Coming off a 2-1 weekend at the Northeast Duals in Albany, New York that saw John Stutzman's young team dominate Springfield and eke out a win over Lock Haven, UB is heading into it's first tournament action of the season this weekend. The Bulls will be heading to Cornell for the annual New York State Collegiate Wrestling Championships where 28 schools from small community colleges all the way to D-I schools gather to see who the best of the best is in New York State. The tournament is split into an "A" and "B" bracket with the "A" bracket being the primary bracket and the "B" bracket being the open bracket where wrestlers who are redshirting can compete without burning a redshirt.
Last season the Bulls placed Max Soria, Jason Estevez, Wally Maziarz and Joe Ariola into the "A" bracket finals with only Soria claiming gold at 125 pounds. In the "B" bracket the Bulls placed Austin Weigel, James Benjamin and Jake Gunning into the finals, with Gunning and Benjamin take home first place.
For this weekend I'll highlight who could be wrestling in the "A" and "B" brackets at each weight for UB and any ranked opponents that will likely be in their respective brackets.
Note: The rankings I used are from wrestlingreport.com and are as of 11/17. I also picked one wrestler at each weight for each bracket to represent UB, however, in the past there have been multiple wrestlers representing UB at the same weight and all weights may not be represented in the open brackets.
Projected "A" Bracket Wrestler: Kyle Akins, R-Fr., 3-2
Projected "B" Bracket Wrestler: Justin Patrick, Fr., 9-4
Ranked Wrestlers: #16 Dalton Macri - Cornell
Kyle Akins has been as good as advertised so far in his first full season as a starter for UB, the former Illinois state champion currently sits with a 3-2 record. His primary competition will come from Cornell's Dalton Marci who is currently #16 on wrestlingreport's rankings. Macri is a fellow freshman who is a former Pennsylvania state runner-up and top 50 recruit nationally. Akins will likely be competing for the championship with the scrappy wrestler from Cornell and will definitely be a must-watch.
On the open side, Justin Patrick will likely look to add to his already growing resume during his redshirt season. This past weekend Patrick claimed gold at the East Stroudsburg Open going a perfect 5-0 on the day. With his recent dominance Patrick should be able to make some noise in the open bracket and take home at minimum a top 3 finish.
Projected "A" Bracket Wrestler: Bryan Lantry, R-Fr., 4-1
Projected "B" Bracket Wrestler: Blake Retell, R-Fr., 0-2
Ranked Wrestlers: #3 Nahshon Garrett - Cornell, #33 Angelo Amenta - Columbia
One of three wrestlers to go 3-0 at the Northeast Duals, Lantry is coming into this weekend red-hot with his only loss of the season coming to former ACC runner-up and NCAA qualifier Tyler Goodwin of Maryland. However, this weekend the toughest competition in his bracket will come from Cornell's Nahshon Garrett. Garrett is a three-time All-American and former national runner-up for the Big Red and is highly experineced on the mat. But, Lantry should still be able to stand on the podium at the end of the day, Lantry had previously upset #32 Rob Rehm of Lock Haven so he's played spoiler before.
Retell is the strongest candidate to compete in the open bracket as he competed in this tournament last season finishing with a 4-1 record and a 5th place finish in the "B" bracket.
Projected "A" Bracket Wrestler: Jason Estevez/Brandon Lapi, R-So./R-Fr., 1-1/4-3
Projected "B" Bracket Wrestler: Sean Peacock, So., 6-4
Ranked Wrestlers: #19 Jamel Hudson - Hofstra, #26 Mark Grey - Cornell
I'm putting both Estevez and Lapi together in the "A" bracket for now because they have both seen time in the main lineup this season. Estevez is an even 1-1 after competing at the Terrapin Duals and losing out in a close 1 point decision to nationally ranked Alfred Bannister of the host Terrapins. Estevez is one of two returning Bulls to have reached the finals in last year's tournament and if given the opportunity I'm certain Estevez would like to avenge his 7-2 loss to #19 Jamel Hudson of Hofstra. Lapi on the other hand, finished 3rd in last year's "B" bracket after losing in the semifinal in sudden-death overtime. Lapi is at 4-3 on the season and was 2-1 this past weekend at the Northeast Duals with his lone loss coming to #10 Dan Neff of Lock Haven.
