University at Buffalo Head Wrestling Coach John Stutzman enters his fourth season guiding a program that had some problems he has had to clean up. The Bulls were barred from the post-season in 2015 due to an unsatisfactory APR. However, the team rebounded a year ago with three national qualifiers, all of whom return, and looks to be on solid footing going forward.
The three national qualifiers in 2016, Bryan Lantry (133), Colt Cotten (149) and Joe Ariola (184), were the most since the Bulls qualified four in 2013. Their 10 dual wins, including victories over Maryland, Lock haven, Clarion and Old Dominion, were the most for the program since they won 11 during the 2000-2001 season. In addition to moving in the right direction on the mat, the Bulls APR increased from 925, when they received their post-season ban, to 935 and now 945 as the Stutzman regime took hold.
The program will look to continue building towards better things in 2016-17. Two of the three returning NCAA qualifiers, Lantry (So) and Ariola (Jr), will do so at their weights from a year ago. However, Cotten (Jr) will move down to 141 pounds. Two other bright spots should book-end the line-up. At 285, sophomore Jake Gunning comes off an 18-12 season where he led the Bulls in takedowns with 41. Another sophomore looking to build off an impressive freshman season is Kyle Akins at 125 pounds. He was 19-13 a year ago, but is going to face a stiff challenge just to make the team. Justin Patrick (Fr) will vie for the spot as well. He redshirted a year ago and won five tournaments, including the National Collegiate Open.
With Cotten moving down to 141, Tommy Forte (Fr) should take over at 149. Forte was also a redshirt last season after an outstanding high school career. He was the prize recruit in Buffalo’s class of 2015. With last year’s starter at 157 pounds, Alex Smythe, possibly redshirting, that weight is wide open. Expect Timmy Schaeffer (Jr) to battle a couple of incoming freshmen, Kobe Garrehay and Logan Moriarity, for the spot. Tyler Rill (Sr) was eighth at Midlands a year ago and should move into the line-up at 165. After him, three-year starter Muhamid McBryde returns for his final year at 174. Senior James Benjamin (197) was much improved last year and looks to take the next step in his final college season.
The University at Buffalo Bulls 2016-17 wrestling schedule features duals against Cornell (Nov 19th), Missouri (Jan 12th), Central Michigan (Feb 5th) and Northern Iowa (Feb 10th) among others. Their tournament schedule kicks off with the Journeyman Classic on November 13th. The following weekend they compete at the New York State Collegiate Championships (Nov 20th). There will be some Buffalo representatives at Midlands (Dec 29th & 30th) while others will attend the Lock Haven Invite on December 30th. The MAC Championships will be in Cedar Falls, Iowa, March 4th and 5th, while the NCAA tournament returns to St. Louis, Missouri, March 16th, 17th and 18th.