Two bouts into its dual with Wisconsin on Sunday, the Terrapins wrestling team appeared poised to challenge a fellow Big Ten bottom dweller. The Terps and Badgers, both vying for their second conference victory, began the event knotted at three.

Yet that’s when the Terps started to struggle. After 157-pound Lou Mascola’s victory tied the bout, the Badgers won six straight bouts to snag a commanding 25-3 lead.

While 133-pound Geoffrey Alexander claimed his sixth straight victory and 141-pound Billy Rappo followed with his first career Big Ten win, the Badgers had already sewn up the dual. The Terps had ended the conference season with one victory.

Heavier wrestlers have struggled in recent weeks, especially those between the 165-pound and 197-pound classes. In four Big Ten matches leading up to and including the Wisconsin dual, Terps grapplers from those classes did not secure a win in 16 bouts. Of those defeats, eight came via a major decision or falls.

Despite these results, the Terps are attempting to implement a more positive and constructive outlook with the Big Ten Championships less than three weeks away.

“We just gotta stay positive,” 197-pound Garrett Wesneski said. “Us upper guys, we have to be talking to each other, stay positive, and getting each other fired up to get a win.”

Wesneski has struggled this season, and prior to the George Mason match, he had dropped his previous five bouts.

McCoy said he met with Wesneski recently to talk about how to get back on the right track.

“Just telling him to believe in the process and believe in the everyday work,” McCoy said. “Just finding something to grasp on and making it a positive. When he does that he’s great.”

Wesneski suffered a one-point loss to Wisconsin’s 197-pound Eric Peissig, but his 15-0 technical fall victory over Cameron Houston of George Mason in the afternoon might have helped push him in the right direction.

“It was good for us to avenge those losses,” Wesneski said. “It was good to go out and dominate him. I was hoping to go 2-0 this weekend, but coming back it’s going to help me going into next week.”

McCoy often starts two freshmen at 165 and 184 pounds in Brendan Burnham and Jaron Smith, respectively. With at least three years left in College Park, McCoy still sees the potential they possess and believes they’ll improve steadily.

In the 174-pound weight class, McCoy has switched between Josh Snook and Derrick Evanovich throughout the season.

Snook won two bouts at the Midlands, but he has failed to register a victory in Big Ten duals. Evanovich, who has found success on the open circuit, hasn’t seen those performances translate against Big Ten wrestlers.

Mascola, as an experienced wrestler in a nearby weight, sees himself as someone who can help these struggling wrestlers discover success. The captain from East Hanover, New Jersey, experienced struggles of his own this season — he lost four straight matches entering Sunday — so he can empathize with his younger teammates and offer advice.

And like McCoy, Mascola said keeping the right attitude can lead to success.

“Negativity is cancerous,” Mascola said. “When you have a positive team moving in the same direction, that’s when great things happen.”