After 18 seasons, Beichner fired as wrestling coach
UB community responds to long-time coach's termination
Senior Mark Lewandowski wrestles an opponent this season. After 18 seasons of coaching the wrestling team, head coach Jim Beichner was relieved of his duties on Friday. Beichner, who won Mid-American Conference coach of the year in 2011, accumulated 144 dual-meet wins, ranking him second in UB history behind Ed Michael’s 213 career wins. Beichner also helped raise over $98,000 for cancer research. Nick Fischetti /// The Spectrum
On Friday, veteran wrestling head coach Jim Beichner was fired, according to The Buffalo News. Beichner, who was awarded Mid-American Conference coach of the year in 2011, is the second long-time Bulls head coach to be fired in the past two weeks, following former men's basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon.
Beichner could not be reached for comment.
The news came on Friday after four wrestlers had qualified for the NCAA Wrestling Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
In a much-anticipated season with the return of redshirt senior John-Martin Cannon, the Bulls experienced a setback due to many unexpected injuries. Buffalo underperformed, posting an overall record of 1-11 and a 1-4 MAC dual-meet record.
"It's extremely sad, with all he's done for not only our sport here at UB but for the guys on the team and their lives, it's just immeasurable," said former UB wrestler and student-assistant coach Chris Conti. "Our sport doesn't just make great athletes; it makes great people. That's what he stood for."
Beichner took over a Bulls team in the 1995-96 season that had only compiled six dual-meet victories in the previous four seasons. In his second season as coach (1996-97), he led the Bulls to a 12-2-2 record, amassing the most wins for the program in over a decade at the time.
Beichner went on to accumulate 50 wins in his first five seasons and 144 in dual meets, which ranks second (behind Ed Michael's 213 career wins) in UB history.
"He's a good coach and a good guy," said former wrestler Danny Gormley, who transferred and now wrestles at Cortland State. "UB has real good wrestlers coming up through right now that he recruited and he won't even get to coach them all the way through ... It's probably a sad day in the UB wrestling room. The program seemed like his life. He ate, slept and breathed UB Bulls wrestling."
In his 18 seasons, Beichner compiled a 151-120-4 record in dual meets while coaching 43 Bulls to NCAA championships, including redshirt sophomore Max Soria, sophomore Blake Roulo, senior Mark Lewandowski and Martin-Cannon,who qualified this season.
Under the Beichner regime, the Bulls saw seven wrestlers eclipse the 100-win mark. Former wrestlers Desi Green, Jimmy Hamel and Kevin Smith are among the grapplers to accomplish this feat.
"I think it can clearly be said Danny White is wasting no time in his efforts of bringing what he thinks will bring UB Athletics to next level," said Vincent Buttimer, a senior mechanical engineering major and the president of True Blue. "His decisions are definitely bold with his plans for the development of the athletic complexes on campus, the decision of coaches on campus and his overall drive for the athletic department. Any time you take a new direction with anything, you have to make tough decisions to change what you came to always know. I trust Danny White in his efforts to bring the Buffalo program to a national level."
Beichner was also an organizer for the Takedown Cancer event that was held in honor of the late former UB wrestler Jeff Parker, who lost his battle with cancer in May 2010.
"He went even further than his job description and reached out to help people in need," Conti said. "The wrestling team, driven by Beichner, raised over $98,000 for cancer research and set aside $5,000 a year to give to a single family in need. He showed the entire team what it felt like to change [another person's] life and that's something that can't be replaced. And no other team in this country can say they've given that much."
Despite the Bulls' recent record, the legacy Beichner has left on the program was not only his winning prowess but also his ability to give back to the community. According to Conti, that attitude will remain the same.
"This is not the last we will hear of Jim Beichner," Conti said. "He will continue to be the giving and caring man he has been his entire life. He has blessed a lot of lives and will continue to."
Stay with The Spectrum for updates as the search for a new wrestling coach commences.
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