Buffalo Signs 10 Recruits for the Fall of 2014, Including Eight New Yorkers

The early signing period for wrestling ends today, however, Buffalo’s recruits wasted no time providing their National Letters of Intent.  The Bulls inked 10 wrestlers last week, including eight from New York, according to the school website.

The Empire State wrestlers committed to compete for head coach John Stutzman include state champion Sean Peacock of Midlakes and two-time NYS placers Alex Smythe of Eden and Bryan Lantry of Wayne.  In addition, standouts from Section 2 (Shaker’s Blake Retell), Section 3 (Daniel Smith of South Jefferson), Section 4 (Newark Valley teammates Derek Holcomb and Trevor Hoffmier) and Section 6 (Rocco Russo of Frontier) will take the mat in the MAC conference in the future.

Also joining the class is nationally-ranked Kyle Akins of Illinois and Super 32 placer Jake Gunning of Pennsylvania.

 

For the full release from buffalobulls.com, see this link.

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.”

On to Buffalo: State Champion Sean Peacock Commits to the Bulls

Sean Peacock took third place in New York as a freshman at 96 pounds, but when it came time for the next season, the Midlakes wrestler wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I went up two weight classes [to 113],” he said. “People were surprised I didn’t certify at 108.  Going up those two classes, I expected less than the year before – I definitely wanted to place but I didn’t know what would happen.”

Photo by BV

But as the season progressed and Peacock continued to pile up victories at his new weight, his goals began to change.  In fact, despite enduring his second loss of the campaign at the SuperSectionals to Austin Keough of Warsaw, Peacock shared a prediction with his mother while traveling to the Times Union Center.

“When it came time for the state tournament, I felt more confident in myself,” he said.  “I told my mom on the way to Albany for the tournament that I somehow knew I would come away a winner that year.”

He did, in more ways than one.  In a loaded bracket full of medalists and champions, such as William Koll, Dillon Stowell and Trey Aslanian, Peacock earned New York State gold.

“Everything just kind of flowed and I had some good matches and ended up winning,” he said.  “It was kind of surreal.  It was shocking to know that I beat everyone in my bracket and for Division II, I was the #1 guy in the state.  It’s something I can’t describe.”

But Peacock said it wasn’t necessarily the highlight of the year.

“I think the biggest accomplishment was winning the [dual] state title as team,” he said. “I grew up with those guys and we’ve been working together for so long – since seven years old.  We’ve wrestled year round together, always putting in the time. The team part was very meaningful.”

A similar sense of team was one of the reasons Peacock recently decided to continue his academic and athletic pursuits at the University at Buffalo, where he projects to compete at 133 pounds.  (Peacock said he also considered Old Dominion and Bucknell).

After traveling to the campus in early September, he knew he wanted to return for an official visit.

“As soon as I met the team and witnessed how things were with them, I knew it was the right fit for me,” he said.  “Everyone seemed to mesh together really well and I really liked the coaching staff and the academic support they have in place. Knowing a lot of the New York guys was a factor too.”

Before he gets there, Peacock has things left to do in Section 5 and statewide.  Right now, for the three-sport athlete, that includes finishing the cross country season. (He plays lacrosse as well).  But no matter how many squads he’s a part of, Peacock always finds significant time for wrestling.

That time has been well spent over the years and has resulted in multiple All-America finishes at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach (including seventh at 120 in 2013) as well as a rewriting of the Midlakes record books.  Peacock already is the leading pinner in Screaming Eagles history, with over 100 falls in his career.

The individual state title he captured was the first ever for a Midlakes wrestler.  He tried to make it two golds in 2013, earning a spot in the New York championship match for the second straight year against Edgemont’s Trey Aslanian.  This time, however, the current Princeton grappler came out on top, 4-2.

“Last season wasn’t my best performance,” Peacock said. “Even though I was second last year and third as a freshman, I feel like my freshman year was more successful.  I realized that I needed to improve a lot more.  It’s definitely a motivator for me now.”

Peacock feels that he has improved this offseason, especially on his feet. He credits his frequent sessions with Wayne’s Bryan Lantry and Webster Schroeder’s Tom Lancie for some of his progress.

“My neutral has gotten a lot better and we’ve been working on a lot of different situations,” he said. “I’ve fine tuned my work on top.  I’m more prepared now.”

