To see the steady improvement in University at Buffalo’s wrestling, look at its non-conference schedule the last few years. Two years ago, Oklahoma came to Alumni Arena. Last year it was Michigan.
Tonight at 7, the Bulls will host one of the sport’s traditional powers, Iowa, in a dual meet.
“We’re trying to build a program and programs like Iowa are recognizing that we’re doing a good job and developing a good team,” UB coach Jim Beichner said. “Teams like Iowa are starting to show up [on the schedule] and a few years ago, that wasn’t happening. It’s a good sign for our program that Iowa is willing to come to Buffalo and wrestle us.”
The fifth-ranked Hawkeyes raised their record to 9-0 in dual meets Sunday, shutting out Hofstra and routing Bucknell, 34-9, winning 18 of 20 matches, as part of the inaugural “Grapple at the Garden” held at Madison Square Garden.
Two-time national champion Matt McDonough (125) and last season’s national runner-up Derek St. John (157) come to Buffalo as the top-ranked wrestlers in their weight class. In all, six Iowa wrestlers are ranked in the top eight nationally in their respective weight classes.
“In order for us to improve and get to the next level, you have to schedule the best opponents you possibly can and Iowa is one of the best, if not the best, in the last 50 years,” Beichner said. “My expectations are that the guys will be excited about having the University of Iowa in their home gym and having the opportunity to go out, wrestle, compete and beat the best. I expect them to go out and find ways to win.”
Sounds like a tall order, especially since Buffalo lost its lone dual meet of the season, 28-7, to 11th-ranked Central Michigan. But the Bulls lost five of those matches by two or fewer points. Three UB wrestlers are nationally ranked this week. Mark Lewandwoski (165) is ranked 22nd, Angelo Malvestuto (197) is 26th and John-Martin Cannon (174) is 31st.
The match will also serve as the fourth annual Takedown Cancer event, a fundraiser for the Jeff Park Foundation and Carly’s Club at Roswell Park. The event begins at 5 p.m. with raffles and auctions, including a grand prize of two round-trip tickets on Delta to anywhere in the United States. Other major prizes include a dinner for 10 at Ilio DiPaolo’s and Bills tickets.