Riley gears up for New England Championships
by Scott Gibbons, Sports Information Director
In little over a year, Rhode Island College
wrestler Mike Riley has already made an indelible mark on the
wrestling program. Since enrolling at RIC last January, Riley has been
to the Division III National Championships, named All-New England and
has compiled a record of 40-9 at 133 pounds.
This season, with a full year of
preparation and training behind him, the Lowell, Massachusetts native
has taken the New England College Conference Wrestling Association (NECCWA)
by storm and is currently ranked number one in New England in his
Riley is 29-4 and has won his last 18
matches. He leads the team in wins, winning percentage, points and
takedowns. After placing third and fourth, respectively, at the Roger
Williams and Doug Parker Invitationals in November, Riley switched
into high gear. He’s since placed second at the highly competitive
Scranton Invitational and placed first at the Citrus Invitational
during the squad’s trip to Florida after Christmas.
RIC Head Coach Jay Jones is ecstatic to
have Riley on the team. "Because of Mike’s tremendous attitude
and work ethic, he’s truly one wrestler, as a coach, you can feel
tremendous joy during his successes because he really deserves
Despite all of the accolades, Riley
continues to remain humble. "I try to lead by example. I don’t
talk that much. I’m quiet and always try to stay positive."
Even though he’s only been with the
program just over a year, the coaching staff thought highly enough to
name him a captain prior to the 2001-02 season. "I was a little
uneasy about being named a captain. I didn’t want to step on any of
the other guys’ toes that had been here longer than I have. I talked
with the coaches and they wanted me to do it." Coach Jones’
says, "Even though wrestling can be viewed as an individual
sport, Mike has always been dedicated to the team aspect."
The Anchormen are 5-9 overall and 3-3 in
the NECCWA. RIC is coming off a big day at the New England Duals,
finishing the day with a 3-1 record. "We have a young team,"
Riley says. "We’ve faced some adversity and had our share of
tough breaks. It took us 35 hours and three airports to get to Florida
over the holidays and the team still got along great. No one was
complaining. I think that says a lot about this team. The young guys
are learning to compete at the collegiate level and it will payoff
down the road."
As an individual, Riley has been nothing
short of dominant this season and is focused on the upcoming 2002
NECCWA Championships, which will be hosted by Springfield College on
Feb. 16 and 17. He lists his goals as winning the 133-pound weight
class, which carries with it an automatic bid to the National
Championships. "I lost to the guys who placed third and fourth in
the country last season at the NCAAs. I think with a full season under
my belt, and if I can work hard and focus, I’ll be okay."
Despite being in excellent condition, Riley
still sees room for improvement. "I want to get into better shape
and improve my diet. What you eat makes a difference in your
That’s scary news for the rest of New
England, considering Riley hasn’t lost a match since December 1. RIC
Assistant Coach Bob Smith says, "He’s relentless. I almost feel
bad for his opponents….almost!"