After going winless in the Big Ten last season and dropping its first conference dual meet against Rutgers earlier in the season, the Maryland wrestling team entered Saturday’s bout against Northwestern without a conference win since 2015.
But in the Terps’ second Big Ten matchup of the season, coach Kerry McCoy’s squad failed to overcome Northwestern, losing 34-12. The Wildcats’ lineup featured four ranked wrestlers.
Maryland started slow with 125-pounder Brandon Cray losing to 12th-ranked Sebastian Rivera.
The Terps then dropped their next three individual matchups, not getting a win until freshman 157-pounder Kyle Cochran handled Shayne Oster. Cochran accumulated four takedowns in his match, adding a fourth straight individual victory to his resume.
Cochran has impressed the Terps in his first few matches as a college athlete. Youssif Hemida, the team’s top wrestler, said Cochran already performs like a veteran.
“He did a good job wrestling in a tough environment against a tough opponent,” McCoy added. “He’s got the mindset of a champion and that’s going to take him a long way.”
165-pounder Brendan Burnham followed Cochran’s individual win with a victory of his own. Burnham secured the win with a last-minute takedown. According to McCoy, after some early-season struggles, Burnham worked with the coaching staff on adjustments to his game, helping him succeed Saturday.
“It wasn’t the most pretty win, but he kept attacking against a tough kid,” McCoy said.
Hemida built on his undefeated season with a late pin, marking his fourth pin of the season and his fourth win against ranked opponents this year. Hemida faced 19th-ranked Conan Jennings, but the 285-pounder said he approaches every match the same, disregarding the rankings of his opponents.
McCoy will look to Hemida to potentially make a splash in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, which McCoy says is “everything” this year.
“It is not about how many wins in dual meets you get, it is not about how many points you score in November or December,” McCoy said. “It is about preparing for the end of the year. We want to be wrestling our best in March.”