ATHENS, OH - After winning its final two duals of the season and setting numerous personal and team season records, the Buffalo wrestling team will travel to Ohio University for the Mid-American Conference championships, starting Sunday morning at 10. Mark Lewandowski will look to win his second conference title after winning the 157 bracket last season, while senior standout Kevin Smith aims to win his first-ever conference title to cap off an illustrious career.
In the most recent coaches ranking, the Bulls were picked to finish fifth in the conference tournament, but exceeded expectations last season and earned the most individual champions in the conference. Though Lewandowski missed two conference duals due to a knee injury, he is expected to be a top two seed in tomorrow's tournament. Smith finished the conference season with a 4-1 record, matching a career best.
As for the newcomers who could earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, a quartet of freshman could surprise. Jake Waste finished the season with a 22-8 record, including 16-4 in duals and 3-1 in MAC duals. After moving down to 174 pounds in mid-December, the true freshman from Ramsey, MN went 15-3. Fellow true freshman Blake Roulo went 19-12 over the season, 2-1 in conference duals. Redshirt freshman Wally Maziarz could surprise many in the 157 pound bracket, finishing the season with a 3-1 record in duals that included wins over Kent State and Northern Illinois. Finally, redshirt freshman 125 pounder Max Soria has a great chance to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament if he can harness the success that propelled him to an 11-3 record to start the season. He will only need to finish in the top four at the MACC, thanks to a deep weight class that was recognized by the NCAA in its auto-bid allocation.
The NCAA allocated the Mid-American Conference 20 automatic bids to the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships. The MAC received four bids at the 125-pound weight class, three at 141, 184 and 285 pounds and two at 174 pounds. The remaining five weight classes were allocated one automatic bid. Automatic bids will be determined by the Sunday's final place finishes. On Wednesday, March 7, the NCAA will announce at-large bids, during its championship selection show.
Fans can watch the event live on www.mac-sports.com beginning at 10 am ET.