Bulls Send Four to Nationals, Finish 7th at MAC Championships
BUFFALO, NY - The Buffalo wrestling team will send four wrestlers to the NCAA tournament after a solid day individually at the 2013 Mid-American Conference tournament, hosted by the Bulls at Alumni Arena. Max Soria, Blake Roulo, Mark Lewandowski, and John-Martin Cannon all secured automatic bids to the upcoming national tournament, but the Bulls would not claim an individual title.
Missouri won the team championship, ending Central Michigan's 11-year reign as the MAC tournament champions. The Bulls finished seventh overall out of eight teams.
"I think for the most part our guys performed pretty well. Not everybody, we need more guys to place and that was the difference in the team score," head coach Jim Beichner said. "We qualified four for the national championships, and they're all four quality guys who can go out there and score points for us at nationals. We weren't happy with not having champions, because that's why we're here, but we will prepare ourselves for the NCAA championships two weeks from now."
Soria came in to the tournament as the fifth seed, with the top four finishers guaranteed an automatic berth. He opened the tournament with a mild upset of fifth seed Jared Germaine of Eastern Michigan, 11-7. He would lose to top seed Alan Waters of Missouri in the semifinals. In the consolation round, he beat Ryan Jauch of Northern Iowa to guarantee an automatic bid, as there could be no true placing match for fourth place because both wrestlers behind Soria were opponents he had beaten. Though he lost in the third-place match to Kevon Powell of Ohio, he will make his second trip to nationals.
Roulo came into the tournament seeded sixth, and wrestled early with a purpose, upsetting third seed Bart Reiter of Northern Iowa 6-3. In the semifinal round, he matched up with two seed Donnie Corby of Central Michigan. Roulo trailed late in the match thanks to a controversial stalling call, but he then rebounded for a takedown in the final 15 seconds of the match to earn a 5-3 win and a trip to the finals. He would lose to Drake Houdashelt of Missouri, but held the true right to second place to make his first career trip to nationals after coming ever-so-close in 2012 as a freshman.
Lewandowski also came into the tournament under-seeded, earning the third seed despite being the highest nationally ranked wrestler in the MAC. He would easily dispatch his first round opponent, Eastern Michigan's Jacob Davis, by a 9-2 score. That set up a bout against two seed Zach Toal. The two met at the national tournament in 2012, with Lewandowski winning 3-1. Mark would earn a similar results, winning 3-2, to make his third straight conference final.
He faced top-seeded Mike Ottinger in the final, and held tough in a match that would not be decided until the waning seconds of the third period. Ottinger would win 8-5 to claim the title, and Lewandowski's day ultimately would not be over. Because the MAC only received two automatic bids at 165, Lewandowski would have to defending his second place finish in a true-seeding match. He would face Kent State's Caleb Marsh and handled him with relative ease, winning 4-1 to keep the auto bid.
Cannon was the final auto qualifier for UB, finishing second at 174. Coming in as the fourth seed, he beat Craig Kelliher of Central Michigan 3-2 in the first round and then upset the top seed Todd Porter 3-2 in the semifinals. In the championship match, he faced Cody Walters of Ohio. Early on, Cannon was able to get a double leg and put Walters on his back, but the referees did not award him with a takedown or any back points. Walters would slow-play Cannon to slow his offense, ultimately drawing just two stall warnings. Walters would earn the 5-3 win, but Cannon will make nationals for the third time in his career.
Erik Galloway was the only other Bulls to place, going 2-2 for the tournament. Both of his wins would come over Kent State's Lukas Kern – 6-0 in the first round, and 3-1 in the fifth-place match.
The team now has 11 days to prepare for nationals, to be held at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA.
Team Scores: 1. Missouri - 136 2. Central Michigan- 88 3. Northern Iowa- 83 4. Kent State - 82 t5. Northern Illinois - 63.5 t5. Ohio - 63.5 7. Buffalo - 51.5 8. Eastern Michigan 44.5.