On Thursday night, the college season officially started. But for a number of New York teams and wrestlers, the 2012-13 campaign begins on Sunday at the Buffalo Invitational, which includes competitors from the host school, Army, Ohio State, Kent State, Bloomsburg, Edinboro and the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club, among others. The following preview takes a look at each weight, both at some of the top wrestlers registered, and a New York storyline or two worth watching.
Nikko Triggas, who was an All-American for Ohio State in 2011, makes his return to collegiate wrestling after an Olympic redshirt year in which he focused on Greco Roman. The wrestler who manned the 125 spot for the Buckeyes in his absence last year, Johnni DiJulius, is also in the field after earning a bid to the NCAA tournament as a true freshman in 2012. Joining DiJulius in St. Louis last March was Long Island native Max Soria of Buffalo.
New York Story to Watch: Max Soria had a strong run in the MAC tournament to earn his automatic bid to the NCAAs as a freshman. He’ll try to build off that experience for the Bulls, where his competition will not only be from wrestlers like Triggas and DiJulius but also from his twin brother Mike Soria, who is also vying for the starting nod for the Bulls.
There are two NCAA champions entered in the Buffalo Invitational and Logan Stieber is one of them. The Buckeye returns to the mat after his exciting victory over Jordan Oliver a year ago in the NCAA title bout. On his way to that championship, Stieber defeated Army’s Jordan Thome, who is also scheduled to be in the field on Sunday.
New York Stories to Watch: Fans of New York high school wrestling can see the college debut of 2012 New York state champion Sam Recco of Lyndonville, who will hit the mat for Edinboro.
Another heralded newcomer at this weight is Finger Lakes Wrestling Club’s Mark Grey, who piled up accolades at Blair Academy as well as in the international styles.
There was a lot of talk in the wrestling world last week about former Warsaw High School standout Ian Paddock‘s 7-2 victory over All-American Hunter Stieber at the Ohio State wrestle-offs. The Buckeyes could meet again on Sunday.
New York Stories to Watch: Two New York wrestlers will try to disrupt the rematch between Paddock and Stieber. Former MAC champion Andrew Schutt is back after a redshirt year and looks to move up the national rankings. In addition, Connor Hanafee will look to make an impact after a convincing win at Army’s Black/Gold Match last week. [NCAA qualifier Tyler Small is also entered].
Cam Tessari and David Habat battled as freshmen a year ago, with Habat coming out on top in an overtime affair. Tessari got the upper hand in March, however, reaching the podium with a fourth place showing. Joining the mix will be Army’s Daniel Young who was off to a hot start in 2011-12 before suffering a season-ending injury. Black Knights head coach Joe Heskett said he believed Young was on track to make the NCAAs and do some damage. He’ll likely have a chance to battle some top talent this weekend. Blake Roulo of Buffalo also looks to be in the running.
New York Stories to Watch: Alex Cisneros won three California state titles and will make his college debut at 149 pounds for the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club. Fellow Intermat Top 100 recruit from the Class of 2012, two-time New York titlewinner Jimmy Kloc (Buffalo), will compete in college for the first time.
Josh Demas and Mallie Shuster saw quite a bit of each other a year ago with Shuster winning their first two bouts and Demas taking the third at the NCAAs. They will be joined by Shuster’s Kent State teammate Ian Miller, who was an impressive 28-5 in his rookie campaign at 149.
New York Story to Watch: This weight class could provide a great opportunity to see what some of the Empire State’s best look like as they begin their careers on the college level. Four of last year’s New York state champions are registered at 157 – Brian Realbuto and Dylan Palacio for the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club, Chris Nevinger for Buffalo and Tyler Button for Edinboro. They won titles in 2012 for Somers, Long Beach, Letchworth Central and Phoenix, respectively.
Mark Lewandowski (Buffalo) and John Greisheimer (Edinboro) were both within one victory of being All-Americans at 157 pounds at the 2011 NCAA tournament. Greisheimer logged a quality redshirt year with wins over NCAA participants such as Daniel Kolodzik, Joey Napoli, Jake O’Hara and Donnie Corby. Lewandowski dealt with some injuries in 2011-12, according to his coaches, but head coach Jim Beichner is very optimistic about what a healthy Lewandowski can accomplish on the national stage. Lewandowski and Greisheimer could be on a collision course, with highly touted Ohio State freshman Mark Martin another grappler to keep tabs on.
New York Stories to Watch: Justin Lozano spent most of his first year as an NCAA wrestler at 174 pounds before moving up to 184 for the end of the season. Now, he’s headed in the opposite direction – moving down to 165. His first matches at the new weight will be a story to watch. In addition, the second Simaz brother in the Empire State, Taylor, will begin his college career. One of his coaches is older brother and NCAA champion Cam Simaz.
John-Martin Cannon took fourth at the Midlands last year during a redshirt season that Beichner called perhaps the best he’s seen from a Buffalo wrestler. He’ll have a chance to make another statement with All-American Nick Heflin of Ohio State in the bracket.
New York Story to Watch: Buffalo’s Jake Waste had a strong rookie year, going 24-9 after starting at 184 and moving down to 174. In fact, he was 17-4 at the lower weight and will look to get ready for a full year at that class.
Casey Newburg won 30 matches as the starter for Kent State last year, including a major decision against Vic Avery of Edinboro. Avery is also taking part in the Buffalo Invitational after winning more than 20 matches in his first season of college wrestling. Making his return after sustaining a season-ending injury early in the 2011-12 campaign is Army’s Collin Wittmeyer. Ohio State freshman Kenny Courts was one of the top recruits in the country a few years ago.
New York Stories to Watch: Tony Lock, an undefeated state and national champ from Pioneer, will get some early tests from the aforementioned wrestlers as will Phoenix graduate Austyn Hayes, who took third at 195 pounds in his final season for the Firebirds in 2011-12. Another first year college wrestler worth following is Michigan state champion Gabe Dean, who will be making his first start for the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club.
The second NCAA champion signed up to wrestle is Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore. He will have a pair of Buckeyes to contend with in his first action back after an Olympic redshirt year. Andrew Campolattano made the Round of 12 in his freshman season, while teammate Cody Magrum has represented Ohio State at both 184 and 197 during his career.
New York Stories to Watch: After two years in the ACC with Virginia Tech, Angelo Malvestuto returned to his home state as a transfer to Buffalo. He bolsters the Bulls lineup and looks to compile wins right away. In addition, a wrestler Army head coach Joe Heskett spoke very highly of in the preseason, Bryce Barnes, will get started for the Black Knights.
A pair of New York natives head the field at heavyweight, with Peter Capone (Johnson City) coming off a successful campaign for the Buckeyes that included a runner up finish at the prestigious Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas. Edinboro’s Ernest James (Longwood) is looking for a strong follow up to his 30-12 campaign for Edinboro in which he beat NCAA bronze medalist Mike McMullan of Northwestern. (Capone won an early December one-point match over James in overtime). A darkhorse may be Kent State’s Keith Witt, who picked up more than 25 victories for the Golden Flashes at 197 pounds and has made the move up to the heaviest class.
New York Stories to Watch: Justin Heiserman competed at 197 in his rookie season for the Bulls, but has made the transition up to 285 for his sophomore year. Meanwhile, Oney Snyder, who was the Cornell starter for a portion of the 2010-11 season, will look to get off to a strong start to his senior campaign.
New York Wrestling News plans to post match videos after the event. Please check back later.
** The article was written according to the event’s registration as of the morning of November 2