It's been a long, tumultuous season filled with ups and downs for the UB Wrestling team, and as they take to the mat for the final time in Alumni Arena this season later today, we're going to honor Max Soria and Wally Maziarz the two senior team captains that have been rocks for head coach John Stutzman.
Max Soria - 125 pounds - King's Park, NY
Senior Year: So far, Max has had a stellar senior season with a 20-7 record heading into the final two duals of the year. At one point, Soria was ranked as high as #12 in the nation on TheOpenMat.com's rankings. Max is currently first on the team in most statistical categories: wins (20), takedowns (30), and riding time points (4).
Before UB: Before making the 8 hour trip up to Amherst, Soria had offers from some of the top programs in the nation in Ohio State, Iowa and Edinboro. Soria also had a decorated prep career: he was the NHSCA National Champion his senior year at 106 pounds, and a runner-up in the Fargo Freestyle Nationals. He was a standout for the Kingsmen and was a two-time NY State placefinisher and a member of team New York, he was also a top 10 recruit in the nation.
UB Career: After redshirting in his first year, Soria stepped into the starting lineup at 125 pounds and never looked back. He upset #20 Nick Smith of Northern Illinois in the MAC Tournament to secure his first trip to the NCAA tournament, to go along with his 21-win campaign. Then, in his sophomore year, Soria continued to dominate, winning 25 matches, including a 4-1 record in the MAC, en route to a second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. Last season was mired by injuries, but Max still finished with a winning record at 14-12. Max will go down as one of the most decorated wrestlers in UB history - if he wins his final 2 matches, he will be tied with John-Martin Cannon for 16th all-time in wins, and his 101 takedowns have him 11th all-time needing only 2 more to break into the top 10. Max's 11 falls is also good for 10th all time in the UB record books.
Senior Moment: After three heartbreaking attempts at winning a New York State Collegiate Championship, Soria's shining moment of the season was dominating his way through the competition to capture his first NYS championship; he was also the first Bull to win a NYS championship since Mark Lewandowski in 2012.
Wally Maziarz - 157/174 pounds - North Tonawanda, NY
Senior Year: An offseason injury made it seem like his senoir season would be over before it started. But, the grit and determination that has helped him so much throughout his career brought him back and he currently sits with a record of 6-14. Wally has jumped around between 157 and 174 an has performed admirably even when he hasn't been at 100%.
Before UB: Before coming to UB, Wally was a local standout at North Tonawanda High School where he was the all-time leader in wins. He wasn't heavily recruited out of high school due to an injury plagued senior season, so he had to walk on at UB.
UB Career: After earning a spot on the team as a walk on, Wally was redshirted his freshman season and earned All-America status at the 2011 University Greco-Roman Nationals. Wally then earned the starting job at 157 and won 13 matches and placed 6th at the NYS Collegiate championships. He finished the 2012-2013 season with a career best 23 wins, good enough for 3rd on the team. Last season he finished the season 13-20 while jumping back and forth between 157 and 165 pounds. Wally has always been a hard-working and hard-nosed wrestler with grit and a winning attitude, jumping back and forth through different weight classes and taking it all in stride.
Senior Moment: After a series of 6th place finishes at the NYS Championships, Wally made it to the championship match and ultimately finished 2nd.
Even moreso than normal, huge thanks are in order to Max and Wally, who stayed with the program even in light of this year's postseason ban. As the program improves over the next few years, we'll remember these two seniors who helped lead 2014-15's young and growing team before the machine really got churning.
Congratulations to Max and Wally on having great careers, we wish you all the best in your future endeavors!