Jim Beichner Will Not Return as Buffalo Head Coach

 
 
Courtesy of buffalobulls.com

BUFFALO, NY – University at Buffalo Director of Athletics Danny White has announced today that Jim Beichner will not be returning as head wrestling coach next season.

“This was a very difficult decision and we appreciate all that Coach Beichner has done for UB wrestling in his 18 years of service,” White said. “After a comprehensive evaluation of the program, we concluded it was time to move in a new direction. We are committed to winning Mid-American Conference championships at the University at Buffalo and believe a leadership change in wrestling is necessary at this time. Coach Beichner served as a fine role model to our student-athletes and we are grateful for all he has done in the continued development of our wrestling program.”

White confirmed a national search will commence immediately.

Hall of Famer Al Bevilacqua: NY's Influence Powerful From the Sidelines to the Mat

 

BY AL BEVILACQUA

At the NCAA tournament in Des Moines, the eyes of wrestling fans will be fixed on Cornell’s Kyle Dake as he aims to make history by winning his fourth championship at his fourth different weight class without the benefit of a redshirt. To do so, he will likely have to beat returning Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor of Penn State for the third time this season and fourth this calendar year (if the All-Star Dual and the Olympic Trials are counted).

Dake, a Lansing native, has been a bright star for New York wrestling over the past several years but he won’t be the only Empire State representative threatening to make waves in Iowa. For example, his former training partner at the Shamrock Wrestling Club, Donnie Vinson of Binghamton, will be in the mix at 149 pounds after taking third there a year ago.

If history is any indication, they will be among the many New Yorkers on the podium. According to data from wrestlingstatistics.com, the Empire State ranks eighth among all states since 1961 in most individual national champions (24) and seventh in total titles (32). Last year, 26 New York natives took the mat at Nationals in St. Louis, the third most of any state behind Pennsylvania and Ohio and produced the third most All-Americans (six).

Simply put, there’s no question that New York is one of the top players on the NCAA scene.

But perhaps less appreciated is another way New York is making its presence felt. And that’s on the sidelines.

Tom Ryan, Courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com

From Tom Ryan’s young team in Buckeye Country to Steve Garland (Virginia) and Kerry McCoy (Maryland) in the ACC, the impact of the tough wrestling taught in this state is felt around the country.

And that’s just part of the story. A number of other programs are led by those who grew up in the Empire State, including Buffalo (Jim Beichner), North Carolina State (Pat Popolizio), Duke (Glen Lanahan), Columbia (Carl Fronhofer), Boston (Carl Adams) and Cal Poly (Brendan Buckley, who spent some time in New York). In addition, both Bloomsburg’s John Stutzman and Hofstra’s Rob Anspach did their college wrestling in the Empire State (at Buffalo and Hofstra, respectively).

Remember, there are less than 80 head coaching positions in Division I . . . and there are 49 states with wrestling. But a lot of leadership seems to be emerging from New York.

Kyle Dake will complete his Big Red career as one of the greats on the big stage.

But he will be only one of the New Yorkers to make headlines at NCAAs this year and in years to come.

Here Come the Hawkeyes: Iowa Visits Buffalo for Annual Takedown Cancer Fundraiser

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.

Mark Lewandowski, Photo by BV

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:

Jeff Parker Foundation

Carly’s Club

 

Buffalo Head Coach Jim Beichner Discusses the Lineup, Schedule and More for 2012-13

NCAA photos by Boris V

Buffalo featured a young team a year ago, as 10 freshmen took the mat for the squad in dual meets during the season.  At the end of the campaign, the Bulls sent two wrestlers – Max Soria (125) and Mark Lewandowski (165) to the NCAA tournament.  Both qualifiers will be back, as will former NCAA participants who redshirted a year ago (John-Martin Cannon and Andrew Schutt).  With the addition of some impact transfers and a solid recruiting class, Coach Jim Beichner and his staff are looking for big things in 2012-13.

Beichner talked to New York Wrestling News about his team’s outlook, beginning with a look at the potential lineup.

125 PoundsMax Soria returns after his NCAA appearance a year ago.  But he has some competition – notably from his twin brother Mike, as well as Ryan Howes, a Division III transfer.

Coach Beichner: “Max is the frontrunner based on last season, but his twin brother Mike is also there.  Both are very talented and train together all the time.  We’ll have to see how that shakes out when the UB Invitational comes about.  It’s interesting with them – they’re what they call ‘mirror twin’ brothers, which is extremely rare.  If you look in the mirror, everything about them is exactly opposite.  It probably would confuse some people – one wrestles with a right leg lead, one left leg lead. I expect both to see time on the mat and Howes may as well.”

133 PoundsJustin Farmer is back after holding the 133 job in 2011-12 but he will be challenged by former 125 starter Sean Walton and Pittsburgh transfer Erik Galloway.

