James Benjamin (Buffalo), TOM’s College Wrestler of the Week, is no stranger to upsetting ranked wrestlers. Last season, he pinned then 16th-ranked Shawn Scott (Northern Illinois). This season, he was hunting even bigger game. Benjamin sat and watched as teammate Nate Rose manned 197 against George Mason, winning 15-0 in 3:19, as Buffalo opened their competition at the Grapple at the Garden.
When it was his turn against Princeton, Benjamin was up against the fourth-ranked wrestler in the country, returning All-American Brett Harner. Harner scored a takedown in just 17 seconds and when he put a tough ride on Benjamin, it looked like this one might go the way most expected. The first period ended with James in a 4-1 hole and on the wrong side of 2:03 in riding time. A full-period ride for Benjamin erased the riding time advantage, but the man from Buffalo still needed points as the third-period began in neutral.
A wild scramble, in which it looked like Benjamin might put Harner in danger, then Harner nearly had a takedown, and, eventually, Benjamin emerged with the two points, cut the deficit to 4-3. Princeton thought Harner had scored the takedown during the scramble and the scoreboard reflected that he had throughout the rest of the third period. When Harner escaped, Benjamin just needed one more takedown to even the match, even though the scoreboard showed a 7-3 deficit, and he got it with less than 15 seconds to go. After some discussion, the score was corrected to 5-5 and the match headed to overtime. Overtime didn’t last long as Harner missed on a leg attack, Benjamin pounced and was able to thread his legs in to get the takedown and the upset!