Adjusting to Demands of D-I College Wrestling, PHS Alum Bobchin Learning the Ropes at Rider
ROUGH RIDE: Alec Bobchin, top, dominates a foe on his way to winning the Region 5 title at 138 pounds last February in his senior season at Princeton High. Bobchin went on to place fourth at 138 in the NJSIAA State Wrestling Championships. This winter, Bobchin has moved up to the college level at Rider University where he is redshirting, which prohibits him from competing in the Broncs’ dual meets but allows him to wrestle in open tournaments. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Justin Feil
Alec Bobchin equaled the best finish by a Princeton High wrestler ever at the NJSIAA State Wrestling Championships when he placed fourth at 138 pounds last March.
Six months later Bobchin started over when he joined Rider University’s Division I wrestling program.
“When I came into Rider, I was humbled very fast,” said Bobchin. “Going from the best guy in that practice room to coming into Rider and being like everyone else, it’s really pushed me to try to get back to where I want to be.”
It didn’t take long for Bobchin to figure out how different it would be in college. The challenge was laid out immediately.
“First day of preseason,” said Bobchin. “Our first workout. It was hard.”
Bobchin has been adjusting well, however, to a new level of demands and new standards. He is redshirting this year, which prohibits him from competing in Rider’s dual meets, but allows him to wrestle in open tournaments while focusing on building an academic base.
“It’s definitely been a huge adjustment from high school academically and with wrestling,” said Bobchin, who is interested in studying business.
“The workload is more and you have to be a lot more organized. The transition to wrestling has been so different. You go from wrestling high school kids to grown men who have been in college for four or five years.”
So far this winter, Bobchin is 7-8 in open tournaments. He was 140-20 in four years at PHS and improved every year, culminating in his fourth-place finish in the state tournament last year. He’s hoping for similar strides as a college wrestler over his career.
“I think the biggest advantage of this redshirt year is not only getting that fifth year, but it gives me a chance to learn from a lot of the older guys and see what they did that made them so successful,” said Bobchin.
“I can make my mistakes early this year so coming in next year I don’t make those same small silly mistakes. What the older guys and the captains on the team are doing, it helps a lot this year to see how I need to push myself.”
The college wrestling season is long; within days of moving into Rider, Bobchin was joining the wrestling team for workouts and the learning and growing was beginning.
“It was just like nothing I’ve ever done before,” said Bobchin. “We did buddy carries for what felt like 30 minutes. Then we did sprints for what felt like an hour. We were carrying each other around the soccer field.”
The grueling workouts continued in the practice room where Bobchin was further enlightened about the new level compared to high school.
“Even the first wrestling practice,” said Bobchin, “as soon as got in wrestling room, you know the difference. These kids are bigger, stronger, faster, their technique is 10 times better.”
Bobchin has been studying all that he can to compete better for the Broncs in the coming years. He has valued the way that his teammates have helped.
“Early in the season one of the guys that was really pushing me in the room was Travis Layton,” said Bobchin.
“He was a big factor in practice this year pushing me. He’s one of those kids that doesn’t stop wrestling. He’s just go, go, go. He seems like he never gets tired. At 141, Rob Cleary was the starter for us at the time and he worked with me.”
Building up his stamina to go with new skills is a big focus as Bobchin builds for the future. He has started to adapt to his new environment.
“Honestly the biggest adjustment is mentally, at practices being able to tell yourself you’re not tired and can push through this,” said Bobchin.
“Our assistant coach, Nic Bedelyon, he’s big on the mental game and trying to break you at practice and pushing you as hard as he can. He’s trying to get us over that hump.”
As Bobchin has started to realize the rewards for his work, he is already seeing the benefits of going to Rider.
“My mental game has grown tremendously,” said Bobchin. “There’s things I could do now that I never thought I could do before coming to Rider. There are limits that I’ve been pushing myself to that I haven’t been pushed to before in high school.”
That mental side of the sport has helped him on the mat. He has moved up to 149 pounds from 141 but he’s finding success more frequently in practices.
“Recently I’ve noticed I’ve been really hanging with a lot of guys in the room,” said Bobchin, who wrestled at 138 in high school. “It’s been helping me notice that I belong there and that I can really wrestle with these guys.”
Bobchin was thrilled to be able to join such a strong program right in his backyard. He has role models on the team and their standards have challenged him.
“It’s awesome coming into a program that’s so tough,” said Bobchin. “It’s great. I get to see so many solid wrestlers around me that are ready to go out and scrap. Being able to witness guys like Jesse Dellavecchia, Gino Fluri, Ethan Laird go out and wrestle, it’s a great thing to see.”
The Broncs are 9-2 after a 36-6 win over George Mason on Saturday. Rider remains in the top 25 nationally and already owns a win over then-No. 6 Minnesota on November 15 and then-No. 17 Virginia on January 11.
“This team, they work so hard,” said Bobchin. “We all work so hard. It’s earned. We go out and we wrestle hard every match. Watching this team compete against Minnesota, and upset one of the best teams in the country was crazy. It shows how hard Rider works.”
Still keeping track of the PHS team, Bobchin attended a recent quad and remains supportive of a program where he was transformed into a college-ready wrestler.
“I’ve been to a few matches,” said Bobchin. “It’s definitely a growing program. I walked in and I was shocked, there was a line of what looked like 20 kids across the mat. That’s something that Princeton High has never had.”
Developing into an inspiration for the Tigers, Bobchin set a new standard as an individual wrestler and now wrestling in college has only added to his strong reputation.
“I get kids DM-ing me on Instagram that are coming up as freshmen asking me what their goals should be in high school,” said Bobchin. “I remember telling this one kid that their goal should be to beat everything I’ve done.”
Having improved every year at PHS, Bobchin is determined to do the same at Rider. He’s off to a strong start after adjusting to a new level of training and competition and will have the remainder of this season to solidify his improvements. After that, he will head into a busy offseason with a better understanding of what to expect in his second year of college wrestling and an eye to a bright future.
“I definitely want to finish out the next couple tournaments strong and wrestle as tough as I can,” said Bobchin.
“I want to compete in the room and push those guys in the that are trying to get to the NCAA tournament and see what happens from there.”