Coach Beichner:  “Justin Farmer would probably tell you that he didn’t have the kind of year we expected.  He’s a great kid and a really hard worker who is easy to root for.  We’ll have to wait and see because two other guys are vying for the spot.  Walton will certify at 125 but will be up at 133 at least at the beginning of the season.  He’s been a starter for us and won some matches, including a big match at the Binghamton dual meet.  He cut a lot of weight in the past and we want to see what he will look and feel like up a weight.  Galloway is a redshirt sophomore who is talented and may turn out to be the guy.  It’s a good situation to have.”

141 Pounds – One of Buffalo’s most successful all-time wrestlers, Kevin Smith, graduated after manning this spot a year ago.  However, the Bulls will once again be strong in this class with the return of 2011 MAC champion Andrew Schutt, who redshirted last season.  Freshmen such as Tyler Newton and John Northrup may wrestle at this weight (or 149).

Coach Beichner: “Kevin Smith was a great soldier for us. He cut weight for four years and we wanted him going for his doctorate in physical therapy last year feeling healthy. So we made the decision for him to go 141 and we were fortunate to be able to redshirt a guy like Schutt.  Schutt is a guy we expect to do extremely well.  He’s very dangerous.  That’s worth repeating – very dangerous. He’s probably one of the strongest kids in the program and with the power he has, he can pin you in a number of different ways. We’re really happy to have him back.”

149 PoundsBlake Ruolo, a four-time champion at the NHSCA Nationals while in high school, went 22-13 in his first season at the college level.   Another accomplished recruit, two-time New York state champion Jimmy Kloc from Iroquois, could push to get on the mat as well.

Coach Beichner: “Blake had a good offseason.  Like a lot of freshmen, he had a difficult transition to college, but he seems to have made a lot of adjustments.  His progress over the summer puts him as the guy to beat this weight class. I think he should be ready to step up.  Jimmy Kloc is one of the most talented kids we’ve ever recruited.  He’ll need to make the transition to the grind, the training with a group of athletes that are better.  It’s so different from being the king of the room, where you can beat everyone, even when you’re a small guy.  We’ll probably wind up redshirting Jimmy to let him get a year under his belt, but if he’s the best guy, he’ll be in the lineup.”

157 Pounds – This will be another competitive weight for the Bulls with a few experienced wrestlers and a young standout in the mix. Wally Maziarz, who captured 13 wins in 2012, will be a sophomore for the Bulls.  He will try to hold onto the spot while former RIT transfer Dom Montesanti, Massachusetts native Matt Dehney, Oklahoma transfer Clay Reeb and rookie Chris Nevinger, a three-time New York state champion, enter the fray.

Coach Beichner:  “I consider Wally Maziarz to be a workhorse.  He didn’t achieve what he wanted to in high school.  In fact, he he didn’t qualify for the states even though he was good enough to be there.  He became such a driven athlete because of that. Last year, he did whatever he could for the team.  He had some flashes of brilliance and he had some flashes of not so great too.  He needs to stay toward the brilliance.

Montesanti is a competitor – wiry, gangly and kind of unorthodox.  You never know what you’ll get, but he’s very capable.  We also have guys like Matt Dehney and Clay Reeb, who have wrestled some good matches.  And there’s Nevinger.  He’s a perfect fit for this weight class — great credentials and very strong.  He’s at the beginning of the learning curve, acclimating to Division I wrestling.  He has all the talent and abilities and it’s a matter of time before he’s out there competing for us.”

165 Pounds: Mark Lewandowski made the Round of 12 in 2011 at NCAAs, leading eventual national champion Bubba Jenkins late into the third period of their match.  He won 32 bouts while dealing with injuries in 2012, and looks to finish his career on a high note.  Jeff Palmeri may see time at this weight or at 174 and freshman Ryan Therrien is doing some good things in open rooms, according to Beichner. Former Top 100 recruit Jake Waste, who wrestled at 174 and 184 last year and went 24-9, is making the transition to 165 as a redshirt in 2012-13.

Coach Beichner: “Lewandowski has been an extremely good leader for us.  He’s a solid student, a hard worker and a good person. I can’t say enough good things about him, but I would like to be able to add “All-American” to his description because he’s good enough.  He had Bubba Jenkins beat two years ago in the Round of 12 match.  With about a minute left, he got cemented and pinned right on the edge. He moved up a weight last year and had some injuries that kept haunting him.  We hope he’s through those injuries because a healthy Mark Lewandowski can beat anyone.”

174 PoundsJohn-Martin Cannon took a redshirt for Buffalo and had a lot of success, including a fourth place finish at the Midlands and around 35 wins, according to Beichner.  Expectations are very high for his final college season.

