Buffalo lose 19-16 to Northern Illinois
Bulls comeback attempt falls short in tight dual with NIU
UB wrestling had a tight dual meet in Alumni Arena on Sunday afternoon that came down to the final match of the day.
The Bulls (5-10, 2-5 Mid-American Conference) looked like they were going to pull off an incredible comeback before losing 19-16 to the the Northern Illinois Huskies (3-9, 1-5 MAC). Buffalo dropped the first four matches, giving up a 16-0 lead. But they rallied and accumulated five straight victories to tie things up at 16-16.
Sunday began with the 157-pound weight class. Huskies’ sophomore Caden McWhirter pinned freshman Eric Fasnacht in the first period.
Freshman Noah Grover was up next at 165. Grover didn't fare any better, losing a 9-1 major decision. Sophomore Christian Dietrich and redshirt junior Brett Perry both lost decisions at the 174-pound and 184-pound weight classes, respectively.
Joe Ariola was next to the mat and put in a dominating performance as one of the two seniors wrestling Sunday as the Bulls celebrated senior night. Ariola got the Bulls their first win of the day with an 11-3 major decision.
The heavyweight match was one of the closest matchups of the day. Redshirt junior Jake Gunning, currently ranked in the top-20 nationally, faced redshirt sophomore Caleb Gossett. The score was tied 2-2 with less than 30 seconds in the match. Gossett took a shot but Gunning was able to sprawl and spin with just five second remaining to get the takedown and the win.
The 125-pound weight class yielded another tight match. Redshirt junior Kyle Akins’ match was heading to a 2-2 finish. Akins was able to keep top position over sophomore Brock Hudkins the entire last period awarding him the winning point.
The next match saw Redshirt junior Bryan Lantry in control but unable to convert it to points. He made attempts for the pin throughout the third period to try and tie things up in the meet. The last one came just before time expired and redshirt junior Alijah Jeffery retaliated by continuing to go after Lantry following the final whistle.
The only other senior to wrestle for UB on Sunday was 141-pound Jason Estevez. He had five takedowns and came one point short of a major decision that would have given Buffalo it’s first lead of the day.
Freshman Nick Palumbo stepped on the mat with the matchup tied at 16-16. NIU freshman Nolan Baker was able to jump out to the lead in the matchup with a headlock takedown that put Palumbo on his back and earned Baker four points for a near fall. By the end of the first period, Baker locked up an 8-1 lead.
Palumbo came out aggressive in the third and scrambled hard to get back in the match. He wasn’t able to do enough though and Baker secured the win 12-9, giving the Huskies the win for the meet.
This was the final conference meet of the season for the Bulls.
Bulls head coach John Stutzman declined to comment after the match.
Buffalo holds their last home meet of the year on Thursday when they host the Binghamton Bearcats (11-5, 6-1 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association). The match starts at 7 p.m.
Daniel Petruccelli is the sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com