Buffalo Earns Four NCAA Qualifiers at the MAC Championships – Lewandowski, Cannon, Roulo and Soria


Mark Lewandowski, John-Martin Cannon and Max Soria have all wrested at the NCAA tournament in the past. And they all will do so again in Des Moines, as they punched their tickets at the MAC Championships this weekend in their home gym. Joining them on the road to Iowa will be Blake Roulo, who came into the event seeded sixth, but who upset the #2 and 3 wrestlers in the 149-pound bracket to finish second.

Lewandowski entered the weekend as the number three seed at a weight with only two guaranteed qualifying spots for Nationals. However, the senior made his way to the finals with an opening round victory over Jacob Davis of Eastern Michigan and a semifinal win against Missouri’s Zach Toal. After dropping a decision to Central Michigan’s Mike Ottinger in the finals, his day wasn’t done as he faced Caleb Marsh of Kent State in a “true second” tilt, with the victor getting the trip to NCAAs. Lewandowski prevailed 4-1 to secure his spot in the field.

Soria, Photo by BV

A year ago, Soria traveled with Lewandowski out to St. Louis for Nationals after earning the MAC’s final qualifying slot with a fourth place conference showing. He needed to at least match that performance this weekend to return to NCAAs and he did just that, taking fourth as the #5 seed.

Cannon came into the tournament in the fourth spot in the bracket, but rode an upset of top-seeded Todd Porter of Missouri to the title bout. He was upended by Cody Walters of Ohio there, but will be headed back to the Nationals after last year’s redshirt season.

As a team, Buffalo took seventh place, with Missouri bringing home top honors. The Tigers, in their first season in the MAC, broke Central Michigan’s long grasp on the MAC conference crown.

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..

Iowa Dual Highlights 2012-13 Buffalo Schedule

Courtesy of http://www.buffalobulls.com

BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo Bulls wrestling team announced its 2012-13 schedule, with another season highlighted by aggressive scheduling against some of the top talent in the nation. This season, the Bulls will bring perennial powerhouse Iowa to Alumni Arena for its fourth annual Takedown Cancer event on Dec. 17. Additionally, the Bulls will be hosting the 2013 Mid-American Conference championships on March 10.

The Hawkeyes finished third in the 2012 NCAA national championships and had six All-Americans and one national champion. This will be the first meeting ever between the two teams, and it is the first of two scheduled duals between the two programs, as Buffalo will face Iowa on the road in the 2013-14 season.

“Having Iowa come here – and us going to Iowa next year – is a huge step in the right direction for our program,” said head coach Jim Beichner. “It’s something that’s hopefully not just exciting for our team, but for Western New York and all of our alumni and friends of the progam.”

Before that, the season will kick off on Nov. 4 with the UB Invite, marking a slight change in format to the standard season-opening tournament. While in the past it was an open tournament, this season, the UB Invite will offer team scoring in a competition that will feature the region’s top teams and wrestlers. Unattached wrestlers will also compete, but this season, each team will field a group of starters to compete to win a team championship.

Following the UB Invite, the Bulls will again travel to Brockport, NY for the Oklahoma Gold Classic (Nov. 10). Then another significant change will be in store for the team, as the New York State Collegiate championship will be next up on Nov. 17. Usually held in the last part of the season, the championship will move up into November to offer a more fiercely competitive and exciting event. Hosted by Cornell, the tournament will bring together the very best college teams in New York.
In the final of the four straight tournaments to open the season, the Bulls will go to Penn State for the Nittany Lion Open. Hosted by the two-time defending national champions, the tournament will again offer the team a challenging tournament chock full of premiere national talent.
Following that, the team embarks on a streak of six duals and two tournaments in just over a month, starting with its MAC opener at Central Michigan on Dec. 9 that has tremendous historical impact for UB. That dual will be the 1,000th dual in program history, and the 276th in the career of head coach Jim Beichner. That is followed up one week later with the team’s home opener against Iowa.

The team will then hit the road again for three straight road events, starting Dec. 18 at Bloomsburg. Then, the Bulls will split up the squad for a pair of tournaments to close out 2012. On Dec. 29, the team will send a select few wrestlers to the Midlands tournament at Northwestern University. Widely regarded as the most prestigious in-season tournament in the country, the Midlands will celebrate its 50th year in 2012. Last season, John-Martin Cannon earned Buffalo’s highest individual finish after placing fourth. UB wrestlers who are not competing at the Midlands will participate in the Lock Haven Invite on the same day.

Buffalo opens the new year at Binghamton on Jan. 2 before coming home on Jan. 6 to take on Edinboro. The following Friday, the team will head down to the mid-Atlantic region for the Virginia Duals. This will be the third season in the duals tournament, and after placing in the past two season, the Bulls will strive for a team title against numerous national powerhouses.

A quartet of MAC duals soon follows, with UB hosting Eastern Michigan (Jan. 18), Kent State (Feb. 3), and Northern Illinois (Feb. 16), and battling Ohio on the road (Jan. 26).

Another new event for the team will be held on Feb. 23, with the Regional Duals hosted by Franklin and Marshall in Lancaster, PA. Featuring Lock Haven, Purdue, Duke, Rider, and the host Diplomats of F&M, the duals event will feature at least two dual matches for the Bulls to close out the regular season.

The Bulls will then host the MAC tournament championship for the first time since 2007, with head coach Jim Beichner excited to show just how much the young UB squad has grown from last season.

Following that, the team hopes to send another handful of wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, hosted this season in Des Moines, Iowa at the Wells Fargo Arena.

“We made a commitment years ago that our schedule would get better and tougher every year,” Beichner said. “When you do that, you take more risks, but we hope the rewards come with these risks. Unless you make a schedule where you wrestle the best, you won’t ever get to the level of the very best.”