Rider Nips Army, 16-15

Collin Wittmeyer

Collin Wittmeyer

Nov. 8, 2011

WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army wrestling team suffered its first loss of the young season on Tuesday evening as the Black Knights dropped a 16-15 decision to Rider in a non-conference dual match at Christl Arena.

The teams split the 10 bouts, but Evan Craig's major decision in the heavyweight matchup proved to be the deciding factor.

Army sophomore Wil Brown got the Black Knights (2-1) on the board first as he took a 7-1 decision from Rider's Clint Morrison in the 184-pound bout. Brown posted a pair of takedowns and completely dominated the bout from start to finish, racking up over two minutes of riding time. The decision provided Army with an early 3-0 lead.

Rider (1-0) responded by winning the next four bouts to assume a 13-3 advantage. The Broncs evened the match at 3-all following Donald McNeil's 10-3 victory over Army senior Daniel Mills in the 197-pound bout. McNeil took Mills to the mat three times en route to the win.

Rider then moved in front, 7-3, after Craig posted an 18-10 major decision versus Black Knight junior Christian Botero in the heavyweight matchup. Craig dominated the first period, recording one takedown and two near falls to open up an 8-0 lead following the opening frame. Craig increased his cushion to 15-3 after the second period, but Botero rallied with three third-period takedowns to make it interesting. Craig was able to hold off Botero's charge, however, to earn the bonus-point verdict.

Chuck Zeisloft made it three straight wins for Rider, posting a dramatic 5-2 decision opposite Army sophomore David White at 125 pounds. The bout was tied at 2-all heading into the third period, but a late takedown by Zeisloft proved to be the turning point. He added a point for riding time to account for the final margin. The three-point decision increased Rider's lead to 10-3.

The Broncs continued their run of consecutive wins as Vinny Fava upended Army junior Jordan Thome, 8-3, in the 133-pound bout. Fava recorded a pair of takedowns in the first period to take a 4-1 lead after the opening stanza. Thome got to within 4-2 early in the third period, but a late takedown by Fava sealed the decision and extended Rider's lead to 13-3 at the midway point of the match.

Army junior Connor Hanafee put an end to Rider's streak of successive wins as the Black Knights' 141-pounder took a 10-5 decision from Jimmy Kirchner. Hanafee's result, which featured four takedowns, pulled Army to within 13-6 with four bouts remaining.

The Black Knights crept to within 13-9 as Army junior Daniel Young recorded a 6-0 decision versus Aaron Nestor in the 149-pound bout. Young posted a takedown and a two-point near fall in the first period to jump out to a 4-0 lead. After a scoreless second period, Young added a point for an escape in the third and tacked on another for riding time to round out the scoring.

Rider's Zac Cibula scored a pivotal 4-3 decision against Army senior Jimmy Rafferty at 157 pounds to extend the Broncs' lead to 16-9. The bout was deadlocked at 2-2 midway through the third period, but a takedown by Cibula swung the match in his favor.

Black Knight sophomore Alex Smith put forth a strong performance in the 165-pound matchup, earning a 6-2 decision opposite Rider's James Brundage. Smith led 2-0 after the opening frame and a late second-period takedown gave him a 5-2 edge heading to the final stanza. He opened the third period with an escape to account for the final score. Smith's result cut Rider's lead to 16-12 heading into the final bout of the night.

Junior Collin Wittmeyer needed to earn bonus points in the 174-pound bout to lift Army to the victory, but he settled for a 4-2 win over Rider's Jim Resnick.

"There wasn't a lack of effort out there," said Army head coach Joe Heskett. "It was really technical skills that we were deficient in tonight, and those technical skills are going to help you win or help you lose every time you step out onto the mat. This past weekend, our technical skills were definitely at an all-time high and our tactics were strong. Tonight, you could see that some guys reverted to some of the things they were doing last year and other guys just weren't crisp on their finishes and that cost us some matches. Those are things we will clean up so that at the end of the year we are ready to go.

"I'm still proud of the guys," added Heskett. "It was a solid week of wrestling for us. It stinks to lose, but we're a young team. Our growth curve is tremendously high and we're working on that every single day. It's about consistency. It's about doing the little things right. It was a five-five split, but our inability to secure the bonus points was, without question, the difference tonight."

Army will return to action on Saturday, Nov. 12, when the Black Knights travel to Brockport, N.Y., to compete at the Oklahoma-Gold Classic. Action is slated to get under way at 9 a.m., and last all day.

Match Notes: Army falls to 12-12-1 all-time versus Rider ... the Broncs successfully avenged last season's 19-16 setback to the Black Knights in Lawrenceville, N.J. ... Hanafee, Young and Wittmeyer improve to 3-0 on the season ...Brown is also undefeated this year at 2-0 ... a boisterous crowd, featuring dozens of cadets, was on hand for this evening's contest.

Rider 16, Army 15
125: Chuck Zeisloft (R) dec. David White, 5-2
133: Vinny Fava (R) dec. Jordan Thome, 8-3
141: Connor Hanafee (A) dec. Jimmy Kirchner, 10-5
149: Daniel Young (A) dec. Aaron Nestor, 6-0
157: Zac Cibula (R) dec. Jimmy Rafferty, 4-3
165: Alex Smith (A) dec. James Brundage, 6-2
174: Collin Wittmeyer (A) dec. Jim Resnick, 4-2
184: Wil Brown (A) dec. Clint Morrison, 7-1
197: Donald McNeil (R) dec. Daniel Mills, 10-3
285: Evan Craig (R) maj. dec. Christian Botero, 18-10
* Match started at 184 pounds
Referee: George Chilmonik

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