He’s prepared to take on all comers at 132 pounds, looking for another magical weekend in the state capital.

“That was one of the best weekends of my life,” Peacock said. “Wins or pin records aren’t important.  I’m going out to be a state champ, nothing less.”

 —————————————————-

Sean Peacock wanted to thank his parents, his teammates, Coach Steve Howcroft, Coach LaPaglia, Papa Brooks, and everyone he’s trained with over the years.

Buffalo Bound: Two-Time New York State Placer Alex Smythe Commits to the Bulls

After placing at the Section 6 championships four times previously, Eden’s Alex Smythe captured his first Section title in February of 2013 inside Alumni Arena on the campus of the University at Buffalo.

Smythe, a two-time New York State medalist, plans to win many more matches in that location as he committed to head coach John Stutzman and the Bulls a few days ago. He expects to begin at 157 pounds and possibly transition to 165 later in his career.

“I really liked the coaches and it’s a great place for college,” Smythe said, adding that he also considered Binghamton and Eastern Michigan. “I think we’re going to do really well in wrestling and I’ll get a great education.  I also liked a lot of the guys on the team.”

He’s already familiar with a number of his future teammates.

“I know a lot of the guys and I know we’ll work well together,” Smythe said. “It was definitely a factor, especially since my best friend, Rocco Russo, is also going to Buffalo and we’ll be roommates.”

Courtesy of Alex Smythe

Smythe has been working with Russo and other local standouts to prepare for his last high school campaign after taking third at 152 pounds at the New York State tournament as a junior.

“I’m focused on being in good shape and winning all my matches this year,” he said. “I did a lot of training in the summer – a lot of wrestling and running.  I worked out with guys like Rocco [Russo], [state champion] Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer and Jake Weber.  I also did a lot of Freestyle and Greco. Fargo was a good experience, wrestling the best guys in the nation.  [He went 2-2 in Freestyle with two technical falls and losses by 11-10 and 12-10 scores]. I was right there, even in the matches I lost.  I was close.”

He had similar sentiments about the state tournament in 2013.  Although Smythe didn’t come into Albany as a high seed, he had a lot of confidence after a season of more than 40 wins, where his only setbacks came in close decisions against state champion Drew Hull and two-time finalist Eric Lewandowski.  Taking first place at the qualifier provided him with a boost as well.

“Finally winning the Section title was a big weight off my shoulders,” he said. “I definitely felt good coming into the state tournament.”

At the Times Union Center, Smythe began with a major decision and followed up with a 3-1 victory over fourth-seeded Tyler Spann to make the semifinals against the bracket’s #1 grappler, Rowdy Prior of Phoenix.  He had a lead in that bout going into the last two minutes before Prior turned the tide.

“I was winning 4-2 in the beginning of the third period when I got caught and pinned,” Smythe said.

He bounced back in the consolations, shutting out Brett Pastore of Irvington and then edging Spann for the second time to nab bronze.  Still, he wasn’t quite satisfied.

“I was a little down because I came in expecting to win,” he said.

He expected to win partially because of the experience he had in his first appearance in Albany as a freshman in 2011.  Smythe lost a 2-0 decision to the eventual champion in round one but rebounded with four victories in the consolations to work his way back to fifth place at 125 pounds in his ninth grade year.

“That was sweet,” Smythe said. “My teammate Tom Page [now wrestling at American] took third that year at 119 and he was a really good partner.  Wrestling with guys like that in the room made me so much better. After I placed as a freshman, I thought I could place every year. I thought I’d make my mark.”

He began his sophomore campaign strong, but midway through that season, he tore his meniscus and wasn’t the same the rest of the way.

“I tried to wrestle but I wasn’t up to par,” he said. “I was losing to guys I beat earlier.  I messed up at the Section 6 tournament and that was really disappointing.”

Smythe had surgery right after the season and worked through the rehab process.  And he followed up with the third place finish in New York.  With all he’s done since February, Smythe believes he “is much better overall and definitely a smarter wrestler.”

Now, he’s ready for a strong finish to his Eden career before making the short journey to Buffalo for college.

“I feel like I should have won a state championship last year,” he said. “But now my goal is to get that off my mind by going undefeated and winning the state title as a senior.”

