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The new man in charge

Alum Stutzman looks to make mark on UB’s wrestling team as new coach

Published: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 18:12

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Courtesy of UB Athletics

John Stutzman's high motor and intense personality led him to become a dominant 150-pound wrestler for the Bulls from 1995-98.

He expects the same effort and drive out of his wrestlers. Stutzman’s training regimen for his team includes practices at 6 a.m. several times a week, where he is known to be vocal even in the early hours of the morning.

“There’s never a time in practice where we’re not going hard or breathing hard,” said junior wrestler Wally Maziarz. “Everything is high pace and high energy and that’s what he’s all about.”

Freshman wrestler Mike Silvis describes Stutzman as “hardcore.” Because of his coaching style, Stutzman has made sure to hire the right type of assistant coaches at every job he has had. He believes he needs assistants who can offset his intense personality.

The wrestling team won just one dual meet last season and lost several of its best wrestlers from last season due to graduation or transfer. The Bulls will return only 10 wrestlers from last year, and over half of team are freshmen (13 of 23). Stutzman knows his team is far from being a contender in the Mid-American Conference this season, but he believes he has a blueprint to turn his alma mater around.

He has reached out to wrestling alumni to get them excited about the team again. He’s also gone out in the community and held wrestling camps and clinics with local coaches. Above all, however, he believes the turnaround will start by recruiting the right type of wrestlers.

Stutzman wants wrestlers who are similar to himself: dedicated. He wants kids who only want to wrestle and go to school. He wants kids who love to wrestle and believe a program will have problems when it recruits kids who don’t love to wrestle. Stutzman believes he’s brought in those types of wrestlers with the team’s recently signed recruits for next season.

The team’s potential success is constantly on his mind. He doesn’t even get peace during sleep. He lies awake in bed at night as thoughts of how to turn around the program and make his wrestlers successful rattle his mind. 

 “I don’t sleep at night trying to figuring out how to make Max Soria a national champion,” Stutzman said. “I don’t sleep at night when I’m thinking about getting Justin Farmer to the national tournament.”

Stutzman’s first experience coaching the Bulls came Nov. 9 at the Oklahoma Gold Invitational. The Bulls finished fourth out of six teams in the tournament. He understands making this team successful will be a process, but believes the team could have performed better.

Stutzman knows this season will most likely be a rebuilding year. But he knows if his team struggles, it won’t be due to a lack of effort. He won’t allow it.

A losing season won’t deteriorate his drive. He is relaxed and confident when talking about reviving the program. He often leans back in his chair and puts his feet on his desk as he speaks in his office.

 “I’m lucky enough to sit in this desk and work here and kind of help guide it,” Stutzman said. “When you watch our guys wrestle, you’re going to know the difference. And I’m not saying it’s going to happen this year. It’s going to take some time. It’s going to be fun to watch, and I want people on board and having fun and letting the fur fly.”

The challenge doesn’t faze him. For a man who’s been all over the world, a challenge that’s closer to home is welcomed.

He has dominated on the mat for the Bulls. Now he will try to dominate off it.

 

email: sports@ubspectrum.com

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