Wednesday, March 12, 2014
With three champions and two third place finishers, the Rider University wrestling team placed fourth of seven in its first Eastern Wrestling League Championship Tournament Saturday, hosted by Cleveland State.
“Our guys wrestled very well,” says Rider head coach Gary Taylor. “They all wrestled hard.”
More importantly, five Broncs are heading to Nationals. “Taking five to Nationals is half the team so we have to be pleased with that,” Taylor says. “I’m very happy with that and the fact that all three of our wrestlers who got to the finals won.”
Defending champion Edinboro finished first (140.5), followed by Bloomsburg (113) and Lock Haven (87.5). “Edinboro has two wrestlers ranked first in the nation and Bloom has a lot of seniors in their lineup,” Taylor explained. “But we’ve been working hard and the coaches did a good job getting our guys ready. Today it paid off.”
In the finals at 125, sophomore Robert Deutsch (Cherry Hill, NJ/Eastern Regional), the top seed, defeated the #2 seed, Kory Miles of Edinboro, 2-1.
In the finals at 165, senior Ramon Santiago (Sayreville, N.J./Sayreville),the second seed, defeated the top seed, Josh Veltre of Bloomsburg. 2-1.
In the finals at 174, sophomore Conor Brennan (Brick, NJ/Brick Twp.), the top seed, defeated the second seed, Mike Dessino of Bloomsburg. 9-4.
In consolations junior Clint Morrison (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cedar Cliff) placed third at 184. In the battle for third place Morrison, the third seed, defeated Dustin Conti of Clarion 4-0. Morrison won three of four bouts.
Rider junior Chuck Zeisloft (Woodbury Heights, N.J./Gateway) placed third at 133, winning three of four bouts. The fourth seed, Zeisloft defeated Dan King of Cleveland State 3-1.
Deutsch heads to Nationals with a record of 30-4, 21-1 duals. Deutsch won twice by tech fall on his way to finals. Deutsch was 6-0 in EWL dual meets and is ranked 14th in the nation among 125 pounders. Deutsch qualified for Nationals last year as the Colonial Athletic Association runner-up.
Santiago heads to Nationals with a 20-12 record, 13-9 duals. Saturday he won by a major decision in his first bout and was 5-1 in the EWL. Santiago was a National qualifier last season as the CAA Champion.
Brennan heads to Nationals with a record of 26-7, 18-3 duals. Brennan won a pair of 3-1 decisions and was 6-0 in the EWL. Brennan began the season as a 157 pounder but was forced into the lineup at 174 due to injuries.
Morrison heads to Nationals with a record of 18-4 overall, 15-3 duals. Morrison lost in overtime in the semifinals before winning twice in consolations. Morrison was 3-1 in EWL competition, missing much of the season with injuries and is ranked third in the conference at 184. Morrison went 13-1 with five major decisions and two tech falls to finish the dual meet season, and cracked the top 20 in national rankings.
Zeisloft heads to Nationals with a record of 23-14 overall, 12-10 duals. He was 3-3 in the EWL and ranked second in the conference at 133 pounds. Zeisloft led the 2011-12 Rider squad with 23 wins and red-shirted last season with an ankle injury.
“All five of those guys had to perform well under pressure today and they did,” Taylor says.
Tournament host Cleveland State was fifth (74.5), Clarion was sixth (69.5) and George Mason was seventh (43.5).
The EWL will send 23 wrestlers to the NCAA Division I Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla., March 20-22, including Deutsch, Santiago and Brennan.
Rider sent four wrestlers to Nationals last year, two in 2012, three in 2011 and six in 2010. Rider sent four wrestlers to Nationals in 2009 and came home with its 13th All-American.
“It’s going to be hard, competing with the best in the nation,” Taylor says. “But the good news is we’re taking five out there.”