———————–

Alex Smythe thanked his coaches, Tom Page and Chuck Rizzo, as well as his dad, for his wrestling success.

Running with the Bulls: South Jefferson's Daniel Smith Chooses Buffalo

Daniel Smith estimates that he has wrestled around 100 matches since his junior campaign with South Jefferson came to a close.

“When the offseason started, I went to school, lifted at school and then a few times a week, I drove two hours to Chenango Forks to practice with Team Worldwide,” he said.  “Coach Rick Gumble runs a great freestyle practice and it was worth it to make the drive.  From the end of the high school season, I probably wrestled every weekend.”

While he was busy on the mat, in the weight room and in the car, he wasn’t too busy to decide on his future home – the University at Buffalo.

Smith, who also considered Binghamton, Bloomsburg and Drexel, said that his comfort with the coaching staff was one of the big factors for him.

“My brother [Darrick] wrestled for John Stutzman so I’ve known him for a long time,” Smith said. “They called me on July 1st – the first day they were allowed to call recruits. When I went on my visit, I loved the campus and liked all the coaches.   They were on the coaching staff at Fargo too.  I felt like we had a great relationships and it made my decision pretty easy.”

Courtesy of Daniel Smith

Smith said he expects to compete at 197 pounds at the college level after wrestling at 170 as an 11th grader in Section 3.

“I gained around 15 pounds since last season,” he said. “In college, they’ll put me on a diet and weight program to fill out my 6-foot-2 frame.  I’ll be going up to 182 for this season.”

Smith expects great things in his senior year in the new weight class after a 46-3 junior campaign that didn’t conclude the way he imagined it would.

“I was unhappy with how my season ended,” he said of a 1-2 showing in Albany. “I believe I was better than where I finished.  It was my first time at the state tournament and in a way I don’t think I was prepared because after the first weekend of the season, I didn’t really have a contested match.  Some of my matches weren’t high scoring but I always felt like I was in control.”

He didn’t have to wait long to face a tough challenge in Albany.  After winning his opening bout, Smith faced top-seeded Christian Dietrich.  The nationally-ranked Greene star defeated Smith 3-1 on his way to the title bout.

“I lost that heartbreaker [to Dietrich] and kind of fell apart after that,” he said. “I was really frustrated because I wanted to be in the finals.”

While he didn’t reach the finals as an individual, Smith experienced championships on the team level in 2013-14.  South Jefferson had a stellar season, winning the Section 3 Dual Meet and tournament championships while going 28-0 overall.

“It was great,” Smith said. “It’s a lot of fun when you’re winning. When I was an eighth grader our team went undefeated and it was really exciting.  I was hoping we could do it again.  Then, this year we did it with probably one of the best teams we’ve ever had at South Jefferson.”

He expects good things from the squad again despite the losses of some key performers to graduation.  In addition, longtime coach Pat Conners retired.  (John Babcock, who Smith said has been coaching him since he was in seventh grade, has taken the reins of the program).

In addition to another strong showing on the team level, Smith expects a different ending for himself.  He has demonstrated the ability to wrestle with top notch opponents, including wins this spring over Christian Stackhouse of New Jersey, who went on to place third at Fargo and Pennsylvania’s Ryan Preisch, who was fourth in North Dakota.  Smith picked up All-American honors of his own at the NHSCA Nationals as a sophomore.

He plans to get onto another podium this year —  at the Times Union Center — before moving on to the MAC to wrestle for the Buffalo Bulls.

“I think being at the state tournament before will help me this year,” he said.  “My team is also supposed to go to Eastern States, so hopefully I’ll beat some kids there and have some seeding criteria for the end of the year. My goal is to be a state champion and whoever I have to beat to do it, I plan on beating.”

Buffalo Unveils 2013-14 Schedule, Beginning With the Oklahoma Gold and Including a Trip to Iowa

The University at Buffalo unveiled the 2013-14 schedule, featuring 13 duals and a number of tournaments in head coach John Stutzman’s first season at the helm of the program.

The Bulls will begin action on November 9 at the Oklahoma Gold event in Brockport before participating in the New York State Collegiate tournament on the 23rd of November at Cornell.

The squad will also compete with Empire State foes in duals this year, traveling to New York City to battle Columbia in mid January and hosting Binghamton in February.

