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.

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.”

It's Official: Buffalo Names Alum John Stutzman Head Wrestling Coach

Now, it’s official. A familiar face has returned to Buffalo to lead the Bulls program.

1998 graduate John Stutzman, who was the all-time leader in victories at Buffalo upon his graduation, has been named the new head coach of the wrestling team, following the departure of Jim Beichner in March.

It will the second time on the staff of his alma mater, as Stutzman served as an assistant from 1998-2000 before working at Northern Illinois.

Stutzman became the head coach at Bloomsburg in 2005 and in his eight seasons, the Huskies won 97 dual meets and boasted three All-Americans and 33 NCAA qualifiers.

For his efforts, Stutzman has been named EWL Coach of the Year three times.

The Delaware native also has significant coaching experience in the international styles, having been a member of the USA Wrestling staff since 2009 and working with the New York Athletic Club.

For the full announcement from the University, see here.

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..

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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