Peacock is looking like he will redshirt this season to help relieve the logjam at 141 pounds after he moved up a weight class after finished 2nd on the team in wins last season. Peacock is 6-4 in open competition this season and would likely be competing for a championship in the open bracket.
Projected "A" Bracket Wrestler: Colt Cotten, R-So., 5-0
Projected "B" Bracket Wrestler: Tommy Forte, Fr., 5-0
Ranked Wrestlers: #33 Joey Galasso - Cornell
Since bursting onto the scene last season after coming back from a horrific knee injury, Cotten has been a wrecking ball so far this season. At the Northeast Duals this past weekend Cotten was a perfect 3-0 with 2 major decision victories and a win by technical fall. There doesn't seem to be too much competition in the bracket outside of #33 Joey Galasso of Cornell who is a true freshman, so Cotten will be competing for a championship this weekend and will look to keep his unbeaten streak alive.
Forte, on the other hand, was one of the blue chip recruits from this season's incoming class ranked in teh top 10 in the country in his weight and in the top 100 overall. Forte competed in the East Stroudsburg Open this past weekend and like fellow freshman Justin Patrick, took home gold and will look to do the same this weekend.
Projected "A" Bracket Wrestler: Tim Schaefer, R-So., 2-3
Projected "B" Bracket Wrestler: James Devine III, So., 1-2
Ranked Wrestlers: #9 Dylan Palacio - Cornell, #24 Markus Sciedel - Columbia, #26 Russell Parsons - Army
Due to the injury of Alex Smythe in the preseason, Clarion transfer Tim Schaefer has been pressed into action in the starting lineup and he's performed admirably so far with 2 victories. His bracket, however features three ranked grapplers, including Russell Parsons of Army who Wally Maziarz faced in the 157 pound championship bout in last season's tournament.
Devine, like Schaefer, however Devine came to UB from D-III Brockport and is currently 1-2 in open competition. Devine will likely see some time in the open bracket to get him more on mat experience.
Projected "A" Bracket Wrestler: Tyler Rill, R-Jr., 4-1
Projected "B" Bracket Wrestler: Ryan Kromer, R-Fr., 5-5
Ranked Wrestlers: #12 Duke Pickett - Cornell, #26 Tyrel White - Columbia
After starting last season 2-0 before succumbing to a season-ending injury, Tyler Rill has gotten back on track at 165 pounds this season. His lone loss on the season was to Tim Wheeling of #19 West Virginia. Rill has also been a takedown machine so far, leading the team with 13 takedowns through the first 2 weekends of competition. Rill will face some stiff competition in Cornell's Duke Pickett and Columbia's Tyrel White, but a top-4 finish seems likely for the Maryland native.
In the "B" bracket, Kromer will look to improve on his top 4 finish from last weekend's East Stroudsburg Open. Kromer is at an even 5-5 through two open tournaments this season.
Projected "A" Bracket Wrestler: Muhamed McBryde, Sr., 3-1
Projected "B" Bracket Wrestler: Austin Weigel, R-So., 4-3
Ranked Wrestlers: #5 Brian Realbuto - Cornell, #24 Ryan Harvey - Army, #28 Jack McKeever - Binghamton, #33 Zach Hernandez - Columbia
Muhamed McBryde has gotten off to a fast start in his senior season, earning a 3-1 record so far. McBryde will have one of the toughest brackets in the tournament that features last year's NCAA runner-up at 157 pounds Brian Realbuto from Cornell, and nationally ranked Ryan Harvery, Jack McKeever and Zach Hernandez of Army, Binghamton and Columbia respectively. McBryde was a place finsiher in last season's tournament and even with the stiff competition a top 8 finish isn't out of the question for the senior.
