There's a reason that the Southern Scuffle is considered to be both the most difficult regular season tournament, and the closest thing to the NCAA tournament without being the NCAA tournament. And the Buffalo Bulls, led by seniors Max Soria, Wally Maziarz and second-year coach John Stutzman found out why the hard way.
The Bulls came away with a couple early victories from Max Soria, Justin Cooksey, and Brett Perry at 125, 149 and 184 pounds respectively, then the Bulls hit a wall. Several Bulls faced highly ranked opponents that were experienced and well seasoned, and the Bulls' inexperience showed.
At 165 pounds Rrok Ndokaj's first match of the tournament was against Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State, who was the top ranked wrestler in the nation, and a reigning national champion. While Sean Peacock took on #18 Nick Soto of host school Chattanooga, and Muhamid McBryde battle valiantly against #18 Kyle Crutchmer of Oklahoma State but ultimately lost 7-3.
In fact, after the first two rounds of the championship bracket cycled through only Jason Estevez and Max Soria remained in contention for a championship. Then, Soria lost only his second match of the year to #17 Tim Lambert of Nebraska, and Estevez dropped a 9-0 decision to Boise State's Geo Martinez, eliminating the remaining Bulls from title contention.
In fact, of the 14 grapplers starting the day for the Bulls only Estevez and Soria remain alive and will compete tomorrow.
In terms of team scoring UB is sitting in 27th with 7 team points; meanwhile reigning national champion Penn State is leading with 52 points, followed closely by Nebraska, Missouri, and Oklahoma State.
While the outcome of the first day is obviously not what you want to see, the thing that needs to be remembered is that the vast majority of the starters on this team are true freshman or redshirt-freshmen so they are at an experience disadvantage when facing the the top-tier talent in the country. Also, as I mentioned in my preview piece, it would be extremely difficult for anyone to place, and even win matches seeing as every weight class was littered with ranked grapplers, All-Americans, and even national champions. But, this experience wrestling against ranked opponents and opponents that belong to some of the top programs in the nation will do nothing but help the development of the Bulls.
Check out the full results for all of the matches wrestled today below.
Wrestling will resume at 9 AM tomorrow, January 2nd. Stay tuned to Bull Run for updates on our remaining grapplers, I'll update this post tomorrow with results and analysis.
*****DAY 2 UPDATE*********
After a disappointing first day where 12 of 14 of UB's grapplers were eliminated from competition, senior Max Soria and redshirt-freshman Jason Estevez looked to have strong second days to help UB finish out the weekend strong. Soria, in his first and only match of the day against Kyle Larson of Iowa State, was narrowly defeated in a 3-2 decision. The loss brings Soria's season record to 16-3.
That left only Estevez, the outstanding redshirt-freshman and former top-100 recruit out of Livingston, NJ, to carry the load for the Bulls to try and secure a top-8 finish. In his first match Estevez took on junior Mike Waters of reigning national champion Penn State and handed him a 10-6 decision; an impressive victory for the young stud, and it seemed like momentum was in Estevez's favor heading into his next match against Kade Moss of, you guessed it, Penn State.
However, Estevez's fairytale comeback was cut short in his match against Moss as he was injured and had to forfeit the match. I don't have any details on the injury as of this update, but we'll keep Jason in our thoughts and hope for a speedy recovery.
That ends UB's run in the toughest tournament outside of the NCAA tournament and the results on the mat weren't great, but with a team fielding mostly freshmen, the experience facing top talent will only be beneficial. And from here things don't get much easier for the Bulls as they have a week off before taking on Northern Iowa next Saturday in Cedar Falls, for a pivotal MAC dual.
Dom Forys (PITT) pinned Cory Hollister (UB), 2:20
Tanner Shoap (DREX) maj. dec. Cory Hollister (UB) 12-0
Max Soria (UB) dec. Jake Gromacki (PITT) 4-1
#17 Tim Lambert (NEB) maj. dec. Max Soria (UB) 12-2
Kyle Larson (IAST) dec. Max Soria (UB) 3-2
#18 Nick Soto (CHATT) maj. dec. Sean Peacock (UB) 11-0
Aaron Hansen (CIT) dec. Sean Peacock (UB) 7-4
Jason Estevez (UB) dec. Matt Kelly (ARMY) 9-4
Geo Martinez (BSU) maj. dec. Jason Estevez 9-0
Jason Estevez (UB) dec. Mike Waters (PSU) 10-6
Kade Moss (PSU) inj. def. Jason Estevez (UB)
Justin Cooksey (UB) maj. dec. Mike Stepien (LEH) 11-2
Justin Arthur (NEB) dec. Justin Cooksey (UB) 8-2
Colin Heffernan (CMU) maj. dec. Justin Cooksey (UB) 13-2
Robert Henderson (UNC) dec. Alex Smythe (UB) 9-4
Kamaal Shakur (CHATT) dec. Alex Smythe (UB) 15-9
Luke Goettl (IAST) dec. Wally Maziarz (UB) 5-3
Cody Law (PSU) dec. Wally Maziarz (UB) 2-0
#1 Alex Dieringer (OKST) tech. fall Rrok Ndokaj (UB) 17-2
Jesse Shanaman (CORN) dec. Rrok Ndokaj 2-0
Jordan Rogers (OKST) pinned Austin Weigel (UB) 1:46
McCoy Newberg (CHATT) maj. dec. Austin Weigel (UB) 11-2
#18 Kyle Crutchmer (OKST) dec. Muhamid McBryde (UB) 7-3
McCoy Newberg (CHATT) won SV-1 over Muhamid McBryde
Brett Perry (UB) dec. Kendall Hemmings (CIT) 6-3
#19 TJ Dudley pinned Brett Perry (UB) 3:26
Gray Jones (GW) dec. Brett Perry (UB) 2-0
Cody Dixon (BSU) dec. James Benjamin (UB) 13-6
Owen Scott (CORN) maj. dec. James Benjamin (UB) 10-0
Derek White (NEB) dec. Joe Ariola (UB) 6-2
Owen Scott (CORN) dec. Joe Ariola (UB) 3-0
Collin Jensen (NEB) tech. fall Mike Silvis (UB) 17-2
Nathan Butler (STAN) dec. Mike Silvis 3-0