Torres Signs With UB
Bulls Add JCC Sophomore, Cassadaga Valley Graduate
Prior to a fifth-place finish at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association wrestling championships his senior year, Dan Torres wasn’t sure he wanted to continue his wrestling career.
He was ready to move on to the next phase of his life and athletics were not going to be a part of it.
Fast-forward two years and the Cassadaga Valley graduate is on his way to the University at Buffalo — an NCAA Division I program — with a partial scholarship to wrestle for the Bulls.
“Coming out of high school … a month after finishing fifth at states, I felt like I had more to accomplish,” Torres said Wednesday afternoon. “That’s kind of how I feel this year.”
Torres became the second Jamestown Community College student-athlete to sign a national letter of intent with a Division I program last Friday when he declared his intentions to attend the suburban Buffalo university to major in criminology.
“For us it’s huge. Dan always had the talent and the potential, it was just a matter of gaining experience at a higher level,” Jamestown CC head coach Kris Schimek said Wednesday night. “Dan has the work ethic, but he’s nowhere near his peak … even after two years he isn’t. It just goes to show if you come here, we’re going to get you to that next level if you buy in.”
The commitment caps a successful two-year stint with the Jayhawks that featured Torres wrestling at the NJCAA national tournament twice, including an All-American finish of second place at 174 pounds this year.
“Originally, I wasn’t sure if I was going to wrestle these next two years. I was going to finish my associate degree at JCC and go right into the police academy,” Torres said. “When UB started contacting me, it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
As a sophomore, Torres set the Jayhawks’ single-season record for wins with 42 and eventually became the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class nationally.
“I’ve had a lot of great coaches throughout my wrestling career and most of my success is thanks to them,” Torres said. “My coaches and my family were always there to support me. My practice partners have pushed me and my coaches have had faith in me.”
After watching him dominate throughout the season, Schimek became certain Torres could wrestle at the Division I level when he watched him win the title at the JCC Open in late January.
“Dan was a little banged up, but in the semifinals he earned a major decision over a redshirt kid from Mercyhurst,” Schimek recalled. “I told him after the semifinals, ‘You’ve had a good tournament, but if it’s up to me you aren’t going into the finals. This is your last ride and there are potential dangers that would make it so you can’t wrestle at nationals.’ He’s an adult so I let him make his own decision. He talked to his family and about 15 seconds later he told me he was going to wrestle. It was maybe the best match he’s ever wrestled.”
Torres is just the latest All-American in Schimek’s short time leading the program. In just four years at the helm, Schimek has coached three All-Americans. Nate Skonieczny took third at 149 pounds in 2018 before moving on to a coaching career. Cameron Page became a two-time All-American for the Jayhawks, taking seventh in 2018 and third in 2019 at 184 pounds.
“Hats off to Schimek. He’s working on building a great program. He’s had incredible success as a head coach with an All-American every year,” Torres said. “It was a great stepping stone to get to that next level. College wrestling in general was a whole new world. … It’s a huge jump. … I wouldn’t be able to do anything like this coming out of high school.”
Ironically, Page came from the same Falconer/Cassadaga Valley high school program as Torres. Both were coached by the Drew Wilcox, who has turned the Golden Cougars into a perennial New York state power at both the dual meet and individual level.
“I’m pretty good friends with Coach Wilcox and I have a lot of respect for him. He does a fantastic job and puts in an astronomical amount of time with scouting, coaching and workouts while being a friend and coach at the same time,” Schimek said. “Dan and Cameron were good friends, but I think being close with Coach Wilcox really helped get them here. He trusts me with guys that could go Division III or Division II right off the bat. I appreciate him for that.”
With the Bulls, Torres will likely wrestle at the 174-pound weight class.
Buffalo is coached by alumnus John Stutzman. He just finished his seventh season after coaching at Bloomsburg (Pa.) University for eight seasons.
“They’re trending up. I didn’t know Coach Stutzman for a while and he’s a little hardcore,” Schimek said. “As I get to know him, I like him a lot. We have similar styles. If you buy in and do the right things, he’ll do anything for his guys. This guy is going to be perfect for Dan.”
According to the University at Buffalo athletics website, in 2018-19 Stutzman led the Bulls to their most successful season since joining the Mid-American Conference in 1998. UB’s 12 dual wins tied its most since 2004 and its five conference wins were its most since joining the MAC. Two Bulls were MAC champions and Buffalo produced six national qualifiers.
UB finished second at the 2019 MAC Championships, its highest finish in program history, and Stutzman was named MAC Coach of the Year.
Currently listed at 174 pounds on the Buffalo roster are freshman Bryson Alsteen of Kaukauna, Wisconsin; and redshirt sophomore Jake Lanning of Pontiac, Illinois.
“I haven’t really met any of the guys. There are a couple of Section VI guys and some other guys from New York state,” Torres said. “We haven’t really talked about who I’ll compete with at that spot. I’ll go up there, work my butt off and see what I can do.”