Hempstead, NY - The Hofstra Pride Wrestling team returns to action after a 17-day hiatus this Wednesday, January 16 when they host CAA-foe Rider University at the Mack Sports Complex. Match time is 7 p.m.
The Pride (0-11, 0-1) who have been in the wrestling room since their last competition at the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships in Evanston, Illinois on December 29, will be looking for their first dual match victory of the season against their longtime conference rivals from Rider. Hofstra, which has wrestled one of the toughest schedules in the country, has faced eight top 25 teams so far this season. The Pride has dropped decisions to #1 Minnesota (32-6), #25 Wisconsin (18-13), Bloomsburg (24-10), #10 Oklahoma (36-6), #11 Central Michigan (24-9), #23 Purdue (32-8), #21 Lehigh (34-7), Pennsylvania (21-12), Drexel (22-16), #5 Iowa (42-0) and #4 Ohio State (38-3).
But the Pride do have a little bit of history going for them this week as they start a four-match conference stretch that also includes three contests at the CAA Duals in Fairfax, Virginia this Saturday. Hofstra is 78-7-1 in its last 86 conference dual matches including a 63-match undefeated streak. The seven Pride losses during that time include two against Old Dominion (2008-09 & 2009-10), three against Binghamton (2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12), one against Rider (2009-10) and one against Drexel (2012-13). Hofstra's conference undefeated streak ended at 63 matches (62-0-1) and its 60-match winning streak was snapped in 2009 by ODU. The Pride is also 32-16-2 in its last 50 home matches dating back to the start of the 2003-04 season.
Hofstra has two wrestlers ranked in the latest national polls as junior Luke Vaith is ranked 16th by InterMat, Amateur Wrestling News and WIN Magazine and 19th by the Wrestling Report at 141 pounds. Vaith, the number one ranked wrestler in the CAA at 141 pounds, is 11-9 on the season including 5-6 in dual matches. Senior Steve Bonanno is ranked 19th by InterMat and 20th by the Wrestling Report, AWN and WIN at 125 pounds. Like Vaith, Bonanno is the top-ranked wrestler in the CAA at 125 and is 7-7 on the season. Senior Paul Snyder is the Pride starting grappler with the best record at 12-7 at 285 pounds while sophomore Jermaine John is 10-9 at 174 pounds.
The resumption of action for the Pride will also see some changes to the starting line-up. Senior Tyler Banks (1-1), who has been out with an injury since November, is expected to return to action at 157 pounds against the Broncs Wednesday night. In addition, red-shirt sophomore Cody Ruggirello (1-7) will start at 149 pounds while senior Taras Luzhnyy (1-13) returns to the starting spot at 184.
The Broncs of Rider are 5-4 on the year and begin their CAA season Wednesday night. Rider has wins over Shippensburg (37-3), Lock Haven (19-14), Princeton (32-11), Brown (24-9) and Buffalo (21-16). Their losses have come against Rutgers (25-5), Harvard (24-17), Central Michigan (38-3) and Arizona State (29-16).
Like the Pride, the Broncs have eight grapplers ranked in the CAA rankings led by red-shirt junior Ramon Santiago. Santiago is 19-6 on the season and ranked 16th by AWN. He is ranked third in the CAA at 165 pounds. Classmate James Brundage, who is 11-8 on the year, is second in the CAA at 174 pounds. Sophomore Clint Morrison is 11-10 on the year and is ranked third in the CAA at 184 pounds. Senior Zac Cibula is 15-6 on the season and is ranked third in the CAA at 149.
Hofstra and Rider last met on February 16, 2012 in Lawrenceville, New Jersey with the Pride posting a 26-9 victory. Hofstra also defeated the Broncs in Hempstead during the 2010-11 season, 25-12. The last time Rider defeated Hofstra was February 17, 2010 in Lawrenceville, 21-16. The Pride has defeated the Broncs in 11 of the last 12 meetings dating back to the 1998-99 season.