Ethen Miller was coasting through the 149 division at the F&M Lehman Open.
He had won all three of his matches in dominant fashion, scoring bonus points in all of them to advance to the tournament’s semifinal.
Miller never made it further. He fell in a tight decision that reached sudden victory to send him to the third place match, along with three other Terps who also made it to the semifinals and lost at that stage.
Maryland had four wrestlers take home top-three finishes at the F&M Lehman Open on Friday, along with solid showings from the rest of the roster. In all, 25 Terps competed in the squad’s first competition since Dec. 10.
Strong performance from AJ Rodrigues at 165
Coming into the F&M Lehman Open, AJ Rodrigues hadn’t found much success in his limited action this season. The freshman had a 2-4 record overall, with opponents scoring bonus points on him in three of his four losses.
But Rodrigues found success early Friday. He won his first two matches of the day against Presbyterian’s Michael Ramirez and Lock Haven’s Aiden Gaugler. Against both wrestlers, Rodrigues excelled defensively — the only points that his opponents scored were from escapes.
Rodrigues’ win streak ended when he faced Hofstra’s Jake Slotnick in the round of 16. Slotnick got a takedown late in the first to jump ahead 3-0, then went on the defensive. Rodrigues was unable to find a takedown of his own in the next two periods in a 4-1 decision that sent him to the consolation bracket.
There, he faced Campbell’s Riley Augustine. Both wrestlers struggled on offense as the match went through regular time and two overtime periods tied at one. In the second sudden victory period, Rodrigues shot for a double leg and secured it to end the match with a 4-1 win and advance to the final eight in the consolation bracket.
Rodrigues won his next match by an 8-5 decision over Princeton’s Luca Pontone behind two takedowns, but his day ended in his sixth match. Facing Kent State’s Aaron Ferguson, Rodrigues was stymied by Ferguson’s offense, losing by technical fall in the second to cap off an impressive showing from the freshman.
Braxton Brown continues to dominate at 133
Brown got off to a slow start this season. The NCAA Qualifier as a redshirt freshman last year was 1-3 in his first four matches this year at 125. But since Brown moved up a weight class, he’s looked like his old self, winning six straight matches with bonus points in four of them heading into Friday.
Brown dominated his first three opponents. Against Navy’s Garrett Totten, Princeton’s Nick Kayal and Tyler DeKraker, Brown only allowed a single point and won all three matches by a combined score of 30-1 to breeze to the semifinals.
There, Brown faced Pittsburgh’s Vinnie Santaniello, who he previously beat in Maryland’s dual against Pittsburgh earlier this season.
Brown scored first after a pointless first with an escape in the second to take a 1-0 lead. Santaniello responded in the third with a reversal from the bottom position to go ahead 2-1.There, his top pressure was too much for Brown, who was unable to escape for the rest of the period and lost by decision.
Brown’s final match of the day was for third place, where he pinned No. 18 Dom Vaccine from Campbell in the second period.
Kal Miller loses his first match of the season
No Maryland wrestler has a better record this season than Kal Miller. The redshirt sophomore was 5-0 heading into Friday. Two of those wins came against opponents ranked in the top-25.
Miller’s day started in the round of 32 against Pittsburgh’s Briar Priest. Miller got a takedown early in the first, and a reversal from the bottom in the second gave him a commanding 5-0 lead and held on late for a 5-3 decision victory.
Miller faced Lock Haven’s Wyatt Fox in the round of 16. Neither wrestler generated any offense, but Miller didn’t need to. He rode out the whole second period from the top position, and an escape in the third was all he needed in a 3-0 victory due to points for riding time and stalling.
Miller’s match in the quarterfinals came against Army’s Rich Treanor. Treanor picked up a quick takedown for a 3-0 lead, and he answered Miller’s escape with one of his own in the second for a 4-1 lead heading into the final period.
Miller picked up another quick escape then searched for a takedown to capture the lead. Treanor was on the defensive, getting warned for a stall late, but he couldn’t hold Miller off. He found a last-second takedown to secure a 5-4 victory.
His undefeated season ended in the semifinals against Lehigh’s Carter Bailey. Both sides were even through three periods. In the 30-second overtime periods, Miller picked up an escape while starting from the bottom. But when he started on top, he ended on his back with a hold of Bailey to give the opponent a fall victory to send Miller to the third-place match, where he beat Pittsburgh’s Cole Matthews, 4-1, in sudden victory.