Wrestling Wins First Conference Dual Meet
The wrestling team won both its matches this weekend against Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Qing Zhang /// The Spectrum
This season has simply been one of struggle for the wrestling team. Despite some strong individual efforts, the team has looked nothing but lackluster for much of the season, as it has gone its first four matches into conference play without anything to show in the win column.
For one day at least, it all came together.
The Bulls (6-14, 1-4 Mid-American Conference) would not be denied a conference victory, putting on one of their most impressive dual meet performances of the season. The squad won the battle of winless teams, beating Northern Illinois (8-9, 0-5 MAC), 23-14.
Despite the poor record, the Bulls do have a number of young wrestlers who have put up solid numbers this season. Although the record isn't what head coach Jim Beichner and the Bulls were hoping for, the performance Saturday is something that he is proud of.
"We've had a long year, we have had a very tough schedule with a young team," Beichner said. "The other day I felt they reached a breaking point and they kind of broke a little bit and I think they bounced back very well."
Buffalo took the lead early and never looked back. Freshman Max Soria dominated the first match of the day with a major decision to give the Bulls a 4-0 lead. For Soria it was a win that shook off some mid-season struggles, as it was his first career conference dual meet victory and his first dual meet victory since Jan. 14.
Freshman Justin Farmer (7-1) and senior Kevin Smith (3-1) followed with wins to give the Bulls a 13-0 lead.
Farmer, a native of Illinois, wowed his hometown crowd, and with his family and friends in attendance, won a critical match that Beichner admitted could have gone either way in the 133-pound weight class.
Buffalo won six of the first seven matches on its way to victory. The lone loss of that streak came in the 149-pound weight class, as freshman Dan Gormley fell mightily to Northern Illinois' Shawn Fayette, 18-3. That momentum from the win wouldn't stay with the Huskies for long, as fellow freshman Wally Maziarz picked up Gormley and the Bulls, putting things right back in Buffalo's favor with a pin.
"It was a 4-1 match at one point and Wally ended up pinning their kid in the third period," Beichner said. "It was a big match, on paper it could have gone down either way and he went out there and pinned him."
Beichner emphasized how important the conference win was for the Bulls going into the MAC tournament. The boost of beating a MAC team will help Buffalo in its mental preparation for the championships.
When the Bulls return from their road trip they will face a two-week layoff before the MAC tournament. Beichner is going to push his athletes' bodies to the limit during the first week to get them in shape.
During the second week he will allow his team to rest to enter the tournament with fresh bodies, and hopes to give the Bulls their best chance to be successful and place well in the conference.
"We need to get [our next] win out of the way and then focus on the MACs," Beichner said. "We need to focus on that."
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