Wrestling Outlook 2015-16
In 1997 the Rider wrestling team was ranked seventh in the nation over the final five weeks of the season and came home from the NCAA Championships with three All-Americans.
With the return of five conference champions who have combined to win 13 matches at Nationals, the 2015-16 Broncs look to accomplish what the ’97 team did.
“We have several people on this team who have beaten All-Americans, so it is certainly a goal of this team to come home with multiple All-Americans,” said Rider head coach Gary Taylor, who saw his Broncs reach a national ranking of 10th last season. “There is a ton of work that has to go into that and we have to hit both the conference and the Nationals right, for that to happen. If they perform the way that we believe they can, this could be the year.”
The 2015-16 schedule is as tough as any in recent memory, but with five returning Eastern Wrestling League Champions this might just be the year for it. “We should be solid from top to bottom if we can stay healthy,” said Taylor, who enters the season with 417 career wins, the second most in Division I among active head coaches.
“If we don’t get more than one All-American out of that group, I think they will be disappointed,” said associate head coach John Hangey. “They are all very capable. They’ve beaten people who are in that top status.”
Clagon became Rider’s 14th wrestling All-American and Rider’s first All-American freshman when he placed fifth at the NCAA Championships last year. “BJ has a goal of being a National Champion,” Taylor said.
Clagon begins the season at the NWCA All-Star Classic, where 20 of the top wrestlers in the nation compete in a dual meet. “That is a valuable experience that is good for him, good for the program and its good for the University,” Taylor said. “To have a young man represent Rider on ESPNU is a win in every situation.”
Clagon was paired with All-American Lenny Richardson of Old Dominion. Clagon beat Richardson 2-1 at Nationals last year, after Richardson beat Clagon 2-1 at Midlands earlier in the season. “He has a very tough opponent who he split with last year,” Taylor said.
Deutsch is a two-time conference champion and three-time National Qualifier. “This is his last shot and he is very focused on what he wants to accomplish,” Taylor said. “He’s a hard worker and a very strong competitor. He has won matches at Nationals, now he is ready to take that next step and be an All-American.”
Walsh won five of seven matches at the 2015 University Freestyle Nationals after winning a match at the 2015 NCAAs as a freshman EWL Champion. This year Walsh will battle senior Curt Delia, who red-shirted last year, for 157.
“That will be a battle,” Taylor said. “Walsh is a defending conference champion and had a great year. He’s a fierce competitor. But Delia has some wins over All-Americans. We have two very good wrestlers at that weight class.
Brennan is a two-time EWL Champion who placed seventh at the 2015 University Freestyle Nationals in Ohio. “He has won matches at Nationals every year,” Taylor said. “Connor really wants to be on that (All-America) podium this year. That’s his goal.”
Wolfe moves up from 174 to 197 this year. “We did that twice before with (1983 All-American) Tim Morrison and (1993 All-American) John Hangey, move them up for their last year, and it worked out pretty well those two times,” Taylor said. “We’re hoping this one will also.”
“Wolfe has a chance to have a really special year,” Hangey said. “He brings a lot of speed to that weight class.”
Wert is recovering from surgery after winning 14 matches last year and placing third in the EWL Championships.
Calas was a two-time New Jersey State Champion at Seton Hall Prep. “He has the pedigree,” Hangey said.
“Valcarce has wrestled varsity matches for us,” Taylor said.
“Kirchner has wrestled varsity off and on the last couple of years,” Taylor said. “He’s also been injured. Hopefully he can stay healthy and have a good year.”
Morris will move up to 141. Morris compiled 25 wins as a rookie before red-shirting 2014 and seeing limited action last year due to surgery. “He had a very good freshman season,” Taylor said, “and he’s looking to get back to that form. He has beaten some very good wrestlers.”
Junior Wayne Stinson will move up to 174 and will battle freshman Dean Sherry, sophomore Joe Prevost and junior Steve Nelson for the starting job. “They are all tough kids,” Hangey said. “Stinson was a State Champ, Nelson was a State runner-up, Sherry was a high school National runner-up.”
Sophomore Michale Fagg-Daves red-shirted last year and moves up to 184 this year, along with senior Andrew Reca. “Fagg-Daves went to some open tournaments last year and got some experience,” Taylor said.
Senior Greg Velasco returns to heavyweight after a 14-win season last year. “He’s the front runner right now,” Hangey said. Mauro Correnti, a transfer from Lock Haven, and freshman Ryan Cloud will fight for the heavyweight role as well. “Mauro is pretty talented,” Hangey said. “He placed third in the State as a senior. Cloud is probably the future. He could be special down the road.”
The 2015-16 Broncs could be special this year. As special as the ’97 team.
With multiple All-Americans.