The wrestling team, hailed as potentially the best in school history, was put to the test last weekend when it faced plenty of stiff competition.
Last Friday afternoon, the Bulls (1-1) went up against the No. 8 nationally ranked Oklahoma Sooners (2-0) at Alumni Arena. Buffalo had some strong performances, yet fell as the Sooners captured a 28-7 victory.
The Bulls followed up Friday's loss with a solid performance at the Oklahoma Gold Classic in Brockport on Saturday. Two wrestlers earned individual titles in their respective weight classes.
The opening match of Friday's meet came in the 125-pound weight class. Sophomore Taylor Golba dropped a close 4-1 decision against Oklahoma's No. 9 nationally ranked Jarrod Patterson. Golba's match was one of five that were decided by a margin of four points or less.
The most intense moment of the dual meet came when Bulls No. 11 nationally ranked junior Desi Green went up against Oklahoma's Nick Lester in the 149-pound weight class. The two were evenly matched and no one gained a clear advantage in the three regulation periods, sending the match to overtime.
Overtime threw the crowd into frenzy. After a series of near takedowns, Lester took the match 6-2 on a reversal and a near fall. This loss was Green's first of the season.
"[Green] needs to take better shots [to score points]," said head coach Jim Beichner. "I thought that was the match we should have won. I thought [Green] was the better guy and he lost today."
Most of the matches yielded similar results as the Bulls only won two out of 10 matches on the day.
Buffalo's biggest victory came in the 133-pound weight class. No. 17 nationally ranked junior Kevin Smith dominated Oklahoma's Dustin Reed to win by majority decision, 14-5. Sophomore Mark Lewandowski also had a strong performance at the 165-pound weight class, winning by a score of 4-2 and earning the last victory of the day for Buffalo.
Although the other matches were close, the wrestlers could not get the upper hand on their opponents. The Sooners exploited the Bulls' mistakes while making almost none of their own.
However, Beichner believes that the team did better than what the score indicates. The close matches showed that the Bulls have a great amount of potential.
"What they have to learn is that they are just as good as [Oklahoma]," Beichner said. "We could've easily split the meet 5-5 or won an extra match with a little extra motivation. As soon as [the Bulls] walk out of here and say they are as good as that team… then they'll be fine."
On Saturday, the Bulls finished fifth out of eight teams in the Oklahoma Gold Classic. The Sooners took the tournament title with 145.5 points, while the Bulls finished with 89. Rutgers, Maryland, Clarion, Army, American and Brockport also competed.
Smith followed up his strong Friday performance by moving his way through the 133-pound bracket untouched, winning four straight matches. He topped Oklahoma's Reed for the second time in two days. Smith then topped Oklahoma's Jordan Keller, 9-3, in the final to take the crown.
Green was focused on bouncing back from Friday night's disappointing performance against Oklahoma, and he did just that. Green topped two nationally ranked opponents en route to taking the title in the 149-pound weight class.
He started in the morning, beating Maryland's nationally ranked Dexter Lederer in the first round. Green beat Rutgers' nationally ranked Mario Mason, 4-1, in the semifinals to move on to the weight class final, where he topped Clarion's Anthony White, 4-3.
The title was Green's second tournament victory of the young season. Buffalo had seven other wrestlers place in the top-six in various weight classes.
The team will travel to Cornell for the Body Bar Invitational on Saturday at 9 a.m.