A New Era for the Bulls: University at Buffalo 2013-14 Season Preview

It’s a new era at Buffalo as former star John Stutzman returned to his alma mater this spring as the Bulls head coach after a successful run as the leader of the Bloomsburg program.

“Things are going well,” Stutzman said. “The administration here is behind wrestling and that’s great.  There’s been a big transition.  The guys have been buying into the philosophy and that’s been awesome.  With the discipline and the kids we brought in, we changed the culture in less than six months. The guys are doing the right things socially and academically.  When that happens, the wrestling piece is that much easier. It’s an exciting time and we’re moving forward.”

The squad welcomed a lot of newcomers – 14 of the 26 wrestlers on the October 30 roster on buffalobulls.com are freshmen with only three seniors.

“I like our youth,” Stutzman said. “The only way the young guys know is our way.  They’ve been ‘all in’ since day 1.  They want to start and be the guy, and that’s created competition in the room.  The young guys have us excited for the future, but our returners have been amazing. Guys like Angelo [Malvestuto], Wally [Maziarz], the Soria brothers [Max and Mike] and others have been great leaders for us.”

Those leaders will help the team through a demanding schedule that begins in Brockport with the Oklahoma Gold tournament.

“Our schedule is very challenging right from the get go,” Stutzman said. “We have a chance to see a perennial top 10 team in Oklahoma to gauge where we’re at right away.  There are a lot of things to be excited about – we’re excited about the MAC conference, which is arguably the second best in the country for wrestling.  We’re also really looking forward to the Iowa match. Anytime you can wrestle at Carver Hawkeye Arena, that’s an exciting time for your program.”

Let’s take a look at who may make an impact for Buffalo in Stutzman’s first year at the helm.

125:

Max Soria, Photo by BV

Max Soria, a two-time NCAA qualifier for the Bulls, is the favorite to start.  The former Kings Park standout led the squad in takedowns a year ago, while finishing second in total wins.  Stutzman mentioned that he’s also pleased with the progress of Hunter transfer Jaydon Rice, a former Pennsylvania state placewinner.

“Max Soria has done awesome,” Stutzman said. “He’s working really hard.  He’s always done well at the MAC championships at the end of the year.  With the way he’s been training, I think he can get off to a faster start than usual, stay consistent and get on the podium at the national tournament. We’re looking for him to be our sparkplug at 125.”

133:

Stutzman said 133 could be a “dogfight” to see who takes the mat for Buffalo among Justin Farmer, a senior who won seven times last season, recent addition Jason Estevez of New Jersey and Mike Soria, who has competed at 125 in previous years for the squad.

“Justin Farmer has been a spot starter for a few years and is entering his fifth year,” Stutzman said. “I’m kind of forcing Mike [Soria] up.  I want to separate the brothers – they’ve been fighting for starting spots since they were little kids.  We’re trying to put weight on Mike and I think he’s bigger than he’s ever been.  I’m happy with the way Mike and Justin are progressing.”

In a recent release about Estevez joining the program, Stutzman said, “Jason will make an immediate impact for us and is capable of winning at a high level right way.”

141:

Another battle could take place at 141, where Northern Illinois transfer Nick Flannery and Erik Galloway will square off.  [Galloway began his college career at Pittsburgh]. Stutzman said that Flannery does have the option to redshirt, but “he wants to scrap.”

“I’m really high on Nick Flannery,” Stutzman said. “He’s had some success, but now we need to try to get him to be consistent throughout the year. He’s technically getting better and he’s really talented. I think he can have a breakout year. We expect big things. Galloway has been a starter and a MAC placewinner. They’ll push each other and hopefully we can get on the podium at this weight.”

149:

Redshirt freshman John Northrup looks like a strong candidate to man this class for the Bulls (although he may begin at 157, according to Stutzman). In addition, several newcomers could push to wrestle in their first year on the Buffalo campus.

“John Northrup has had a good preseason,” Stutzman said. “He’s a Section 5 guy who has been working really hard.  We’ll have some guys behind him like Jake Campana from New Jersey and Ryan Todora, a multi-time placewinner in Pennsylvania.  We’re trying to redshirt those guys but it’s not set in stone yet.”

