A majority of UB's 20 teams set program firsts or new program highs in 2014. Wrestling was unfortunately not one of them. But under second-year head coach and UB alumnus John Stutzman, UB's grapplers may have the brightest future of any team in the Blue and White.
Earlier in the year we got some decidedly grinchy news regarding the wrestling team, who will suffer through an APR-related postseason ban in 2014-15. Since then however, the bright future under Coach Stutzman has been on display at every competition.
We of course could focus on the excellent wrestling coming from senior Max Soria at 125 pounds. Soria is threatening a top-ten national ranking and would be a good bet for All-American status were he eligible for the postseason. (Unless I've missed something, UB's appeal of the ban is still in limbo.)
Instead, I'll highlight the very bright future. If you haven't listened to John McWhinnie, Bull Run's wrestling expert, sing the praises of Coach Stutzman, you haven't been listening. They former UB star at 150 pounds had to fundraise every year during his eight-year tenure at Bloomsburg just to keep the program alive and still turned out All-Americans.
At Buffalo, he quickly made a splash, locking down a top-20 recruiting class in his first full offseason. This year, as the Bulls have already surpassed their dual meet win total from 2013-14, UB regularly sees six freshman starters over the ten weightclasses, and several have already held their own against older, stronger competition.
A brief summary of their records so far:
Sean Peacock (133): 13-7
Jason Estevez (141): 8-5
Justin Cooksey (149): 6-8
Rrok Ndokaj (165): 19-24
Austin Weigel (184): 14-15
Joe Ariola (197): 15-10
This isn't to speak of a number of other impressive freshman who just aren't cracking the starting lineup. And if those win-loss records don't look all that impressive, remember that this team has been at the bottom of the MAC but for a few individual bright spots for several years now. Even middle of the pack would be a huge step up.
Unlike many of our first five days of Bull Run Christmas, you can enjoy the wrestling highlights into 2015. Their season is just getting started. Bookmark 13 January on your calendar for the Bulls' next home match against Columbia, and looking further ahead, don't miss the chance to see national power Missouri - a MAC affiliate member - on Friday 6 February.