Monday night provides a unique opportunity to fans in the Buffalo area – the chance to watch one of the storied programs in college wrestling come to town for an exciting dual as well as the chance to contribute to a great cause.
At 7:00 p.m. the #5 Iowa Hawkeyes will visit the hometown Bulls for the annual “Takedown Cancer” dual meet which will benefit a number of cancer-related charities.
Buffalo first got involved a few years ago to benefit former Bulls wrestler Jeff Parker, who was battling melanoma at the time. While he passed away in 2010, the team’s involvement has continued. This year, according to head coach Jim Beichner, the funds raised will be donated to the Jeff Parker Foundation, Carly’s Club and to a family or families in the area with a child currently battling cancer.
Beginning at 5 p.m. there will be a number of fundraising activities, including auctions including 60-80 items, according to Beichner. The purchase of a $10 raffle ticket earns entry into the drawing for the grand prizes, which are two round trip Delta plane tickets to anywhere in the continental United States, four tickets to Jim Kelly’s suite at the upcoming Buffalo Bills-New York Jets game and a dinner for 10 at a popular local restaurant, Ilio DePaolo’s.
The Bulls are hoping to exceed last year’s fundraising total of $23,000. However, they aren’t losing sight of what they need to do – battle the Hawkeyes.
“We think this is going to be a great fundraiser,” Beichner said. “But we remember that we’re there to wrestle Iowa. We’re there as a team to compete and everything else happening is a wonderful bonus. It’s a great sign for our program to have a Big 10 or Big 12 team in our home gym for the third year in a row. Iowa’s probably the most dominant program in the last 30 years or so and we are proud to have them come to Buffalo.”
The Hawkeyes went 2-0 at the Grapple at the Garden, to push their 2012-13 record to a perfect 10-0. Eight of their starters sit in the Top 20 nationally.
Beichner said his group is looking forward to the challenge.
“We know they’re a great team,” he said. “We think we’ll have some very competitive match ups. I expect a full effort from every guy. The Hawkeye symbol shouldn’t matter. We need to have the mindset when we step out on the mat that we’ll win.”
Leading the way for the Bulls are nationally-ranked seniors Mark Lewandowski and John-Martin Cannon. Lewandowski is 13-2 at 165 pounds this year after a one-point loss to Mike Ottinger of Central Michigan in the team’s first dual meet of the season.
“Mark is wrestling very well,” Beichner said. “He lost on a penalty point and you hate to see a match between two good wrestlers decided that way on a late call. He wrestled an aggressive match – he was by far the more aggressive wrestler. He has the right mindset and will respond.”
Cannon has seen limited action due to a number of setbacks this season. He was out early in the campaign while recovering from an injury and in his first bout back, he was hit in the face, suffering a broken nose and a concussion. However, he returned and notched a victory against Central Michigan.
“[Cannon] is getting back to 100%,” the coach said. “He looks really good and he’ll be a threat no matter who he wrestles.”
A third grappler Beichner singled out was 197 pounder Angelo Malvestuto, who he said “wrestled extremely well” against the Chippewas. He expects those wrestlers and others to step up in front of the hometown crowd.
“We’re really excited about [Monday],” Beichner said. “The thing we really want to promote is that we’re having the University of Iowa in our home gym. It’s our opportunity to wrestle well against great opponents. That’s what’s so important for our program.”
To find out more about the organizations involved in this event: