Maryland wrestling’s Jahi Jones was locked in a tight battle in his 157-pound bout against Rutgers’ Michael VanBrill, who was leading 5-4 toward the end of the third period of their match at the Big Ten Championships in Piscataway, New Jersey.
To that point, no Terp had won a bout, but several came close and this was one of Maryland’s best shots of the weekend to do so. Coach Alex Clemsen questioned the refs after VanBrill went up 5-4, but that’s when things spiraled out of control for his wrestler.
Jones turned to the crowd and gestured with his middle fingers, earning the redshirt senior a penalty point deduction — torpedoing Jones’ chances of earning an elusive victory in the Big Ten tournament.
VanBrill would waltz to a 7-4 win, a fitting end to what would be a chaotic weekend for Maryland wrestling, who won one individual bout the entire weekend, finishing last at the Big Ten Championships.
Coming into Saturday, Maryland had several chances to make some noise as Jones, 165-pounder Kyle Cochran, 174-pounder Philip Spadafora and 197-pounder Jaron Smith were the wrestlers to watch coming in.
However, during Session I, the Terps went 0-10 in individual duals, losing at every weight class. There were some close calls though, starting with Spadafora at 174, who wrestled Michigan State’s Layne Malczewski.
The pair previously wrestled when Maryland traveled up to East Lansing on Jan. 19, when the Terps lost 36-0 to the Spartans. Malczewski took the upper hand in that first bout, winning a 3-0 decision. Round two was even more contested.
The two were locked up 4-4 going into the third period as Spadafora had 42 seconds of riding time. However, he was caught and fell victim to a takedown with about a minute left in the bout, eventually falling to a 6-4 decision.
Smith had similar fortunes against Michigan’s Jackson Striggow, tied 3-3 in the third period before Striggow landed a reversal to take a two-point lead. The redshirt junior found a way to escape, closing the lead to 5-4, but after taking an early 2-0 lead with a takedown, he, too, would lose.
It was the second loss Smith faced at the hands of Striggow, falling 4-2 on Jan. 17 when Maryland faced off against Michigan in Ann Arbor.
In wrestlebacks, the road kept getting tougher for the Terps, who couldn’t land a victory until Spadafora came through on Sunday afternoon.
The most consistent Terp on the mat over the weekend, Spadafora lost a close 3-1 bout to Illinois’ Joey Gunther on Saturday night before pulling through in a rematch against Michigan’s Max Maylor on Sunday.
Spadafora won a 5-3 decision over Maylor in their first bout and in this one, he won a 4-2 decision, putting him into the ninth-place match. Facing Wisconsin’s Jared Krattiger, the redshirt sophomore lost a 4-1 bout, placing him 10th in the 174-pound weight class.
Maryland will now have to wait to see what will come of the NCAA Championships to see if any Terp will make their way to Minneapolis in two weeks.