Coach Beichner:  “[Cannon’s] redshirt year was phenomenal.  He finished higher at Midlands than any athlete we’ve ever had and I think I would say it was the best redshirt year we’ve seen.  When we looked at last year’s rankings and the wins he had, we think he would have been seeded in the top 7 at the NCAAs last year.  I know quite a few other coaches were talking about how impressed they were with him.  We have complete confidence in him.  Working with [assistant coach] Matt Lackey has been a big difference maker and we believe he’s capable of placing high this year.”

184 PoundsTony Lock completed his career at Pioneer High School with an undefeated state championship season and then topped it off by capturing the title at the NHSCA Senior Nationals.  A Top 100 recruit according to Intermat, Lock will suit up for Buffalo as a freshman.

Fellow first-year grappler Jarred Lux, a Pittsburgh native who has impressed the staff, may see time at 174 or 184 while Justin Lozano, who competed as a rookie last season despite some injuries, will take a redshirt.  Beichner raved about Lozano’s work ethic and expects him to make an impact in the future.

Coach Beichner:  “Tony Lock is a great kid and he’s deceiving for a big guy. He moves like a small guy when he’s tested and pushed. He’s also a really smart wrestler with great mat sense.  There will be a transition but we expect him to do well.  He came in during the summer, took a course and trained for six weeks.  He came a long way even during that time.  We’re really excited about him.”

197 Pounds – Virginia Tech transfer Angelo Malvestuto will fit in immediately at 197 after winning over 20 matches for the Hokies a year ago.  Zach Ward will compete as well although he also may see time down at 184 pounds.

Coach Beichner: “We struggled a little because of youth at 197 last year.  I’m happy to say that we picked up Angelo, who will be a sophomore.  We think he’ll be an impact player for us right away.  The nice thing is that he can go out and score bonus points for your team and we consider 197 to be a critical weight class for bonus points.”

285 Pounds – Three wrestlers are in the mix to start at heavyweight – veteran Jedd Mason, sophomore Justin Heiserman and Joe Manna.

Coach Beichner:  “Jedd Mason has been a starter and while he hasn’t had the kind of career he wanted, he has the opportunity to step up and make a difference.  Heiserman had good credentials out of high school but throwing him into a schedule like ours at 197 was a challenge.  He’s up around 250-255 pounds now.  He looks like a heavy and wrestles like one.  Joe Manna transferred in after playing football.  He’s working his way back, but isn’t ready for the starting lineup yet.”

A few more questions . . .

You’ve had successful Takedown Cancer events in recent years.  This season’s Takedown Cancer dual will feature Buffalo against Iowa. How did that come about?

“Coach [Tom] Brands and I had been swapping calls for a while.  We were scheduled to go out there to Iowa this year but something happened and it wasn’t going to happen.  Brands is true to his word, though, and since the change happened on their end, he decided to bring his team to our place this year.  We’re looking forward to having the Hawkeyes here in Western New York.   It continues a recent trend that we want to keep of having top teams come into our facility.

We’re also really happy Iowa will be here for the Takedown Cancer dual.  We hope the community shows up in large numbers for that match.  It won’t only be a great day of wrestling but it will be raising money for one or two families who have a child with cancer.   We’ve been able to give thousands of dollars to families in the past so that they can afford to support their child as the child goes through cancer treatments.  We want people to embrace the cause – fill the stands, buy tickets and raffles.  Doing the Takedown Cancer fundraisers has changed my perspective on life and I think if people come to the Iowa match they will feel extremely good knowing the money they spent allowed them to see great wrestling but more importantly went into the pockets of people who really need the help.”

What are some of the other highlights of the schedule?

Coach Beichner: “In the past, critics said our schedule wasn’t strong enough, but we’ve changed that.  I think it’s the most challenging dual meet season we’ve ever put together.  We want our guys to embrace it and win with this schedule and we believe we can.

We’re looking forward to the UB Open, which we’ve turned into an invitational. We will run it like Midlands where redshirts are allowed to pay their own way and transportation, but we will have a team score. It’s new for us and exciting.

We’ll be taking five guys to Midlands while the rest will go to the Lock Haven Invitational.  We want our studs to be at tournaments like the Midlands and after that we’ll be at the Virginia Duals.  We were eighth and seventh the past two years at Virginia Duals and we think we can do a lot better.”

What are some of your team’s goals this year?

Coach Beichner:  “Our goals really don’t change that much from year to year, truthfully.  We want MAC champions and we want All-Americans.  We haven’t had enough All-Americans.  I’d love to see a guy like Cannon on the stand this year, right up to the #1 spot.  I’d love to see the same for Mark Lewandowski and to see Schutt as an All-American.  We have four returning national qualifiers and an awful lot of young, talented guys who are ready to go.  I think with the transfers we’ve added, we have the potential for a great season.”