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Quinn Kinner: Thriving Despite Early Collegiate Obstacles

Rider's Quinn Kinner at the 2022 NCAA Championships (photo courtesy of Rider athletics)


An obstacle is defined as a thing that blocks one's way or prevents or hinders progress (dictionary.com). Quinn Kinner, a redshirt junior at Rider University, is no stranger to overcoming life's obstacles on and off the mat in an effort to achieve greatness.

Kinner began wrestling at just four years old. "My dad initially introduced me to the sport. My first memory is just a car ride to our new house, where my dad told me and my brother that we would start wrestling. I was too young to even know what it was, but I knew that we were going to start. It's a clear memory that changed my life, for the rest of my life. That four-year-old boy had no idea that wrestling would become so important to him. I was definitely blessed from a young age to be in a big wrestling family, growing up around it being so readily available. My uncle was the Head Director of New Jersey State which allowed me to grow up going to the state tournament being a bout sheet runner. From a young age, I was surrounded by really good people who had high aspirations, and even higher dreams."

That four-year-old little boy didn't realize that he would come to a point in his life where he would eventually love the sport of wrestling. Quinn continued, "Honestly, I wasn't that good in elementary or middle school. Yeah, I was tough, but I always looked at my older brother, Trace, as someone significantly better than I was. It wasn't until my freshman year of high school that I knew I wanted to pursue wrestling much more seriously. Gavin Teasdale and I had a really close match, and after it ended, my brother kept hyping me up and telling me that I was a lot better than I gave myself credit for. From that moment on, I walked into high school with a lot more confidence, which helped to create a culture that I knew I wanted to be a part of. I dropped every other sport and Trace helped me become the best wrestler that I could be."

"I would describe my high school wrestling career in one word, fun. I will remember my team forever. I will remember every single individual kid for the joy that they brought to the sport of wrestling in different ways to me. Not everyone was super committed to becoming a high school state champion or national champion and some kids didn't even want to wrestle at all (they were just there to mess around with their buddies) but, I loved every second of training alongside my team, and my brothers. I can specifically remember every wrestling season and enjoying bonding at dual meets, tournaments, and all the little moments with my teammates and brothers. Trace always preached that to me. I can appreciate how blessed I was with a very strong support system."

Upon graduating from Kingsway Regional High School, Kinner was faced with the tough choice of making a final college decision. When describing what the process was like, Kinner stated, "The recruiting process was crazy and an absolutely insane experience. Trace, my older brother, is probably the most important person in my life as far as role models go and the impact that he's had on me has been crucial to my development and decisions in life. He was a year above me and was recruited by North Carolina State. In high school, he got a bad concussion which messed up his career competitively. So, eventually, he stopped going there. Originally, Coach Frank Beasley was the one who recruited me at North Carolina State, and I had a great relationship with him. To this day, I still do. I committed to NC State with those two bonds already in place, along with my dad's dream of having his sons wrestle at the same university. But, after two weeks, my brother left, and Coach Beasley took the head coaching position at George Mason University which resulted in me de-committing from NC State. There has never been any disrespect towards them, it just wasn't where my head or heart was at the time. I ended up committing to Ohio State, which was always my dream. My heart was always at Ohio State."

While at his dream school, Ohio State, Kinner began to experience obstacles that hindered his progress as a student-athlete. He mentioned, "The first year I got there was my best year. I was surrounded by guys like Joey McKenna, Bo Jordan, Sammy Sasso, Nathan Tomasello, Gavin Hoffman, etc. We were always scrapping and working hard. But, the following summer, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was in a really bad manic depression state, and I started to feel invisible at Ohio State, as if no one really noticed what I was going through. I don't put that blame on anyone because I was good at hiding it when I was with my good friends. I do want to give a shout-out to Sammy Sasso because I remember he called me one time when I really needed it. He said, "Hey man, you seem like you're struggling. If you ever need to call someone, please call me." I appreciate that because I was in a really bad spot with my mental state for a while."

"When I returned after summer, I never really got out of the hole. I went into a drinking mindset. I remember thinking to myself "I am invisible, and I am going to do whatever makes me happy in the current moment." At the time, I wasn't looking for long-term satisfaction or joy. I wasn't looking for anything that would bring me true joy in life. I was looking for a quick and easy fix. Honestly, I was drinking a lot and was always at the bars. At one point, I literally had a job at the bars. At the end of the day, it was a bad environment for me there. Again, there is no disrespect towards Coach Ryan or Coach Jaggers. I went to a big school, and I disappeared. I got into mental struggles, and I didn't handle them well."