157:

Wally Maziarz won 23 bouts at this weight last year.  Stutzman said the plan is to have him return to 157, however, it may not be until the second semester. Looking to challenge is Muhammad McBride.

“Wally is big and strong and we’d like to get him to ‘57’ by the second part of the year,” Stutzman said. “He’s a great leader who has been getting better daily.  We’re excited about him. McBride is a really interesting story. He never wrestled in high school but has been wrestling in the club system since he was a little kid. His father wrestled here and he could surprise people. He’s one of those gifted students – graduated from community college at 16.  He wanted to wrestle and is doing a phenomenal job.”

165:

As mentioned earlier, Maziarz will likely be here for at least part of the campaign.  New York medalist Rrok Nkodaj will also fight for the job after coming in from Bloomsburg.  Stutzman said Ryan Therrien from Massachusetts is also in the mix.

“Rrok is a super hard worker with a great attitude,” Stutzman said. “Wally and Rrok have bought in 100% and are unbelievable workers. The best guy will get the nod.”

174:

This is another spot with a number of wrestlers that could make an impact.  Among them are Bloomsburg transfer Tyler Rill, sophomore Jarred Lux and Section 9 alum Austin Weigel.

“We’re really excited about Tyler Rill’s development,” Stutzman said. “He knows how to wrestle – he’s crafty and talented and getting stronger every day. Jarred Lux has had a really good preseason. He was a spot starter last year and he’s really starting to figure it out. He’s getting consistent with his training and believing in himself. Austin Weigel is a true freshman. Those three guys set us up well at ‘65/74’ for a couple of years.”

184:

Tony Lock, a former high school national champion and state titlewinner at Pioneer, saw time at this weight in his rookie year and looks to do so again in 2013-14.  Another wrestler to keep tabs on is Joe Ariola, an Illinois standout.

“Tony Lock is a very talented kid,” Stutzman said. “He had an injury this summer, so he’s getting healthy and his weight’s coming down. I’m looking forward to getting him at his optimal weight class. Joe Ariola is an Illinois state champion who’s really good. He has some accolades and is a tough competitor from a good high school program.  We may redshirt him this year.”

197:

Angelo Malvestuto came back to the Buffalo area last year after beginning his college career at Virginia Tech.  In his initial season with the Bulls, he won 14 bouts.

“Angelo has done an unbelievable job,” Stutzman said. “He has made serious gains these last few weeks.  I’m really excited about his potential.  I think he can be an All-American. Coach [Bryce] Hasseman has done a great job with him. His skill set keeps getting better.

285:

A number of wrestlers could see time at heavyweight for the Bulls this year. Stutzman mentioned freshman Anthony Tufaro and two New York natives – Mike Silvis of Holley and James Benjamin of Vestal as two competitors who could take the mat at either 197 or 285.

“Anthony Tufaro is coming on, but he’s battling some injuries,” Stutzman said. “He probably won’t be ready right away. It could be heavyweight by committee for us this year. I think you’ll see our best lineup more toward January 1.”

Will the Bulls improve upon the four NCAA qualifiers they had in 2013?  How many young wrestlers will contribute to Stutzman’s first Buffalo team?  We’ll see how the squad looks when they hit the mat on November 9 at the Oklahoma Gold tournament.

“As a whole, the team will fight hard and be competitive,” Stutzman said. “We’ll be in great shape. We’re just getting better.  The program is doing the right things; training hard with a great attitude.  We’ll continue to progress daily and get ready for the national tournament.”

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MAC Preview: Host Buffalo Looking to Capture Automatic NCAA Bids on Sunday

 
 
It’s Missouri’s first year in the MAC and the former Big 12 school comes into the conference tournament as the favorite. The Tigers feature six wrestlers pre-seeded #1 with the four other starters all in the top 4 in their classes.

For Buffalo, the host team, a trio of NCAA qualifiers look to return to the biggest tournament of the year.  In the 2012 MAC tournament, Max Soria rode a strong performance to a fourth place finish and a spot at Nationals.  The 125-pound bracket once again has four automatic bids this year and Soria earned the fifth seed.  The field is challenging, led by the nation’s #1 grappler, Alan Waters of Missouri as well as top 20 competitor Christian Cullinan of Central Michigan.  Soria lost 2-0 to Cullinan but hasn’t faced Waters or the other two wrestlers seeded above him, Steve Mitcheff of Kent State and Jared Germaine of Eastern Michigan, this season.  Can he make another strong March run to get back to Nationals?