The Bulls will meet Iowa for the second consecutive campaign, this time facing the national power at Carver Hawkeye Arena on December 12.  Just a few days earlier, Buffalo will take on two of the MAC’s top teams on the road – Kent State and Central Michigan.

For the full release from the Buffalo Athletics site, see this link.

Buffalo Announces Recruiting Class, Including Nine New York Wrestlers

On Friday, Buffalo announced the incoming recruiting class for the fall of 2013 put together by new head coach John Stutzman and his staff.  The group, which consists of 16 wrestlers from five different states, has a strong New York presence, with nine Empire State grapplers included.

Photo by BV

Those New York wrestlers are: Corey Hollister (125 pounds, Perry), Brandon Muntz (133, Falconer), AJ Voelker (165, Monroe Woodbury), Alex Francik (165, Vestal), Rrok Ndokaj (174, Monsignor Farrell/Bloomsburg), Austin Weigel (174, Onteora), Anthony Liberatore (184, Williamsville South), James Benjamin (197, Vestal) and Mike Silvis (197, Holley).

——————————–

Courtesy of buffalobulls.com

BUFFALO, NY – With at least one newcomer at every weight class, the 2013 wrestling recruiting class has covered all the bases for first-year head coach John Stutzman. In the mix for the upcoming season will be a group of Division I transfers, and high school standouts from five different states.

Stutzman describes the class of 16 wrestlers as crucial pieces of the team’s future.

“These guys want to be here and build a foundation for future success,” Stutzman said about his incoming recruits. “They want to put UB back on the map and make us a contender. We want to compete in the MAC and become a consistent top-20 team. That’s what this class is all about.”

For the full release from the University at Buffalo Athletics site, see this link.

Buffalo Wrestling Announces Assistant Coaches Joining John Stutzman's Staff

 
 
Courtesy of buffalobulls.com

BUFFALO, NY – New head wrestling coach John Stutzman announced his coaching staff Monday morning, with the hiring of Quincy Osborn and Bryce Hasseman. Both assistants come to Buffalo with success as both wrestlers and coaches, and each of them has experienced life in the competitive Mid-American Conference.

“We want to be a blue collar team, we’re going to get our guys in great shape and create a style of wrestling that will be fun to watch,” Stutzman said about his hopes for the team under the new coaching staff.

Osborn recently finished his fourth year as an assistant with MAC rival Ohio. Over that time with the Bobcats, he helped to recruit two top 25 ranked recruiting classes and coached up Germane Lindsey to All American status in the 2010 season. His first coaching job came at Augsburg College, where he worked for two years after wrestling at the school for two seasons.

After originally started his collegiate wrestling career at Minnesota before going to Augsburg, Osborn qualified twice for the NCAA Division I tournament while with the Gophers. Wrestling for Augsburg in 2007, he was the Division III National Champion at 141 pounds, also leading the Auggies to the national team title. In that season, he had the most team points, takedowns, and falls.

For the remainder of the article from the University at Buffalo Athletics site, see here.

Buffalo Bound: Onteora's Austin Weigel Set to Join the Bulls

 
 
Austin Weigel knows the route from Onteora to the Albany area well.

Extremely well.

At least three times per week, the Section 9 standout made the 1.5 hour trip after school up to Journeymen Wrestling Club practices. And afterwards, he’d get back in the car for another 1.5 hour drive, typically arriving home around 9 p.m. to start his homework.

However, as Weigel talked about his recent commitment to the University at Buffalo, he had no doubt that all the time on the road was worth it, helping him emerge as a Division I prospect.

“I really got into wrestling after my sophomore year,” Weigel said. “Before that I was a three-sport athlete who wanted to get better but wasn’t totally into it yet. As a sophomore, I lost in the Section 9 finals and it motivated me. Wrestling was what I wanted to do and I wanted to win – not just the Section, but everything.”

Courtesy of Austin Weigel

He decided that competing in the offseason, in addition to his training with Onteora, would provide him with a boost.

“Working with Journeymen pushed me to more serious tournaments and competition,” he said. “I went to Super 32 and Fargo. I went to a lot of new and different places and got more experience.”

That experience showed during his 38-4 junior campaign at 160 pounds (after a 26-11 mark as a sophomore).

