Riley’s off to NCAA Wrestling Championships

By Scott Gibbons

Rhode Island College senior Mike Riley is off to the 2003 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships, which will be hosted by Ohio Northern University on Mar. 7-8. The Lowell, Massachusetts native automatically qualified for the national tournament by capturing the New England title at 133 lbs. at the New England College Conference Wrestling Association (NECCWA) Championships.

“I am excited to go to the National Championships,” says the senior captain. “It’s nice to see that all of the work I’ve put in has paid off, but there’s still a lot to be accomplished.”

Riley was unstoppable at the NECCWAs, which were hosted by Roger Williams University on Feb. 22-23, posting a perfect 5-0 record on his way to the 133 lbs. crown.

He opened the tourney by pinning Will Moyet from Trinity at 6:03. He then defeated Kyle Hunsicker from Bridgewater State, 18-6, Tim Bernadt from Coast Guard, 8-3, and Antonio Montes from Johnson & Wales, first by injury default, and then 9-3 in the finals match.

RIC Head Coach Jay Jones, “Mike has been on a mission this year and has been extremely focused towards his goal of claiming a New England Championship. With the team’s success this season, there’s been a lot less pressure on Mike to carry the load. He put himself in a position to succeed both mentally and physically and his success is a direct reflection of his outstanding efforts.”

Although this is Riley’s first New England title, it is his third consecutive season earning All-New England honors. This will be Riley’s second trip to the National Championships, having been selected as a wild-card during his sophomore season (2000-01).

“The first time I went to the National Championships, it was a good learning experience. I’m not just happy to be there this time. I know what to expect and what I need to do to accomplish my goals.”

For the season, Riley is 31-3 at 133 lbs. with 129 points, 131 takedowns, six reversals, 32 escapes, 23 near-falls and two pins. Riley has won his last 13 matches. During the regular season, he placed first at 133 lbs. at the Roger Williams Invitational and second at the Doug Parker Invitational.

Riley says, “After ending last season on a disappointing note, both individually and as a team, it’s really motivated me this year to see a new team with a new attitude and work ethic. We challenged ourselves all season and we could see the improvements each week.”

The Anchormen closed out the 2002-03 campaign with a 14-10 overall record, a 9-6 mark in the NECCWA and won their first-ever Pilgrim Wrestling League title with a 6-0 undefeated record. Jones adds, “It was nice for Mike to win a team championship, something that was missing from his outstanding wrestling resume and it’s a positive way for him to close out his Anchorman career.”

As for Riley, he’s the lone RIC wrestler left with something to prove, and the rest of the country should be on the lookout.

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