Updated Sat, Jan 25, 2014 2:45 pm
Coming off of a big win against rival Kent State, the Ohio Bobcats (7-2, 3-2) will now shift their attention to the Buffalo Bulls (2-10, 0-3). When the ‘Cats bench looks across the mat on Sunday, they will see one familiar face among many new ones.
Former Ohio assistant coach Quincy Osborn now sits in the Bulls camp, as an assistant coach and the team’s recruiting coordinator. Osborn had spent the last four seasons with the Bobcats and knows the team very well, but Ohio’s grapplers do not think Osborn’s experience with the ‘Cats will give his Bulls much of an advantage.
“He can give them a good synopsis of how we wrestle but when you’re out there on the mat nothing can really help you prepare for that except practice,” Ohio 174-pounder Cody Walters said.
Buffalo head coach John Stutzman picked Osborn out of Ohio and offered the former Bobcat a chance to advance his career.
Stutzman will be just one of the new faces across the mat when the Bobcats and Bulls face off. Stutzman, a former wrestler for the Bulls, took the job after former Bulls coach Jim Beichner was fired following a disappointing 2012-13 season. Along with Osborn, Stutzman added Bryce Hasseman to his staff.
Though the Bulls carry some experienced wrestlers, they could potentially send six freshmen to the mat against the Bobcats.
Buffalo lost several key wrestlers to graduation last year, including John-Martin Cannon and Mark Lewandowski. Both qualified for the NCAA tournament three times in their tenures with the Bulls. Lewandowksi compiled an impressive 111 wins at Buffalo, but he has since moved on to become an assistant coach at Seton Hill. Cannon has stuck around as a volunteer coach with the Bulls.
Buffalo’s most notable returning wrestlers are redshirt juniors Max Soria, 125 pounds, and Wally Maziarz, 165. Last year Soria strung together 25 wins on his way to qualifying for the national tournament. Maziarz won 23. Through this point in the season however, the Bulls are led by redshirt junior Angelo Malvestuto, 197, with 15 wins.
Buffalo’s relative youth has been cause for some growing pains throughout the 2013-14 campaign, as it has suffered some very lopsided defeats.
A young team trying to find its identity, Buffalo serves as a contrast to an experienced Ohio team that was there not too long ago, when Osborn joined head coach Joel Greenlee’s staff.
“I definitely think he misses us because he helped start something great here,” Walters said. “We’re continuing to get better and better and it’s something he always wanted. Now he’s at Buffalo and they’re not having a great start.”
Ohio should be favored in most every matchup except for the 125 slot. If Soria takes the mat for the Bulls, he could give KeVon Powell a tough bout. The Bobcats should be considered the favorite to come away with the win, but according to Ohio’s heavyweight, his team still needs to be ready. “We can’t overlook them,” Jeremy Johnson said. “They might not be as talented as us, but that’s why we wrestle. You’ve got to be ready to go when you step your foot [in the circle].”
Ohio and Buffalo will step on the mat in Buffalo, N.Y., at 1 p.m. on Sunday.