Weigel will likely get the call in the "B" bracket, however he did comepte in the match against Lock Haven at the Northeast Duals, so there may be a chance that he sees time in the "A" bracket this weekend.
Projected "A" Bracket Wrestler: Joe Ariola, R-So., 4-1
Projected "B" Bracket Wrestler: Brett Perry, R-Fr., 2-2
Ranked Wrestlers: #1 Gabe Dean - Cornell, #23 Steve Schneider - Binghamton
After making the move down to 184 pounds full time after late season success at the weight last year Ariola has gotten off to a hot start as well with a 4-1 record, his only loss coming to a ranked opponent from West Virginia. Ariola is the other returning finalist from last year's squad and if he makes it back this year he'll be facing one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the nation in Cornell's Gabe Dean. Dean is the returning NCAA national champion at 184 pounds and is coming off of a 43 win season for the Big Red. Ariola has an excellent chance to make it to the final but there he'd be in an uphill battle against one of the very best in the nation.
Perry is likely to see time in the "B" bracket if Coach Stutzman does field a man in the open bracket. Perry saw time in the regular lineup last season when injuries decimated the Bulls' depth and is a redshirt candidate this season with Ariola ahead of him in the lineup.
Projected "A" Bracket Wrestler: James Benjamin, R-Jr., 3-2
Projected "B" Bracket Wrestler: Nate Rose, Fr., 3-4
Ranked Wrestlers: #22 Jake Taylor - Cornell, #24 Bryce Barnes - Army
James Benjamin has been a regular in the Bulls' starting lineup since his true freshman season and has really started to breakthrough in his 2nd year at 197 pounds. Benjamin's two losses on the season were both 1 point decisions to nationally ranked opponents; he also clinched the Bulls' first victory over a Big Ten oppoent when he dominated Garrett Wesneski to the tune of an 11-2 major decision. Benjamin won the championship in last year's "B" bracket and will look for a top 3 finish in this year's "A" bracket. He'll need to get by nationally ranked opponents in Jake Taylor and Bryce Barnes to claim a top 2 spot, but with the way Benjamin has been wrestling anything is certainly possible.
On the open side, Nate Rose will likely get the call for the Bulls. Rose, the other blue chip recruit in Stutzman's 2015 class, has shown promise between the tournaments he's competed in so far this season and will look to compete for a championship as Benjamin did a year ago.
Projected "A" Bracket Wrestler: #26 Jake Gunning, R-Fr., 4-1
Projected "B" Bracket Wrestler: Ian James/Nolan Terrance, So./Fr., 0-0
Ranked Wrestlers: #23 Garrett Ryan - Columbia, #24 Mike Hughes - Hofstra, #32 Jeramy Sweany - Cornell
The only UB grappler to be ranked by any outlet, Jake Gunning has been a revelation at the 285 weight class for John Stutzman. Coming off of a 28-8 season as a redshirt last season, Gunning is off to a 4-1 start and his 5-0 win over Brad Emerick of Lock Haven sealed that win for the Bulls. He will be surrounded by several other ranked guys in his bracket, but Gunning should be a favorite to come away with a top 2 finish after winning the championship in the "B" bracket just a year ago.
No other grappler has seen time for UB at 285 in open competition so it's a tossup between sophomore Ian James and true freshman Nolan Terrance for who will compete for UB in the open bracket, if at all. James saw time in the lineup last season but has been displaced by Gunning, while Terrance is a former New York high school state champion and will be getting on the mat for the first time for UB.
Coach Stutzman said to Paul Peck in his weekly update that he will need to sit some guys this weekend to get them healthy but did not specify any names. So, any of the names I mentioned above may or may not be competing this weekend. Wrestling is scheduled to start at 9 am and you can follow along on trackwrestling.com and right here on Bull Run.