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Freshman gains for UB wrestling

Freshmen working toward bright future for Bulls

wrestling

During the offseason, wrestling team head coach John Stutzman was excited to get his team back into action after the NCAA banned Buffalo from the postseason the year before. Stutzman was excited about returning talent and the strengthening of his coaching staff.

But the one area of he was most excited about was his young players, most notably his incoming freshmen talent.

“Those guys are great,” Stutzman said. “They’re going to be the lifeline of the program for us in the next three, four, five years … We got good things going, but the main goal is keeping them working hard and staying healthy. In any Division-I sport, staying healthy is the key.”

With 14 freshmen on the roster, the Bulls (4-2, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) are set on getting several of them onto the mat to give them their first taste of college wrestling. Stutzman has been pleased with the performance of his young talent thus far.

Along with the national acclaim of being ranked in the top-40 among all Division-I wrestlers, freshman Jake Gunning attended the USA Wrestling World Cup Training Camp. Gunning is off to an 8-2 start to begin his career, and although only 10 matches into his career, he already eyes a national championship at Buffalo.

All he needed was time.

“During my redshirt year, the most important thing was improving my strength,” Gunning said. “I entered Buffalo at 220 and now I’m at the 240/245 range … It was a get tough or don’t do it mentality. [Stutzman] really pushed us and does an excellent job of training us.”

The redshirt process has varied among several freshmen, with some coming in and playing right away, while others needed a year. When recruiting high school wrestlers to UB, Stutzman said he recruits all players like they’re playing that first year, but evaluates them and projects how they’re adjusting to UB before considering a redshirt season for them.

But a redshirt season isn’t a break, according to Stutzman. He expects the same regimen that his active wrestlers endure.

“We want them to work on everything. They wrestle a ton of competition, there’s about 30-40 meets for them in a redshirt year, so they’re competing more than you do as a starter,” Stutzman said. “They get a ton of training time in, I expect them to be in here more than the other guys because you’re not worried about being tired, you’re worried about getting better.”

One first-year wrestler that isn’t redshirting this season is freshman Addrian Ferrerie. The 157-pounder has a record of 4-2 to start his Buffalo career and has made the adjustments from high school wrestling to college wrestling – not an easy task.

One of the adjustments Ferrerie had to make was off the mat. He said scheduling is a tricky variable to master because it varies so much from high school to college. The other area, on the mat is learning how tough and strong college wrestlers are and making adjustments. “I’m continuing to improve, but at first, the college guys were just so much stronger,” Ferrerie said. “I was getting manhandled at first and it took a minute to adjust. I had to adjust to the strength. In high school, you can get away with it because not everyone is experienced, but in college, everyone is a strong and tough wrestler. It was different at the start, but I think I’ve adjusted.”

Heading into the rest of the season, Ferrerie kept it short and simple and said he wanted to “just get better” with every match he goes through. However, Gunning had a larger goal in place.

“I want to win every match from here,” Gunning said, “become a MAC champ, and go after and I can see myself in Madison Square Garden for Nationals. I don’t want this just for myself, but for the entire team because I know how hard we train and we all want it. I believe in coach and I believe in this program, so call it farfetched, but I want to go and win a national championship.”

Quentin Haynes is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at quentin.haynes@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @HaynesTheWriter


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