“It took me a few matches to realize how different things were, how much better I was,” he said. “I wasn’t cutting a lot of weight and I felt good the whole year.”

He captured the Section 9 title with ease, winning all of his bouts by bonus points. And he followed up with a pair of victories at the state tournament, falling one win shy of All-State status.

“Being there in Albany wasn’t good enough,” he said. “I wasn’t seeded but I just wrestled hard and was just one match away from placing. It was a close [3-1] loss [to the eventual bronze medalist] and it definitely motivated me.”

Weigel perhaps used some of that motivation at the Journeymen Classic in the fall, winning a round robin bracket full of accomplished wrestlers – fourth place finishers Daesean Johnson (New Jersey, 160), John Messinger (New York DII, 170) and Dale White (New York DI, 160).

“It was a really tough group up at 170,” he said. “I wrestled really well and had a lot of good wins there.”

He had a lot of good wins as his senior campaign began for Onteora as well, including a major over 2012 All-State grappler Andrew Martinez of Liberty. In the earlygoing, Weigel wrestled up at 170 but wasn’t sure where he would finish the season.

“I contemplated staying at 170 with my coaches but we felt that my best shot at a state championship was at 160,” he said. “I committed to 160 at Eastern States and knew that’s where I would be the rest of the year.”

It looked like a solid choice as he made the medal stand at the prestigious tournament held at SUNY Sullivan. After winning his first two contests, he faced nationally-ranked Burke Paddock in the quarterfinals. In a hard-fought match, Paddock came out on top, 1-0, his closest victory of a dominant season.

Courtesy of Austin Weigel

Weigel then won two of his three consolation bouts, to grab seventh. His setback was to eventual state placer Andrew Psomas in sudden victory.

“I was pretty happy with how that tournament went overall,” he said. “Getting down to weight wasn’t always ideal this year, but I felt pretty good there. I thought I could beat Paddock and wrestled a tough match against him. I was a little shaky afterwards, and had a really disappointing loss to Psomas. I was in on his legs the whole match, but I just couldn’t score. He kept going out of bounds. It was a frustrating loss.”

He rebounded to pin his way to his second straight Section title and picked up his 100th victory during the campaign for good measure.

He began his quest for a state title well, picking up a major in round 1. He then met Greene’s Mike Beckwith, who handed him a defeat in Albany in 2012. One year later, the outcome was the same and Weigel moved into the wrestlebacks where he dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to Section 6’s Gunnar Van Curen.

“It’s hard to think about, but [Beckwith] just wrestled the better match,” he said. “I didn’t get to do anything I wanted to. He got an early takedown and rode me well. I was really disappointed and tried to get my head straight afterwards. In the next one, I don’t know what it was. It was like the Psomas match because I was in on his legs a lot and couldn’t score. It was one of the worst losses of my career because he escaped with 30 seconds left to win 1-0 and I knew my high school career was over. I didn’t perform like I should have and know I could have. For a while, I felt bad about myself but looking back now, I realize I can’t take away from the rest of my accomplishments because of one disappointing weekend. I’ve beaten kids that did much better at states, but that’s the way it went.”

He got a chance to face some of those that fared better in Albany this spring, at the Journeymen Freestyle Duals. He said he expected to wrestle at 182, but due to team needs, he cut to 170.

In the first dual of the day, Journeymen met Vougar’s Honors Wrestling (VHW), the eventual winner of the event. Weigel was set to face Division I 160-pound state runner up Steven Schneider of MacArthur.

“I was really tired that morning after the cut, but I was excited because we were wrestling a team of Long Island studs first,” he said. “I saw Schneider at Eastern States – he beat Psomas and other guys I lost to. My teammate Jimmy Marquez got a pin at 160 and he came off the mat and slapped my hand and got me all amped up because he lost to Schneider at the state tournament. He told me I could beat him and I got fired up.”

Weigel took the first and third periods to get the victory in what he called an important win for him.

“I was in a funk, still getting over the season and that was a big momentum moment – wrestling to my potential against a great wrestler. I was relaxed and wrestled the match I wanted.”

There wasn’t much time to celebrate, however, as he next faced Matt Fisher, the Sacred Heart-bound senior who earned bronze in the same bracket as Weigel at the state tournament.

