Maryland wrestling entered the NCAA championships with five qualifiers, the most ever under coach Alex Clemsen’s reign.
All five Terps in Tusla, Oklahoma advanced from Day One to Day Two, but Braxton Brown, Kal Miller, Ethen Miller and Jaron Smith all suffered season-ending defeats in Friday’s first session. Jaxon Smith suffered his first defeat as well, setting up a consolation round bout in Session IV against Penn State’s No. 9 Max Dean.
Smith went toe to toe with Dean, but suffered a tight decision loss to deny Maryland an All-American.
Jaxon Smith falls just short
Jaxon Smith entered this season’s NCAA championships the highest-seeded Maryland wrestler and is the last Terp standing in Tulsa.
The redshirt freshman, the No. 11 seed at 197-pounds, had an opening round bout Thursday with Minnesota’s No. 22 Michial Foy. Jaxon Smith scored two takedowns in the bout to win his first NCAA championships 6-3 and advanced to the round of 16.
His next match against North Carolina State’s Isaac Trumble lasted just two minutes and fifteen seconds. Jaxon Smith dominated Trumble with a first period pin to advance to the quarterfinals.
Jaxon Smith entered his quarterfinal bout one win away from an All-American place but was forced to wait by Missouri’s Rocky Elam. The Terp wrestler went down 3-0 early and couldn’t overcome the deficit for his first loss.
Jaxon Smith, one win away from becoming an All-American, had Dean standing in his way.
The Nittany Lions’ wrestler opened the scoring in the second period with an escape and added two more with a takedown. Jaxon Smith scored an escape to end the period and entered the final period with a two-point deficit.
He scored another escape to start the third and tried for the win. But his takedown attempt didn’t stick and he fell, 3-2.
Jaron Smith’s Maryland career ends
Jaron Smith made his second consecutive appearance at the NCAA championships this season, earning an at-large bid and the No. 29 seed. He faced Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi, the No. 4 seed, in the first round.
The Hawkeye wrestler was too much for the eight-year veteran. Cassioppi scored multiple takedowns in a 10-0 major decision victory and dropped Jaron Smith into the wrestleback bracket immediately.
The longest-tenured Terp would need a string of wins to make a run at an All-American place.
He earned his first win of this year’s NCAA championships against No. 20 Konner Doucet of Oklahoma State. The bout was tied at three after two periods but Jaron Smith asserted his dominance in the final frame. He scored a reversal and two back points and took a 7-3 decision to advance to Day Two.
But, Jaron Smith’s long and illustrious Maryland career ended in his first bout of Day Two against No. 14 AJ Nevills.
The two traded escapes but couldn’t find separation, heading to overtime after trading escapes. In the extra period, Jaron Smith had a chance to takedown Nevills and advance but couldn’t secure it.
Nevills secured a takedown of his own for a 3-1 decision that cut short Jaron Smith’s pursuit of an All-American place.
True freshman Kal Miller earns two wins
Kal Miller, the lone true freshman for Maryland to qualify for the national tournament, secured two victories over two days in Tulsa.
Miller, the No. 32 seed in the 141-pound class, opened with a play-in bout against No. 33 Josh Mason of Bloomsburg — who he’d beaten already this season. In their second meeting, Miller earned another decision victory, 4-3.
The win earned Miller a date with No. 1 Real Woods of Iowa.
The 2023 Big Ten champion at 141-pounds advanced by Miller with a major decision victory. Miller dropped into the wrestleback bracket, where he started against No. 16 Josh Koderhandt of Navy.
Miller got revenge on Koderhandt, beating him 5-3 to advance to Day Two.
But his freshman season ended after his next bout, where he fell to Northwestern’s Frankie Tal Shahar by an 8-2 decision.