Before he came to Maryland, Seth Nevills hadn’t been a key part of a team for a while.
Nevills, who joined Penn State in 2019 as a four-time California state champion with a prep school record of 169-1, was a starter for his true freshman season and a majority of his sophomore year before losing his spot to Greg Kerkvliet.
The last time Nevills wrestled in an important match before he transferred to Maryland wrestling was on Feb. 19, 2021, where he beat No. 16 Tate Orndorff in Penn State’s 28-12 victory over Ohio State.
This season, Nevills has been thrust back into significant matches for the Terps as their heavyweight wrestler. He’s 6-4 in all action this season, with one win against a ranked opponent and a No. 19 national ranking, per Intermat.
However, Nevills has struggled against other high-level heavyweights. With his loss against Oregon State’s No. 22 Boone McDermott on Friday, Nevills is now 0-3 against heavyweights ranked in the top 25. Coach Alex Clemson believes with consistent time on the mat, the graduate student can continue to improve despite early season struggles against top competitors.
Nevills has been inconsistent with generating offense in some of his performances. At the Cliff Keen Invitational, Nevills only scored five combined points in his first two matches while facing unranked opponents, with one of the bouts resulting in an upset loss.
“He needs to learn and grow a little bit, and the more he competes, the more likely that is to happen,” Clemsen said. “He’s only wrestled like 45 or 50 collegiate matches. Most sophomores, redshirt freshmen have wrestled that, right? He’s a fifth-year guy, but he played football three years, he was injured for a year, the world was in COVID. He’s young in terms of his experience level.”
Nevills’ match against Oregon State’s McDermott on Friday was an example of his limited experience despite his standing as a graduate student. Nevills and McDermott were deadlocked at zero throughout the first two minutes and 25 seconds of the match, with neither wrestler able to pull ahead in exchanges of hand fighting and underhooks.
Then, McDermott took advantage of Nevills being comfortable in a seemingly even position. With both wrestlers clinching each other, McDermott locked his hands behind Nevills’ back and threw him down to the ground, quickly pinning his shoulders to the mat. Nevills was unable to recover, and lost by fall for the first time this season.
Nevills’ inexperience also showed in Maryland’s dual against No. 18 Pittsburgh. He trailed 3-2 heading into the final period against No. 13 Dayton Pitzer with the Terps trailing by two in the final match of the night.
Nevills started on the bottom and only needed a quick escape, but Pitzer held him down until the final seconds of the match, securing enough riding time to take the 4-3 decision and give the Panthers the win. After the match, Clemsen said the last time Nevills wrestled against ample competition with the dual meet on the line “had to be in high school.”
In regards to Nevills’ match against McDermott, Clemsen added that he would’ve liked to see how the rest of the match would’ve turned out if Nevills wasn’t thrown, especially as it provided another opportunity for the graduate student to spend time on the mat against a quality opponent.
“I’m not saying he’s gonna win and predicting that we would’ve turned that result around by any means. I would’ve just liked to see him compete and battle with that kid,” Clemsen said. “At the end of seven minutes, okay, well this is what we need to work on and these are the things. You were lazy in a position and you got bombed, dude. Don’t do that again.”