“I knew he beat Beckwith to take third at states,” he said. “I was thinking about the win I just had and there wasn’t a time I was worried about giving up points or losing. I got back on track and showed what I didn’t show at the state tournament.”

The future exercise science major hopes to keep showing what he can do at Buffalo, where he believes he will begin at 174 pounds but could go up higher given his six-foot-one frame.

“I took trips to other schools and liked every school I saw,” he said, mentioning Binghamton and Bloomsburg, among others. “I really liked Coach Stutzman when I went to Bloomsburg and when I heard he moved to Buffalo, I felt like I was basically done with the process. I liked everything about Buffalo – the campus, the facilities, the big school atmosphere. I’m really excited to be part of a program that’s going in the right direction and revamping everything. I think Coach Stutzman will rebuild the program strong.”

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Austin Weigel had a long list of people he wanted to thank.

“I want to thank my family, friends, coaches and the community for everything. The support for the program is amazing and helped me to get where I am.”

He mentioned the huge contributions of Journeymen’s Frank Popolizio and his high school coaches Lou Chartrand and Eric Pezzello “who are more than coaches – they are second and third fathers to me.” He also thanked Donnie Van Buren, CJ Goldizen and Dustin MacKenzie for being influential workout partners and his “brother” Avery Leighton who “was my best practice partner because we did everything together. I owe a lot to him. He made me the hardest worker I could be and was a huge part of my wrestling career.”

No Bull: John Stutzman Returns to His Alma Mater to "Lead This Program to Greatness"

 
 
When he was in seventh grade, John Stutzman knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“I started wrestling pretty late, but as soon as I set foot on the mat, I said I would be a Division I head coach one day,” Stutzman said. “People said you can’t do it or you’re not going to do it. But I’m a worker, a persistent guy. I’ve always been able to motivate and relate to people. Coaching is a natural thing for me and I was determined to do it.”

Years later, when he arrived as a transfer to the University at Buffalo, he added to his goal. He not only desired to lead a wrestling program; he wanted someday to lead the Bulls.

“In 1995 when I first walked on campus, I said it right then and there,” he recalled. “Buffalo was where I wanted to be. One day, I would come back and lead this program to greatness.”

When UB Athletic Director Danny White announced in March that Jim Beichner would not be back at the helm for the 2013-14 campaign, Stutzman immediately took notice.

And in early May, he officially began his tenure in the position he had dreamed about for years. Now, the hard work begins.

But hard work is nothing new for Stutzman, who graduated from the institution as the all-time wins leader for the Bulls. While he got his hand raised often in a Buffalo singlet, he is driven by what he didn’t do.

“Not achieving my goals of being an All-American or a National Champion motivates me to get the guys I coach to the next level,” he said. “I understand how to get wrestlers where they need to go.”

That drive is part of the equation. But Stutzman also has prepared for his new role for years during his previous stops as an assistant at Buffalo, Northern Illinois and Bloomsburg and then his eight seasons as the head coach for the Huskies.

“When I coached at Buffalo under Coach Beichner, he gave me leeway to run some things like the offseason program and we had some success,” Stutzman said. “At Northern Illinois, I was able to become the recruiting coordinator and helped to sign two top 25 classes there, which was a great experience.”

At Bloomsburg, he had the opportunity to wear many hats.

“I grew so much as a coach,” he said. “I learned how to run a program. It’s an awesome university but there aren’t a lot of resources. So I was the strength coach, the academic advisor, recruiting coordinator, camp coordinator. I worked with financial aid. It taught me how to run a program inside and out because I got my hands on all aspects of the program.”

In the process, Bloomsburg saw plenty of success. Stutzman earned EWL Coach of the Year honors three times and boasted 33 NCAA qualifiers and three All-Americans during his tenure. And all of that was achieved with a fraction of the scholarships that he will now have at his disposal.

In fact, Stutzman said last year’s squad had around 3.5 scholarships (a full allotment is 9.9), and even with some starters redshirting, the squad captured the EWL Dual Meet title.

“My philsophy is about year round training and good lifestyle choices,” he said. “I think when you do those things and get the parents and the kids to buy in 100%, you can win whether you have 0 scholarships or 9.9. It’s all about getting the right kids. With the 3.5 scholarships, you can’t make mistakes. We limited our mistakes the past five years and were able to have some success.”