Lewandowski, Photo by BV

Joining Soria at the NCAAs a year ago was 165-pounder Mark Lewandowski.  To get a guaranteed spot at that event again, the senior, who is 28-6 this season, will need to place first or second.  The Buffalo wrestler received the #3 seed, with Central Michigan’s Mike Ottinger and Missouri’s Zach Toal above him.  He has had a number of tight battles with Ottinger, including a 2-1 loss earlier this campaign. Head coach Jim Beichner felt early on that Lewandowski could make some noise in March, as he did when he came within one victory of All-America status a few years ago.

Another wrestler who could make his presence felt in Des Moines is 174-pounder John-Martin Cannon.  The senior has been hampered with injuries this season, but is looking to make a run in his last weeks of college wrestling.  He is seeded fourth in a class that has qualified five spots for Nationals.  The bracket is full of solid wrestlers, as six different entrants have been in the national rankings at some point this season.

While 174 pounds will send a number of grapplers forward, there is just one automatic slot at 141.  That was earned for the conference by Northern Iowa’s Joey Lazor.  Looking to take that spot away is Buffalo’s Erik Galloway, who moved up from 133 in mid-January.  The transfer from Pittsburgh recently defeated the third seed Kevin Fanta of Northern Illinois.

Another transfer, Angelo Malvestuto (from Virginia Tech), missed a portion of the season, but recently returned to the lineup at 197.  He sits in the #5 position and is looking to finish a few places higher, as the top three advance to Des Moines.

Also aiming to finish high on the podium this weekend for Buffalo will be 149-pounder Blake Ruolo, who was pre-seeded sixth as well as those sitting in the seventh slot for the Bulls – Justin Farmer (133), Wally Maziarz (157), Tony Lock (184) and Justin Heiserman (heavyweight).

Wrestling will begin on Sunday, March 10 with quarterfinal action at 10 a.m. at Alumni Arena on Buffalo’s campus.  The finals are scheduled for 5:20 p.m..

MAC Pre-Seeds Are Released; Galloway, Lewandowski and Cannon in the Top Four for Host Buffalo

(Courtesy of buffalobulls.com)

The following are the pre-seeds for the MAC Championships, which will be held in Buffalo this weekend.  Leading the way for the Bulls are Erik Galloway (#2 at 141), Mark Lewandowski (#3 at 165) and John-Martin Cannon (#4 at 174).  Returning NCAA qualifier Max Soria (125) and Angelo Malvestuto (197) are both pre-seeded fifth.

The full list is below:

125:
1) Alan Waters, Missouri
2) Christian Cullinan, Central Michigan
3) Steve Mitcheff, Kent State
4) Jared Germaine, Eastern Michigan
5) Max Soria, Buffalo
6) Ryan Jauch, Northern Iowa
7) Kevon Powell, Ohio
8)Derek Elmore, Northern Illinois

133:
1) Nathan McCormick, Mizzouri
2) Scotti Sentes, Central Michigan
3) Levi Wolfensperger, Northern Iowa
4) Nick Smith, Northern Illinois
5) Mackenzie McGuire, Kent State
6) Vince Pizzuto, Eastern Michigan
7) Justin Farmer, Buffalo
8)Joey Munoz, Ohio

141:
1) Joey Lazor, Northern Iowa
2) Erik Galloway, Buffalo
3) Kevin Fanta, Northern Illinois
4) Nick Hucke, Missouri
5) Scott Mattingly, Central Michigan
6) Seth Schaner, Eastern Michigan
7) Dillon Kern, Kent State
8)Kagan Squire, Ohio

149:
1) Drake Houdasheldt, Missouri
2) Donnie Corby, Central Michigan
3) Bart Reiter, Northern Iowa
4) Andrew Romanchik, Ohio
5) Rob Jillard, Northern Illinois
6) Blake Roulo, Buffalo
7) Mike Shaw, Eastern Michigan
8)Andrew Candillo, Kent State

