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Lewandowski, Mariacher fall just short

PHILADELPHIA -- They can't claim All-America status, but they can say they were one of the top 12 wrestlers in their weight class, battling on the sport's biggest, brightest stage.

The University at Buffalo's Mark Lewandowski (Lancaster) and American University's Matt Mariacher (Iroquois) fell one match short of a top-eight finish Friday at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in the Wells Fargo Center before 17,340.

During two days of championship competition, the unseeded Lewandowski proved worthy of a spot in his weight's 34-man bracket.

After going 1-1 Thursday, the Lancaster native dropped Corey Mock of North Carolina by a 5-2 decision in Friday's wrestlebacks.

Lewandowski's second wrestleback bout of the day was more like a show, as the redshirt sophomore, making his NCAA championship debut this year, upset fifth-seeded Jesse Dong of Virginia Tech, 7-0.

Buffalo's only wrestler still alive in the second round Friday appeared ready and focused, determined to make his name known in the college wrestling world.

In his third wrestleback round, more commonly known as the All-American round, Lewandowski was scoreless with sixth-seeded Derek St. John of Iowa when he chose the down position in the second period. Lewandowski was unable to escape, giving St. John a 1-0 lead going into the third and final period. St. John scored one last takedown with 37 seconds remaining to jump ahead 3-0. Lewandowski fought his way out with 18 seconds left to get on the board, but it was a little too late as St. John carried his 3-1 lead to the whistle.

Lewandowski wasn't satisfied with his finish, but his head wasn't hanging either.

"I'm disappointed, but at the same time I'm not," he said about his performance in the tournament. "I beat the fifth-seeded guy and almost beat the fourth and sixth-seeded guy. Coming in here not seeded and making it to the round of 12 is nice."

Lewandowski's loss was a slight surprise for Buffalo coach Jim Beichner, who said his wrestler had been on a roll for a while.

"I really thought Mark was going to place," he said. "There have been hot times and cold times for him. But he hasn't been cold for a long time."

Lewandowski has two more years to make his mark at nationals. Beichner said he might just be the most talented guy in Buffalo's wrestling room, and now, one of the best in the country.

The team sent a total of six wrestlers to this year's championships, a program record.

Eleventh-seeded Mariacher, a red-shirt junior at American, like Lewandowski was victorious in his first two matches in the 141-pound division, before falling in the All-American round to fourth-seeded James Kennedy of Illinois.

Buffalo's Kevin Smith (133), Desi Green (149) and John-Martin Cannon (165) were eliminated from the tournament in the day's first round.

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