Jaxon Smith remained in control during the entire match against Ohio State’s Gavin Bell. The redshirt sophomore took down his opponent four times while cruising to a 16-4 win.
But once again, Smith was the only one that got Maryland wrestling on the board and prevented the Terps from being shut out by a superior conference foe. Maryland fell to No. 7 Ohio State, 38-4, on Friday in Columbus. The Terps only held leads in two matches all night.
Maryland wrestlers struggled to find their offense throughout the entire dual. Outside of Smith, the Terps (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) only recorded one takedown, which came from Ethen Miller in a 14-6 major decision loss to No. 9 Dylan D’Emilio.
Kal Miller loses first dual match of season
Kal Miller has been a force for the Terps this season in dual meets. Miller held a 3-0 dual record entering Friday and outscored opponents 14-0. However, the sophomore’s opponent in Maryland’s dual against Ohio State (10-1, 2-0 Big Ten) would be his toughest test of the year on paper: No. 3 Jesse Mendez.
Mendez jumped out to an early lead in the opening period. A slick transition from a shot allowed him to get to Miller’s back and Mendez dragged him to the ground for a 3-0 lead. Miller escaped late in the first to get on the board and make it 3-1.
Miller started the second from the top position, but he didn’t spend much time there. Mendez escaped to restore his three-point advantage, and after a period of inactivity the referees called Miller for stalling, which extended Mendez’s lead to 5-1.
The third period started with Miller picking up an escape, but he was docked again for stalling to keep Mendez’s lead at four points. Miller knew he needed a big sequence late, hunting for a takedown, but Mendez stuffed his shot attempt and turned it into three points of his own.
With the riding time advantage, Mendez took a 10-2 major decision, Miller’s first major decision loss of the season. The loss was only Miller’s second of the year, with the other coming by fall against Lehigh’s Carter Bailey at the F&M Open.
AJ Rodrigues falls to another ranked opponent
AJ Rodrigues hasn’t been given much of a transition period to adapt to the collegiate level as a true freshman. Rodrigues, who held a 6-7 record this season coming into Friday’s action, made his dual debut last week against Northwestern’s No. 15 Maxx Mayfield. He faced another ranked opponent on Friday in No. 22 Bryce Hepner.
Hepner was the first on the board, finding a takedown after a grappling sequence that he turned into a single leg for a 3-0 lead.
Rodrigues escaped late in the opening period to cut the lead to 3-1, but Hepner responded in the second with an immediate escape, then a takedown with a quick back take off of a headlock for a 7-1 advantage. Rodrigues was taken down with a double leg shot from Hepner in the third, and was taken down again after escaping en route to a 14-2 major decision loss.
Rodrigues’s struggles through his first two duals are on par with Maryland’s struggles this season at 165. Terps wrestlers at 165 pounds are 1-5 in duals this season, with the only win coming from the currently injured John Martin Best.