Four Bulls Place at Nittany Lion Open
STATE COLLEGE, PA - Led by Kevin Smith's second-place finish at 141 pounds, the Buffalo wrestling team emerged from its holiday break to perform well at the Nittany Lion Open, hosted by the defending national champions in Penn State. Mark Lewandowski placed fifth at 165 pounds, Chris Conti placed fourth and John-Martin Cannon wrestled unattached for a third-place finish to headline a day with plenty of other solid efforts.
Smith went 4-1 in his bracket and reeled off opening round wins over Columbia's Ryan Ponte, Joe Rendina and Maryland's Louis Mascola. He met Casey Smith of Army in the quarterfinals and dispatched him 4-1 before drawing a familiar opponent in Chris Conti, who was a medical forfeit for the match. Conti was able to wrestle in the third-place match but fell to Maryland's Frank Goodwin for his lone loss of the day after winning two matches in the earlier rounds. Smith moved to the finals and lost a 7-3 decision to Virginia Tech's Zach Neibert.
Lewandowski had the longest road of the day but also won the most matches of any Buffalo wrestler, compiling a 6-1 record with four tech falls and a pin among his victories. After losing to eventual third-place finisher Peter Yates of Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals, the junior rampaged through the consolation bracket with a tech fall over North Carolina's John Michael Staudenmayer 16-1 to start out. The next match he won a tech fall just 1:45 into the first period over Nijel Jones of North Carolina State. To cap off the day, he won a first-period pin of Columbia's Eren Civan to take fifth.
Despite redshirting this season, true senior John-Martin Cannon has been more than a handful for his opponents so far and Sunday was no different as he lost only once, in the semifinals of the 174-pound bracket, and finished third overall. A pin and tech fall were among his three early-round wins before he faced Maryland's Corey Peltier in the quarterfinals. He won 5-2 to earn a matchup with the number two-ranked wrestler in the country at 174 pounds, Ed Ruth of Penn State. Ruth was able to win en route to a tournament title, while Cannon picked up a 7-3 decision in the third-place match over The Citadel's Turtogtokh Luvsandorj.
Now back in the swing of the season, Buffalo (0-5) will open the Mid-American Conference season this Saturday as it welcomes in Central Michigan (6-2, 1-0 MAC). The Chippewas opened its conference slate on Saturday with a 17-15 win over Ohio. Match time is set for 1 pm.