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A Look Back at the Buffalo Bulls' Other National Champions

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Jon Jones broke numerous records and brought UB it's first ever Division I National Championship; however, he wasn't UB's first ever national champion. Let's take a look at UB's national champions from the D-III era.

If you've been paying even the slightest attention to anything UB related in the past few weeks you'd know that Jon Jones did what no other Bull had done in UB's Division I history: bring home a National Championship to Amherst. The honor and praise that he's recieved over the past few weeks is well deserved, and if you ask me I'd argue he'd give Khalil Mack a run for his money for the title of "Greatest Bull of All Time".

But what most Bulls fans might not be aware of is that Jones was not the first National Champion in the entire history of UB Athletics - in fact UB had a team national champion and a few individual champions back in the Division III days. And if you're a regular reader on the site you'll know that my area of expertise is in wrestling and it should come to no surprise that the other National Champions in UB's history are from the wrestling program.

Ed Michael, the architect behind the UB wrestling dominance of the 1970's and 1980's at the D-III level produced numerous NCAA All-Americans, two National Champion wrestlers, and brought home the 1977-78 NCAA National Championship.

I think its time we gave Coach Michael and his wrestlers some much needed time in the spotlight - both to serve as reminder of where the Athletics Department has come from, but to show give a glimpse into the championship future that the department is in the process of building.

1977-78 UB Wrestling Team - NCAA National Champions

In the 1977-78 season, Ed Michael had assembled one of his best squads from top to bottom and it showed with a 13-3 regular season record and it culminated with six of his ten wrestlers earning All-American status and the Division III team National Championship.

The Bulls eked out the championship with 91.75 team points over runner-up Millersville who had 90 team points - mind you, the Bulls also won the team title without having an individual champion, a testament to the old saying that every match matters.

Michael's six All-Americans were:

  • Mike Jacoutot - 2nd, 126 lbs
  • Kirk Anderson - 3rd, 150 lbs
  • Bruce Hadsell - 5th, 158 lbs
  • Dave Mitchell - 4th, 177 lbs
  • Jeff Wheeler - 4th, 190 lbs
  • Paul Curka - 3rd, HWT
With the exception of Paul Curka who would be the runner-up in the heavyweight weight class the following year, the other five All-Americans were only on the podium at the national tournament once.

Tom Jacoutot - 1979-80 NCAA Champion, 118 lbs

From the famed Jacoutot wrestling family from Trenton, New Jersey - Tom was one of five brothers that all won championships and placed numerous times at the New Jersey High School tournament back in the 1970's, but Tom did something that all of his brothers, including older brothers Mike and Bill, who also wrestled for UB, failed to do - win an individual national championship.

After placing 3rd in the 1978-79 national tournament at 118 lbs, Jacoutot claimed gold the following year at 118 lbs with a dominating pinfall victory in the final over Ed Bailey of Salisbury becoming the first individual champion in UB history. And for his efforts in the national tournament Jacoutot was also awarded Most Outstanding Wrestler, the only Bull ever to receive the award.

Jacoutot finished the season 28-4, still good for 6th all time in the single-season overall win percentage records; his 63-13-3 career record is also still good for 3rd in career win percentage. Jacoutot also ranks highly in some of the individual statistical categories such as: near-falls (season and career), takedowns (career), and reversals (career).

Steve Klein - 1985-86 NCAA Champion, 167 lbs

The second individual champion in UB's wrestling history, Klein defeated Steve Hile of Ithaca a year after placing 3rd at 167 lbs. Klein may not have earned Most Outsatnding Wrestler accolades like Tom Jacoutot did, but, Klein is still one of the most decorated wrestlers in UB history.

Besides being a two-time All-American and a National Champion, Klein's name can be found in just about every individual statistical category including career win percentage where Klein is still first overall with a 62-10 record for a .861 win percentage.

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So there's a brief look back at the former national champions who helped pave the way for Jon Jones' historical shot put national title, and will hopefully serve as a reminder that all programs, both revenue and non at UB are capable of accomplishing great feats.