Maryland wrestling knew one win in its doubleheader against Rider and Ohio would give coach Kerry McCoy 100 wins at Maryland and match the most dual victories (5) for the team since joining the Big Ten.
Having completed its tough conference slate, the team was confident it could earn a pair of wins in its final bouts of the season Sunday, but its opening meet against Rider didn’t go as planned.
The Terps lost the first two matches against the Broncs and only managed three wins overall, coming from 141-pounder Ryan Diehl, 149-pounder Alfred Bannister and heavyweight Youssif Hemida, as well as a forfeit win in the 197-pound class.
That trio has been a consistent source of points for Maryland over the last few dual meets, but with only one ranked wrestler on Rider’s squad, the Terps missed an opportunity to pull away in the other weight classes, and Rider won, 23-18. Maryland bounced back to beat Ohio, 33-14.
“After the first one I just said, ‘They were better than us today.’ We got beat in a couple positions with a couple opportunities we didn’t take advantage of,” McCoy said. “I told them that I liked the fight. I liked the energy [and] the effort and if we bring that to this next match, good things will happen.”
After a short ceremony to celebrate graduating wrestlers Justin Alexander, Patrick Gerish, Matt Pente and Jhared Simmons, the second match started with 125-pounder Brandon Cray. Cray came out firing in hopes of erasing his earlier loss and earned a second-period pin to give the Terps a 6-0 lead.
“I just try to start the team off right,” Cray said. “They just keep the momentum going from there.”
That set the tone for a string of impressive sudden-victory wins throughout the meet.
Bannister earned a win by fall in the first period of his 149-pound matchup against Ohio’s Kade Kowalski, as did Alexander in his last performance as a Terp.
“I kept telling myself before going out there, ‘It’s my last match, it’s my last one,'” Alexander said. “I just went and put it all out there, and it felt good to take the pin.”
Gerish followed suit in the 174-pound class with a victory by pin.
“We’ve been on the other end of those matches a couple times,” McCoy said of the wins by fall. “It was nice to be on this end and scoring bonus points and having guys win and … excited about competing.”
The Terps’ excitement was tempered by Diehl — one of the team’s best performers — taking a hard fall while wrestling Mario Guillen and entering the concussion protocol, unable to complete the match.
Maryland used wins from Brendan Burnham, David-Brian Whisler and Hemida to win the meet 33-14.
“It is really special to finish the year with a win like that,” McCoy said. “I told all the guys I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”