After being diagnosed with bipolar depression and his mental health struggles, Kinner knew that removing himself from his environment was going to be the hardest decision he had to make, but it would eventually be the catalyst he needed to succeed both on and off the mat. Kinner explained, "Leaving Ohio State was one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do. I was leaving behind brothers that I would have for the rest of my life. Every single one of them knows that they will forever be a part of my family. I still have a good relationship with Coach Ryan and Coach Jaggers. The decision was all me. I wasn't mature enough, and I lost my love for wrestling. Growing up, my goal, was never to be a national champion because it wasn't really in my mind's eye. I started to focus on other things at Ohio State, and I admittedly lost track of what was important. I lost my love of wrestling, and I went on a bad path. When I left Ohio State, mentally, I was done with wrestling. I planned to quit and go home. But, when I started living with my brother, he slowly brought me back out onto the mat, and my love for wrestling began to spark once again."

Rider's Quinn Kinner (photo courtesy of Rider athletics)

With that spark ignited once again, Kinner discusses how he eventually ended up at Rider University, "I had talked with Coach Hangey and Coach Bedelyon prior to committing to Rider University and returning to the mat. Both of my parents had a connection to Rider; my dad has always had a great relationship with Coach Hangey and my mom went to high school with his wife. As a believer in God, it felt like there was an instant connection for me. We had one conversation and I immediately knew that Coach Hangey would be like a father figure to me at Rider; someone I could lean on and a mentor that I needed. After my conversation with Coach Hangey, I was still on the fence and didn't truly know if I wanted to wrestle collegiately again, but it only took Coach Bedelyon five minutes to piss me off enough to come back and wrestle. He talked to me about being the best wrestler, and that I was the man. He believed in me and told me that I could do it. Eventually, I said, "Dude, you're right. Let's freaking go!" There is one thing that has always stuck out to me that Coach Bedelyon said, and I'll never forget it, "Right now, and for the last year, you've been a bum. In one year, you're going to come back and win the MAC, and then you're going to win an NCAA title." That was all I needed to hear, and I was ready to be a Bronc."

Nic Bedelyon, Assistant Coach at Rider University, talked about the recruiting process for Kinner. "We recruited Quinn right out of high school. We watched him at states, he came down to our club a few times, and we often saw him down at a club in South Jersey. Our staff got to know him very well, and I even had the opportunity to roll around with him early on. I knew from the first time that he scrapped that he had "it." He had an edge to him that you can't teach. Originally, he ended up committing to Ohio State, but found out through a few different people that Quinn wasn't happy at Ohio State and wanted to come back home. When Quinn entered the portal, we called him in less than two minutes. Our coaching staff knew that Quinn was going to make a great addition to our program."

Kinner, a 2022 MAC Champion, fulfilled many of the words in which Coach Bedelyon stated almost one year prior. Throughout his time at Rider University, Kinner has successfully climbed to a leadership role in the Broncs program. When asked about his current goals for himself and his team, and the role that he plays at Rider, he said, "My main goal right now is to lead through everything that I've learned. I've been in college for four years now, and we have a crazy young team (18, 19, and 20). I've experienced the highs and lows. I've been at the Covelli Center vs. Penn State. I've done all of those things that our guys dream about doing. I can lead by the experience of knowing what it takes to win through my actions. I came back with both Coach Hangey and Coach Bedelyon believing in me, and they still do. They put absolutely everything they have into me, and I would do the same for them. Now, my biggest role is to show the rest of my team how we need to act and how hard we need to work each and every day."

"My biggest role, and the main thing that I preach day in and day out, is the expectations my teammates should have for themselves. These guys are undoubtedly good enough and work hard enough to win a national title. Coach Hangey and Coach Bedelyon are two of the best wrestling coaches in the country, and this is a good enough team to have ten guys in the NCAA's, multiple All-Americans, and an overall high-ranking team. They need to expect to do it. Additionally, one of my other main jobs is to tell them every single day that they are going to be national champions. I want to show them the same beliefs that my coaches have shown me. I know what their belief did for me in a forty-minute phone call. I am going to give that to my teammates every single day. That's my whole job. Wait, one more thing… and to bring Coach Hangey and Coach Bedelyon an NCAA championship."

Coach Bedelyon explained Kinner's role in the Broncs program by saying, "Quinn was the "new guy" this year, but even then, he had no problem coming in and stepping into a leadership role. Right away, the kids on the team respected him because he was a two-time New Jersey state champion. Quinn has a great personality and his teammates love being around him. Quinn makes people better just by being around them and being the guy everyone can lean on for advice. No matter what, win or lose, Quinn is out there coaching the other guys on the team. You can't miss him. He loses his voice every dual because of his immense passion for the sport of wrestling."

