highlight the 2011-12 schedule.
"We feel that this year's schedule is one that will test our student-athletes and prepare them for the conference championships and ultimately the NCAA's," Taylor said.
The season begins November 8 with a dual meet at Army and the Broncs will once again take part in the Binghamton Open November 13, where Rider had a runner-up, a third place, a fourth place and a fifth place finisher last season.
A home doubleheader takes place November 18, hosting cross-town rival Princeton in the afternoon and the Wisconsin Badgers that evening.
"We have several key home matches this year, highlighted by the University of Wisconsin," Taylor said. "Hosting a Big 10 school is great for our University, wrestling program and local community. It is also very important for our individual athletes to see where they stand with some of the best wrestlers in the country."
After the annual trip to the Palestra in Philadelphia for the Keystone Classic, Rider hosts Colonial Athletic Association rival ODU and New Jersey rival Rutgers on back-to-back Saturdays.
"Home matches with our in-state rivals, Rutgers and Princeton, will create an exciting atmosphere for our athletes and fans," Taylor said. "We've got some tough matches at home. That is going to be quite a challenge. Our wrestlers better be ready. This schedule will help us get ready for the conference championship and individuals for Nationals. Our trips to the Midlands Championships and the Virginia Duals are two premier events for us each year. These events allow us to compete with the nation's best teams and wrestlers in order to evaluate our training progress at the mid-point of the season."
The all-important CAA Championships, held at Rider the last two years, will be hosted by Binghamton University this season. "The CAA is a very good conference, at the national level and getting better each year," Taylor said.
With the proper balance, the Broncs should be equal to the opposing CAA forces.