Three Bulls shine at Nittany Lion Open
The classic colors of Penn State, navy blue and white, were on display on the mats this weekend as the wrestling team traveled to University Park, Pa.
The Nittany Lion Open proved to be a major tournament - for the Bulls, over 30 collegiate teams and over 500 wrestlers from up and down the East Coast and around the Midwest.
"To be able to get into a big tournament, with that many competitors and that good of quality, is what you're looking for because we want to train for the [Mid-American Conference] Championships and the NCAA Championships," said head coach Jim Beichner. "And this kind of emulates what those tournaments feel like; they are very strong, very tough and very challenging."
Buffalo entered the weekend with high hopes. The Bulls expected to show the nation they were ready to compete for championships.
Senior Mark Lewandowski continued his strong start to the season, cruising through the opening rounds of the 165-pound bracket.
"[Mark] wrestled extremely well," Beichner said. "He's in great condition and mentally, it's a big bonus when you go to a tournament this big and dominate."
Lewandowski lost for the first time this season in the finals. He was pinned by Penn State's David Taylor, who is a defending national champion at 165 pounds.
"You always want to take first, but he ran into a pretty tough guy in the finals - one of the best in the country," Beichner said. "It was just an outstanding wrestler he ran into in the finals. It was a confidence builder for Mark, and we think he is on track for where we would want him to be this season."
The finals loss snapped Lewandowski's 13-match win streak to start the season.
Redshirt sophomore Max Soria also placed inside the top eight, finishing seventh at 125 pounds. Soria lost his first match of the day, but then a pair of unsuspecting forfeits catapulted Soria into the third round of the consolation bracket.
Soria won two more matches before losing with a chance to take fifth place. Soria finished the day with an 8-3 victory over Robert Montoya to take seventh place.
Buffalo placed one more wrestler before the day was done. Redshirt sophomore Wally Maziarz started off with two wins in his first two matches. He then fell to Nestor Taffur of Boston in the quarterfinal round.
Maziarz picked up two more wins in the consolation bracket. However, he lost his last two matches. The latter of the two came against Taffur once again.
"Maziarz wrestled nine or 10 times in one day, which is unbelievable," Beichner said. "He should have placed seventh, but he got caught up in the last match."
Lewandowski, Soria and Maziarz were the only three Bulls to place in the tournament.
With the beginning of the season over, the Bulls now begin their dual meet season. They will open up MAC play versus No. 12 Central Michigan.
The meet versus the Chippewas will be the 1,000th dual meet in wrestling history, which dates back to 1934.
"I hope it's a memorable [meet]," Beichner said. "Regardless, it's going to be a very challenging match. Central Michigan has been a dominant wrestling program for many years. But we feel like we match up with them pretty well on paper. We are going to go there expecting to win."
The Bulls will travel to Central Michigan this weekend. The meet is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
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