157:
1) Kyle Bradley, Missouri
2) David Bonin, Northern Iowa
3) Aaron Sulzer, Eastern Michigan
4) Spartak Chino, Ohio
5) Lucas Smith, Central Michigan
6) Andrew Morse, Northern Illinois
7) Wally Maziarz, Buffalo
8)Tommy Sasfy, Kent State

165:
1) Mike Ottinger, Central Michigan
2) Zach Toal, Missouri
3) Mark Lewandowski, Buffalo
4) Caleb Marsh, Kent State
5) Harrison Hightower, Ohio
6) Jake Davis, Eastern Michigan
7) Sam Bennett, Northern Illinois
8)Jarrett Jensen, Northern Iowa

174:
1) Todd Porter, Missouri
2) Cody Walters, Ohio
3) Sam Wheeler, Kent State
4) John-Martin Cannon, Buffalo
5) Craig Kelliher, Central Michigan
6) Cody Caldwell, Northern Iowa
7) Matt Mougin, Northern Illinois
8)Phillip Joseph, Eastern Michigan

184:
1) Ben Bennett, Central Michigan
2) Ryan Loder, Northern Iowa
3) Mike Larson, Missouri
4) Casey Newburg, Kent State
5) Michael Duckworth, Ohio
6) Khodor Hoballah, Eastern Michigan
7) Tony Lock, Buffalo
8)Bryan Loughlin, Northern Illinois

197:
1) Dustin Kilgore, Kent State
2) Brent Haynes, Missouri
3) Nick Whitenburg, Eastern Michigan
4) Phillip Wellington, Ohio
5) Angelo Malvestuto, Buffalo
6) Parker Settecase, Northern Illinois
7) Taylor Ketteman, Northern Iowa
8)Jackson Lewis, Central Michigan

285:
1) Dom Bradley, Missouri
2) Jarod Trice, Central Michigan
3) Jeremy Johnson, Ohio
4) Blayne Beale, Northern Iowa
5) Jared Torrence, Northern Illinois
6) Keith Witt, Kent State
7) Justin Heiserman, Buffalo
8)Chris Eggert, Eastern Michigan

Former State Champions Announce Transfer Plans: Dutton to Michigan, Malvestuto to Buffalo

Stephen Dutton, Photo by Boris Veysman

Two former New York State champions recently made their transfer destinations official.

On Tuesday, the Dutton family confirmed that Stephen Dutton will be attending the University of Michigan in the fall.  The Rocky Point graduate was a two-time NCAA qualifier at Lehigh and a two-time placer at the EIWA tournament (4th in 2011, 3rd in 2012) at 141 pounds.

During his Mountain Hawk career, Dutton compiled a 42-21 record and made the Round of 12 at the NCAAs as a freshman.

After getting his release from Lehigh, Dutton also considered staying home on Long Island and wrestling for Hofstra before choosing the Wolverines.  He has two years of eligibility as well as a redshirt year remaining.  Dutton plans to stay at 141 pounds.

Dutton won his second state title in 2010, the same year that Niagara-Wheatfield’s Angelo Malvestuto captured his state crown at 189 pounds.  After a pair of seasons at Virginia Tech, Malvestuto recently announced his plans to change schools. He will now join the hometown Buffalo Bulls.

The all-time wins leader at Niagara-Wheatfield redshirted in his first season in Blacksburg and competed at both 184 and 197 pounds during his freshman campaign in 2011-12.  He amassed a 21-13 mark, which included placements at tournaments such as the Harris Open, Nittany Lion Open and Shorty Hitchcock Classic.  At the end of the year, Malvestuto represented Virginia Tech at 184 pounds at the ACC Championships.

The Bulls staff is pleased to welcome the three-time high school All-American back to New York to compete for a starting role in the upperweights.

“Angelo was a proven winner in high school,” said head assistant coach Matt Lackey in a Buffalo press release. “Coming to Buffalo after spending two years at Virginia Tech allows him to make an immediate impact at a weight class where we need him.  One more stepping stone has been added in our climb to the top of the MAC with the addition of Angelo.”