Maryland wrestling is no stranger to close matchups against Navy, its in-state rival.
In the Terps’ last six duals against the Midshipmen, four have been decided by 10 points or less. Maryland grabbed its lone win in those last six matches last season, winning 18-16.
The ability to get bonus points by scoring major decisions, tech falls and pins can tip the balance between a win and a loss in close duals. The same can be said about preventing bonus points being scored against you.
This season’s dual against Navy was no different from the nail-biters of years past. In the 10 bouts on the day, each side won five apiece. Winning the bonus point battle would go a long way in the overall team score.
The Terps did that on Sunday.
Maryland got its first bonus points of the day thanks to No. 12 Jaxon Smith. In a top-30 bout against No. 26 Jake Koser at 197-pounds, Smith was able to flip Koser onto his back early in the first period. He scored a takedown and two near fall points to jump out to a 4-0 lead.
Two more takedowns coupled by an escape and the riding time point gave Smith the 10-2 major decision victory, scoring the first bonus points of the match for the Terps.
“A bonus point or two could change it,” coach Alex Clemsen said. “I think not giving up any just shows that our kids are gritty.”
As the match went on and the score got tighter, it was increasingly clear bonus points would be the deciding factor.
At 125-pounds, No. 23 Braxton Brown continued his roll on the young season with the Terps up 7-6 in the team score.
An even first period led into a dominant second and third period for Brown. Multiple takedowns and near fall points paved the way for a 13-1 major decision victory for Brown, giving Maryland its second bonus point of the dual.
“All the time we put in practicing and all these overtime workouts … [winning] just feels normal and it’s supposed to happen,” Brown said.
One more bonus point came by the way of No. 19 Ethen Miller, who controlled his 140-pound bout with James Latona from start to finish and picked up a 17-4 major decision win.
With three bonus points secured for the Terps, Maryland also avoided conceding any bonus points leading up to the penultimate dual. The Terps would secure victory if they prevented Navy from scoring any bonus points, and Lucas Cordio answered the call.
Cordio couldn’t get anything going against Val Park at 165-pounds. Mustering a takedown in the third period was all he could score, but it was enough to prevent any bonus points for Park. Cordio lost the bout by a 9-2 decision, but clinched the 18-15 victory for the Terps.
“I’m extremely grateful to just have people that are willing to work as hard as anybody in the country … and go out and compete like mad men,” Clemsen said.