Rider Athletes of the Year 2013-14
Wrestling’s Deutsch, Basketball’s McKenzie
Deutsch, of Cherry Hill, NJ (Eastern Regional), won his 125 pound weight class in the Eastern Wrestling League and advanced to the NCAA Championships, where he won two of four matches.
McKenzie, of Springfield, Pa. (Springfield Delco), was an All-MET and All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference forward, graduating as the Rider career rebound leader while finishing third all-time in scoring.
“Rob is very well deserving of this award,” said associate head wrestling coach John Hangey, “and joins a great group of Rider student-athletes that have won this honor. Rob represented Rider and the wrestling program in a very exemplary manner both on and off the mat.”
“We are very proud of MyNeshia for being named the female Athlete of the Year,” said head women’s basketball coach Lynn Milligan. “She has received many awards but to be recognized by your university is special.”
“It’s an amazing recognition because there are so many good athletes here at Rider,” said McKenzie, who ranked second in the MAAC in both scoring and rebounding as a senior. “There were quite a few who had tremendous seasons this year so this is really an honor.”
McKenzie led Rider in scoring (19.5), rebounding (11.1) and steals (4.4) and was second on the team in assists (51). She tied the Rider single game scoring mark with 37 points in a MAAC upset of Iona. “Knocking Iona off of their winning streak (18 consecutive games) was certainly one of the highlights of this year,” McKenzie said.
“I was pretty surprised to win this great award,” said Deutsch, who was 32-6 in his first year at Rider, “being a transfer in my first year here. I’m happy that me winning this helps promote our wrestling team. My coaches and teammates helped me win this award.”
A junior Criminal Justice major with a 3.2 grade point average, Deutsch was named to the NWCA Division I All-Academic team. “We had a good game plan coming in so the coaches and I had a feeling we could have a special season,” Deutsch said.
Deutsch ranked first in the EWL all season and was seeded 11th at the NCAA Championships, after winning 21 consecutive dual meet bouts. He was 6-0 in the EWL and 21-1 in dual meets, his only loss coming to a three-time All-American. “Every day things got a little better and the momentum kept going,” Deutsch said.
A transfer student, Deutsch is now a two-time NCAA Qualifier with 61 career victories in two collegiate seasons. This past year he led the Broncs to a national ranking of 22nd in their first year in the EWL.
McKenzie is a two-time All-MET (Second Team) and two-time All-MAAC (First Team) performer, leading her team to back-to-back 15-win seasons. As a senior she led her team to its first MAAC semifinal game.
“This is a well deserved award for Mac and caps off an amazing career,” Milligan said. “She will go down as one of the all-time greats at Rider. She has worked so hard to aid in building our program and is such a big part of our renewal and growth over the last few years."
“Getting some wins in the MAAC tournament was a true highlight of the season and my career and it was an amazing feeling to leave on that note,” said McKenzie, the Rider Athlete of the Month three consecutive times.
McKenzie is now preparing to play professionally overseas, most likely in Spain. “I’ll probably leave late August and start my season in October,” said McKenzie, who graduated with a Rider record 122 games played. “She will be missed here but she is certainly ready for the next step,” Milligan said.
Deutsch will return for two more seasons on a quest for All-America honors. “The highlight of this season was getting coach (Gary) Taylor’s 400th victory,” Deutsch said. “Individual wins are great and they feel awesome but when you achieve something as a team, that’s something everyone can share. That’s a better feeling than anything individual.”
McKenzie is the first women’s basketball player to earn the Athlete of the Year award since current assistant coach Pam Durkin won in 1996-97 and Rider Hall of Famer Jessica Beck won it in 1995-96. Tami Coyle was a two-sport Athlete of the Year in 2003-04 who was on the basketball team but won the award for her accomplishments on the soccer field.
The last wrestler to win the Rider Athlete of the Year award was Doug Umbehauer, who earned All-America honors during the 2008-09 season. “Rob is 100 percent bought into the lifestyle it takes to be a successful student-athlete and has aspirations of becoming Rider’s first NCAA Champion,” Hangey said.
“That’s my goal, to be on top of that podium,” Deutsch said.