Maryland wrestling heavyweight Youssif Hemida had spent the past year determined to become an All-American after coming up one win short last season.
He reached his goal Saturday with a win over Lehigh’s Jordan Wood in the blood round of the NCAA championships to become Maryland’s first All-American since joining the Big Ten before losing his next three matches for an eighth-place finish.
“It was almost like a weight was off my shoulders,” Hemida said. “I’ve been working hard all year long, last year, saying ‘Round of 12, round of 12,’ just constantly in my head, and it was bugging me. So to be able to finally say I’m an All-American is pretty cool.”
With a win over Wood by injury default, Hemida became Maryland’s 19th All-American and first heavyweight All-American since Spencer Myers in 2011. Hemida dominated the beginning of the match against Wood, earning a takedown and riding time early to go up 2-0. Wood then suffered a wrist injury in the first period and was unable to return.
Hemida then lost to Duke’s Jacob Kasper by a 7-2 decision in the quarterfinals, Hofstra’s Mike Hughes by an 8-0 decision and Penn State’s Nick Nevills by a 7-5 decision in the seventh-place match.
The junior previously lost to Nevills 6-1 in the Big Ten tournament and 4-1 during the regular season.
“In all of the matches that he’s had, he’s made improvements,” McCoy said. “We would have liked to finish a little bit higher, had some good matches, just fell a little bit short. But to get to get on the podium and make that step forward is huge.”
Maryland 141-pounder Ryan Diehl and 149-pounder Alfred Bannister each lost in their first matches of the consolation round Saturday, ending their seasons.
Diehl fell to Nebraska’s Chad Red by an 8-3 decision. The Terp lost to Red twice in the Big Ten championships, as well as during the regular season. Alfred Bannister lost by a 7-6 decision to Lehigh’s Cortlandt Schuyler.
“The thing that’s important is that the guys came out, they competed hard and represented well,” McCoy said. “Even though they didn’t earn All-American status … they proved that they can compete at a high level with the best guys in the country.”