Rider's Quinn Kinner (photo courtesy of Rider athletics)

Bedelyon continued, "Quinn just needed someone that believed in him and to tell him that he could be an NCAA champion. I tell him every single day that he can win. Coach Hangey and I believe in Quinn 100% and know that he has what it takes. He told us that growing up his goal was to be a state champion, and that's a lot of kids' goals. He did that, not once, but twice. He said that once he got to college, of course, he wanted to win an NCAA title, but prior to that, it was never something he thought about. For some time, he lost that drive and purpose. When you lose that drive at the next level, oftentimes you get passed up. You don't always have to go to the best program or the biggest school to succeed. The most important thing is to go somewhere that makes you happy. You have to surround yourself with coaches and teammates that believe in you and push you to be a better wrestler, and person. That was what Quinn needed."

With Kinner's explosive entrance into the MAC, he proved himself to be a competitive force of nature. Kinner explained the following about why he stands out amongst his counterparts in the MAC, "Honestly, I'm going to say this, and it might sound cocky, but I don't think that I have even wrestled up to who I am in any of my matches this past wrestling season. I have so much more to give, and Coach Bedelyon knows that and is pulling every single bit out of me every single day. When I come back next year and compete for Rider, I will be back with a much more competitive mindset. But what makes me different are the expectations I have for myself. I don't expect myself to lose to anyone in the country. When I step out on the mat against anybody, I know that I'm going to win that match. I've worked just as hard as these guys, if not harder, and I want it more than most of them. I am obsessed with the sport of wrestling, and there is nothing that I enjoy more than watching, listening, and talking to Coach Bedelyon about wrestling."

Kinner continued, "My mindset sets me apart from the rest of my competition, and the fact that I freaking love to wrestle! I feel like God has put me in my purpose, and I'm living out my purpose right now. I am here with this young team at Rider, and I have the opportunity to help lead. I want to be the first NCAA champion. Like Deion Sanders said, "Don't let your insecurity be offended by my confidence." I am surrounded by the number one biggest psychopath in the MAC. I know that I am never going to wrestle anyone that is scarier than Nic Bedelyon. This year, there wasn't a single ounce of fear wrestling Nick Lee. I may not have beaten him, and I will give respect where respect is due because Nick is a monster on the mat, but after wrestling Coach Bedelyon every day, he gives you the respect of beating the hell out of you, day in and day out. There is no one that scares you."

Looking ahead to the future, Kinner has his sights set on a national championship for Rider University. When asked to speak on his future at Rider and what he would like wrestling fans to know, he said, "I love to wrestle. I love the wrestling community. I love the people that we are surrounded by all the time. 95% of the people that I wrestle end up becoming my friends. I want wrestling fans to know that I am thankful for the way that my life has been changed. I am grateful for the fact that I have been embraced by the wrestling community in so many ways. Maybe not everyone has accepted me back, but the people that I've met along the way and talked to have inspired me. Again, I am thankful and am going to do everything in my power until the day that I can no longer wrestle."

Kinner then addressed Rider fans, "I want them to know that the best is yet to come. This season is not an indication of anything that is to come for this young team. Rider fans should be really excited about the future. We are doing a lot of great things this offseason and we have a lot of guys on our team that are truly dedicated to the sport. As I've said before, Rider has two of the best coaches in the country and the only thing on my mind is getting this team a national championship and multiple individual national titles."

Coach Bedelyon commented on Kinner's remarks, "Quinn is the man. This year, we got really close to a national championship. We spent a lot of time training together, and he's been putting in a lot of time during this off-season. Quinn has two years of eligibility left and I know that one day, Quinn will be on the top of the podium. I truly believe that, and I know Quinn won't stop until that dream becomes a reality." Then, Coach Bedelyon mentioned, "A few more things about Quinn. He can talk to anyone, he's not shy. He is also a 76ers fan, even though they lost during the second round of the playoffs. But, on a more serious note, Quinn was born to be a leader. We have a lot of young guys on our team, so we expect him and his teammates to take over. Next year, we return five NCAA qualifiers and have a great recruiting class. The future of Rider wrestling is bright."

More About Bipolar Disorder:

According to singlecare.com, bipolar disorder, formally known as manic depression, is a mood disorder that causes radical shifts in mood, energy, and the ability to carry out everyday tasks. People with bipolar disorder experience periods of intense emotions and changes in behavior, called "mood episodes," which can last days to weeks.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, visit National Institute of Mental Health or call 1-800-273-TALK.

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Keyser Soze (3) about a month ago
Quinn, I'm glad you were able to get everything in order. I was hoping you were going to find yourself at Ohio State and become a champ there, but I'm happy for you and good luck in the future.... Unless you wrestle a Buckeye.
les (1) about 3 weeks ago
Miss you as a Buckeye, but once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye. Good luck and have a great season, but not against us.