By Bud Focht
Rider University Sports Information
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ—A new conference and six home matches, including hosting the two-time National Champions, highlight the 2013-14 Rider University wrestling schedule, which was announced today.
After beginning the season at the Virginia Tech Hokie Open, Rider’s Alumni Gymnasium will host the two-time National Champion, Penn State, on November 16.
“I think hosting Penn State will not only be good for Rider University but for the wrestling community in the entire state of New Jersey,” said Rider head coach Gary Taylor. “I really thank Cael (PSU head coach Cael Sanderson), Cody (associate head coach Cody Sanderson) and Casey (assistant coach Casey Cunningham) for doing this. Penn State is a program that tries to help the smaller programs.”
“Hosting Penn State is a great opportunity for our University and wrestling program,” said associate head coach John Hangey. “It provides our student athletes with critical experience against some of the best wrestlers in the nation.”
“They didn’t have to come here so I have a lot of respect for them,” Taylor said. “I’m looking forward to it. Last year when we went there our kids competed hard and we’ll be ready for them this year.”
The Eastern Wrestling League dual meet season begins November 22 when the Broncs host Lock Haven. “I have a ton of respect for the EWL,” Taylor said. “When I first came to Rider (1978) these were the teams I began scheduling. These tough programs with great tradition helped prepare us for the NCAAs.”
“The EWL is a long standing wrestling conference that has a great tradition and history of success,” Hangey said. “We look forward to the challenges that the EWL presents and feel that it will help us become better prepared for the NCAA Championships.”
Rider schedule mainstays such as the Keystone Classic at Penn, dual meets at Binghamton, Edinboro and Clarion and the prestigious Midlands Championships highlight the first semester. “The Keystone Classic is a great tournament,” Taylor said. “They bring in different teams each year but it is always tough. This year will be one of the toughest in recent years.”
“The Keystone Classic, VA Duals and the Midlands Championships are very important events for our program every year,” Hangey said. “We get exposed to several nationally ranked teams and individuals that help prepare us for the National tournament in March.”
The Broncs begin the 2014 calendar year by hosting Harvard and EWL-rival Bloomsburg, sandwiched around the annual trip to the Virginia Duals.
Rider will visit former conference rivals Boston University, Sacred Heart and Drexel, while hosting new rival Duke and the Broncs’ oldest rival, Hofstra.
“We have been together with Drexel and Hofstra since the old East Coast Conference,” Hangey said, “so it only makes sense to keep those rivalries going.”
“I’m hoping we can continue with these traditional rivalries,” Taylor said. “We’ve had lots of good battles with them. There was a stretch when we won five conference titles in a row (1996-2000) and then they (Hofstra) won five in a row (2001-2005) and it was going back and forth.”
The dual meet season concludes at EWL foe Cleveland State and cross town rival Princeton, before heading back to Cleveland State for the EWL Championships.
The NCAAs this year will be held in Oklahoma City.
“Oklahoma City is a great venue for the NCAA tournament in March,” Hangey said. “We look forward to traveling there and having the opportunity to compete with the nation’s best athletes for All-American status.”
“I feel good about going back to Oklahoma,” Taylor said. “We’ve only been there for Nationals two other times, and both times we came home with an All-American. (Tim Morrison in 1983, John Lucerne in 1985) So I’ve always had a warm spot in my heart for Oklahoma City since the first one, the second one confirmed it and I’m hoping the third one does even more.”