So what part of that success stood out to Stutzman during his time in Pennsylvania?

“We’re proud of taking walk ons or kids who were never state champions or even in the top 3 of their state and having them wrestle to their potential. I love coaching people like Frank Hickman and Mike Dessino, who get better and better, winning a lot of matches and going to the National tournament. There are also guys like Matt Moley and Mike Spaid, who nobody really recruited, but they became All-Americans.”

Another wrestler Stutzman pointed to was Monsignor Farrell graduate Kevin Hartnett, a wrestler he believes will have a great season in 2013-14 for Bloomsburg given his work ethic and passion for the sport. Hartnett was one of six New Yorkers on the Huskies roster in 2012-13 (out of 30). It’s not surprising given that Stutzman has always kept tabs on the Empire State.

“I think New York wrestling is underrated to say the least,” he said. “There are so many good kids and with so few Division I programs, many of them get overlooked. There are so many great high school programs and the kids compete – in Fargo, in the club system, year round. The talent is there and we’re very excited about it. We want to come in and win the state.”

Thus far, in a short time at the helm, Stutzman has certainly made the Empire State a priority.  Since his hire, the commitments have piled up, including from numerous New York State placers. For more, see here and here.

“Recruiting has been a huge priority and it’s been a process,” he said. “Coming in here, my job was to look at everyone not committed and get them here. We’re moving in the right direction. At the end of the day, we’re looking to bring in 12-15 kids this year. I think we’re on course.”

Stutzman believes that many of the new faces will see time on the mat in 2013-14.  But it won’t be only newcomers, as he points to a solid group of returners, including (but not limited to) Max and Mike Soria, Justin Farmer, Wally Maziarz, Andrew Schutt, Erik Galloway, Angelo Malvestuto, Tony Lock and Jarred Lux.

“I’ve seen guys come in and work unbelievably hard already,” he said. “They’re awesome kids who will continue to get better. We have a good nucleus. The biggest thing is changing the culture here where guys are coming in to be MAC champions, National Champions and get a great education. Anything else, and this isn’t the right program. We want kids that want to train and compete every day. We’ve only had one Division I All-American here [Kyle Cerminara]. When guys are shooting to be National Champions, All-Americans start to happen on a regular basis. That’s the mindset we want to instill and it’s a work in progress.”

With this mix and mindset, Stutzman said the team will surprise some people this winter and beyond.

“When we put the system in place, they’ll respond to it,” he said. “It will be more work than they’ve ever done. I’m not saying they didn’t work hard before, but I think the system will make them successful. Being young as a team is good and I think we’ll be better than people think next year because of our effort level and in two years, we’ll be dynamite. When guys give great effort, it’s fun to watch and it always gives you a chance to win. We want to make UB wrestling exciting.”

Helping Stutzman with these goals will be head assistant coach Bryce Hasseman.

“I’ve been around Bryce for years – there’s a lot of familiarity there,” he said. “He’s an unbelievable coach. He’s competed on the international level and has trained at the Hawkeye Wrestling Club and in Colorado Springs with Terry Brands. He’s coached at Oklahoma State and with me at Bloomsburg. He’s the kind of guy people like to be around.”

The search for the remaining two members of the staff – the second and volunteer assistants – is ongoing. Those who do come in will likely play a role in the development of the Buffalo Wrestling Club/Regional Training Center. Stutzman has long been involved in the international styles and believes integrating them into training is a huge component of success.

“We’re working on establishing the Buffalo Wrestling Club, working with some local clubs like Super Six and Cobra,” he said. “Solidifying it and putting it into place is really important. Major programs have a freestyle program, a 365 day a year program, and we’re building that.”

It has clearly been a busy first few weeks on the job for Stutzman. And what’s next? For one thing, he and his family are searching for a place to live. But even though he’s yet to find a house, he feels like he’s already where he belongs.

“I claim Buffalo as my hometown and I welcomed a chance to come home,” he said. “I have a lot of great relationships in the Buffalo area and a love for the school, Western New York and wrestling in New York in general. Everything about the university is first class from the academics to the athletic department. I believe in this place. I came through here and can’t wait to put us back on the map. It’s time to put Buffalo where it belongs – in the top 10. It’s a fun time to be a Bull.”