Rider Runner-Up at CAAs

Courtesy: Rider Sports Information
Release: March 09, 2013
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165 champion Ramon Santiago
Courtesy: Peter G. Borg (Rider University)

College Wrestling - Rider T-2nd at CAAs
Santiago Champion at 165

Santiago, Cibula, McNeil advance to NCAAs

BOSTON, Mass.--The Rider University wrestling team finished tied for second at the Colonial Athletic Association championships, which were held in Boston University's Case Gymnasium on Saturday.  The Broncs finished tied with Binghamton and were 13 points behind 2013 champion Hofstra.

"We obviously want to win the championship," said associate head coach John Hangey.  "But to finish second after placing seventh last year is a great feeling.  We waited a year to get it right and our wrestlers did a great job.  We had some matches we feel we should have won but we wrestled the way we are capable of.  We were first most of the day and are ecstatic with the performance."

In 10 weight classes, Rider took home the individual championship at 165 and added two second place finishes, two third place finishes and a fourth place finish and the Broncs will advance at least three wrestlers to the NCAA championships in Des Moines, Iowa, March 21-23, Ramon Santiago, Zac Cibula and Donald McNeil.

"I give a lot of the credit for our improvement to assistant coach Nic Bedelyon," Hangey said.  "He came in and helped instill a higher level of intensity and discipline and raised the expectations for the program.  The kids really bought into what he brought to the room.  Today was a direct result of his efforts."

Junior Ramon Santiago (Sayreville), the top seed at 165, advanced to the NCAA championship with an 8-2 title match win over third seed Brett Miller from Old Dominion.  Santiago earned a bye into the semifinals and defeated the fourth seed Mitchell Wightman of Boston, 7-5 to setup the championship bout. 

"Ramon did a great job winning this tournament," said Hangey.  "He put himself in a great position and was clearly the best wrestler at the 165 weight class.  He dominated the year and showed up today and wrestled well."

Santiago entered the championship with a perfect CAA record (6-0) and is ranked 16th in the nation.  Santiago placed third at the CAA championships last year after finishing runner-up in the 157 weight class as a red-shirt freshman.

"What Ramon did was very hard," Hangey added.  "You have to be so mentally tough to beat an opponent more than once.  You see them the first time, there is nothing in your head and you aren't thinking about anything.  The second time around in a season, your opponent makes adjustments and then you make adjustments.  Ramon was steady and poised and that was really impressive."

Senior 157 Zac Cibula (Luxemburg, Wis./Luxemburg Casco), the second seed, won a 14-3 major decision over Binghamton's Jack McKeever in the quarterfinal.  In the semifinal, Cibula defeated Hofstra's Tyler Banks, TB 2-1 to advance to finals where he lost top seed Nestor Taffur (Boston University) 5-4 in overtime.  Cibula's season will continue as one of the two automatic qualifiers at 157 for the CAA.

"Zac had the wrestler from BU beat," Hangey said.  "He gave up a take down with 20 or 25 seconds left and that was the down fall.  You have to finish the match and wrestle all seven minutes and Zac knows that.  He wrestled hard and put himself in position to win and just made one critical error at the end.  Zac will use this as motivation at NCAAs."

Sophomore 197 Donald McNeil (Plainville, Mass./Wyoming Seminary) pinned Matthew Meadows of George Mason in 5:41 in the quarterfinals.  Top seed Nathan Schiedel defeated McNeil with a 12-1 major decision in the semifinals.  McNeil advanced in the consolation round with a 12-4 major decision over Hofstra's Tim Murphy and won the third place match by a 6-0 score over Old Dominion third seed Jacob Henderson. 

McNeil won three of four bouts on Saturday and took one of the three CAA automatic qualifiers at 197 for the NCAA tournament.

"Donald did a great job of getting ready for the tournament," Hangey said.  "He made adjustments and did all the right things all year and put himself in position to make NCAAs."

Freshman 184 Ryan Wolfe (New Castle, Del./Caravel), the top seed, earned a first-round bye to face fourth-seed Brian Sternlieb of Drexel in the semifinals. Wolfe earned a 5-4 decision over Sternlieb before losing in the finals 7-5 in overtime to Binghamton's Cody Read.

"Ryan wrestled great all day," Hangey said.  "He stopped wrestling the last 30 seconds of the finals and lost.  Imagine having the pressure of being a number one seed and wrestling everyone for a second time and then add doing that as a true freshman against a national qualifier from 2012.  He dominated his championship match completely but at the end, wrestled not to lose instead of to win.  We are hopeful he will be selected for an at-large bid that will be decided Monday through Wednesday of this coming week."

Junior 174 James Brundage (Ossining, N.Y./Ossining), the fourth seed, earned a 13-4 major decision over George Mason's Seth Robertson in the quarterfinals.  Brundage lost, 5-3, to the top seed Jermaine John from Hofstra.  Brundage advanced though the consolation bout with a 10-7 win over Binghamton's John Paris and won the third place match over Kyle Czarnecki (Boston University) 12-5 to go 3-1 on the day.

Sophomore 141 Vinny Fava (Elmwood Park) won his opening bout, 10-5 over fourth seeded Joe Bonaldi from Binghamton.  Old Dominion's Chris Mecate, the top seed, defeated Fava 6-0 in the semifinal match.  Fava came back to defeat George Mason's Sahid Kargbo, 4-2, before losing the third place match to Hofstra's Luke Vaith 8-0.  Fava placed fourth, going 2-2 on the afternoon.

Freshman 125 Patrick Skinner (Freeport, N.Y./Kellenberg) won a 5-3 decision over third seed Jake Goodwin from Drexel in the quarterfinals.  In the semi-final, Skinner lost 17-1 by tech fall to Rob Deutsch, the number two seed from Drexel.  Skinner was pinned in his first consolation match by George Mason's Rich Carroll-Lavorat at the 6:59 mark.

Sophomore 133 Jimmy Morris (Northport, NY/St. Anthony's) was seeded second. Morris defeated Drexel's Jordan Heart, 6-2, in the quarterfinal.  Morris lost to third seed Derek Steeley, 7-4, in the semifinals and was then defeated in consolation action, 7-6, by Joshua Harlowe from Boston University.

Freshman 285 Greg Velasco (Union Beach/Keyport) dropped a 4-0 decision to fourth seed Matt Tourdot of Old Dominion. Velasco stayed alive pinning Hofstra's Zeal McGrew in 2:48, but dropped an 8-2 decision to the second seed, Tyler Deuel of Binghamton.

Third seeded freshman 149 Curt Delia (Mullica Hill/Delsea) lost, 8-2, to Hofstra's Cody Ruggirello and lost in the consolations to George Mason's Gregory Flournoy 2-1.

The CAA will be sending 19 wrestlers to the NCAA Wrestling Championship, including the 10 individual champions from the CAA championship. The other nine bids will be at-large bids and will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition, qualifying event placement, quality wins, results against common opponents, winning percentage, RPI, coaches' rankings and the number of matches contested at that weight class.

Rider placed seventh as a team at the CAAs in 2011-12.


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