"Good times, bad times"
It was a bittersweet tournament for the wrestling team last week.
Buffalo finished in sixth place among 11 teams that entered the Body Bar Invitational at Cornell University's Newman Center, with sophomore 133-pounder Kevin Smith and junior 197-pounder Jimmy Hamel posting top three finishes.
However, 149-pound sophomore Desi Green, who at the time was the Bulls' highest nationally ranked grappler, lost in the second round and had to medically forfeit a match in wrestlebacks.
Head coach Jim Beichner was content with his team's overall performance against their highest level of competition yet.
'As a team, it was a great tournament,' Beichner said in a press release. 'This was the best competition we have seen all year. With that being said, we have a lot of work ahead of us. We have a young team that is committed to working hard. There were many positives we can walk away with from the event.'
One of those positives was Smith's performance. He earned the Bulls' top individual finish by capturing second place in the 133-pound weight class.
'Kevin was the highlight of the tournament for us,' Beichner said. 'He is taking it one step at a time and is stepping up to the challenge every time he steps on the mat.'
Smith scored three consecutive victories at the tournament. En route to the championship bout, Smith faced off against Mike Grey of Cornell, who is ranked sixth nationally and earned All-American honors in 2008. Smith dominated Grey throughout the match, earning himself an 8-5 decision and a spot in the championship bout.
'[Smith] is starting to believe that he is a top-six wrestler,' Beichner said. 'And defeating the top-six wrestler in the nation will only make him believe it more and more.'
Smith's run ended in the championship round. Smith battled against Danny Mitcheff of Kent State, the 11th nationally ranked wrestler, for three periods but couldn't pull his second upset of the day. Mitcheff earned a 6-3 decision over Smith, making him the champion of the 133-pound weight class.
Smith jumped in the national rankings due to the impressive results, climbing from No. 20 to No. 11 in his weight class.
Hamel placed third in the 197-pound weight class after finishing in sixth place in 2008 and fifth place in 2007. Hamel lost to fifth nationally ranked Cam Simaz of Cornell in the semifinals. Hamel lost by a technical fall to the 2009 All-American at 5:16.
Sophomore Desi Green finished in sixth place in the 149-pound weight class. Clarion's James Fleming upset Green, 5-3, in double overtime. Green bounced back to defeat Ithaca's Blaine Woszcazak, 8-6, before medically forfeiting his next match.
With the overtime loss, Green fell in the national rankings from No. 15 to No. 19.
Freshman 174-pounder Matt Bogardus also recorded a sixth-place finish. After losing to Wyoming's Dallas Hintz, 5-4, in the opening round, Bogardus won three consecutive matches, including beating teammate Brian Sheehan by decision, 5-3. However, Kent State's Keith Witt pinned him in 47 seconds in his last bout.
Beichner saw the opening round loss as a lesson for Bogardus to learn from.
'Matt did not have a great tournament,' Beichner said. 'He takes losses hard and that is important. We want that attitude in our wrestlers. We are glad that he was upset and that he wants and expects more of himself. We want expect more of him too.'
Buffalo finished in sixth place with 54 points, matching their all-time best finish in the tournament from 2007. No. 20 nationally ranked Kent State won the tournament with 147.5 points, with No. 4 ranked Cornell and No. 10 ranked Maryland tying for second with 109 points apiece.
Buffalo has a week off before its next competition. The Bulls will travel to Primm, Nev. to compete in the Las Vegas Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
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