Broncs in CAA Championships Saturday
BOSTON, MASS.-The Rider wrestling team will compete for the Colonial Athletic Association Championship this Saturday, held at Boston University's Case Gymnasium.
Up to 70 wrestlers spread out amongst 10 different weight classes from seven universities will compete for the 19 automatic NCAA Championship berths available. "There will be some wrestlers going at it very hard," said Rider head coach Gary Taylor. "The CAA has a lot of quality wrestlers."
The CAA Championships will kick off at 10 a.m. with the quarterfinals and then close with the finals, which start at 7 p.m. Adults can purchase tickets ahead of time for $22 by clicking here or purchase them on the day of the event for $25. Tickets will be $15 for youth (17 and under) and college students with valid ID.
"If the pre-seeds hold up, we'll have seven wrestlers seeded in the 10 weight classes," Taylor said.
Santiago (27-7, 6-0 CAA) is ranked 16th in the nation at 165 pounds and is ranked first in the CAA. "I've already beaten everyone in my bracket so I'm going in with some confidence," said Santiago, who placed third last year and was second in the CAA as a freshman.
"Ramon made a big jump this season," Taylor said. "He has gotten more consistent." Santiago has won nine of his last 10 matches and 15 of his last 17. The lone loss in the last 10 matches was to the 2012 NCAAs Most Outstanding Wrestler, David Taylor of Penn State.
"That was a great experience wrestling at Penn State, in front of 7,000 people," said Santiago, who placed at the prestigious Midlands Tournament. "Midlands is as close to the NCAAs as you can get as far as the competition and the atmosphere," Taylor said. "That's going to help him in the CAA Championships."
"I don't feel pressure being the number one seed," Santiago said, "I just look at it as I'm supposed to win so it gives me confidence."
Cibula (21-9, 4-2 CAA) is ranked second in the CAA at 157 pounds. "Zac is in a tough weight class were there are a lot of even wrestlers going at it," Taylor said. "He competes really hard. I know his plans are to win the conference championship."
"I'm going to have to come with my 'A' game," Cibula said. "My sophomore year I had a big upset in the CAAs and that got me to Nationals, so that was certainly one of the highlights of my career. I'm looking forward to adding another highlight this Saturday."
Cibula was the CAA Championships Most Outstanding Performer in 2011 and placed third last year.
"We're all excited for this weekend," Cibula said of the Broncs. "Anything is possible, like the upset I had in 2011. That could happen to any of the other nine Broncs as well."
Other key Broncs include sophomore Jimmy Morris (Northport, NY/St. Anthony's), freshman Ryan Wolfe (New Castle, Del./Caravel), junior James Brundage (Ossining, N.Y./Ossining), freshman Curt Delia (Mullica Hill, NJ/Delsea) and sophomore Donald McNeil (Plainville, Mass./Wyoming Seminary).
Morris (24-10, 3-2 CAA) is ranked second in the CAA at 133 pounds. Wolfe (22-10, 5-1 CAA) is ranked first in the CAA at 184 pounds.
Morris was the top seed at the CAAs as a rookie but lost in the semifinals.
Brundage (17-11, 4-2 CAA) is ranked third in the CAA at 174 pounds, Delia (19-10, 4-2) is ranked third at 149 and McNeil (18-14, 3-3 CAA) is ranked third in the CAA at 197 pounds.
Brundage was an NCAA qualifier last year with a fourth place finish at CAAs.
Hofstra University (4-2 CAA) has won 10 of the last 11 CAA Championships. Old Dominion (6-0 CAA) has nine wrestlers ranked among the top four in the CAA. ODU is ineligible for the team title this year due to its upcoming change in conference affiliation, but the Monarchs' 10 wrestlers will be eligible to compete for the 19 automatic berths. Binghamton University (3-3 CAA) is ranked 19th in the nation by InterMat.
The CAA this year has been granted three berths apiece at the 133, 141 and 197 weight classes, two at 149, 157 and 285, and one at 125, 165, 174 and 184.
Following the CAA Championships, the 19 automatic berth recipients will compete at the NCAAs on March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. The remaining 40 NCAA at-large bids from across the country will be announced on March 13.