With Maryland wrestling’s match against Indiana coming down to the final bout, Seth Nevills had a chance to give the Terps a win against Indiana in his first match back in more than two weeks from injury.
An early 12-4 lead from the Terps evaporated after four straight Indiana wins, but Jaxon Smith’s sudden victory win kept Maryland alive for the last bout of the dual.
But for the second time this season, Nevills couldn’t close out a win for the Terps. Indiana heavyweight Nick Willham did just enough against Nevills to secure a 4-2 decision win that gave Maryland a 21-15 loss.
Indiana’s strength at the middle weights proved to be the difference. Maryland was outscored 14-0 from 157 to 184. The Terps’ strong efforts early in the match weren’t enough to offset the shortcomings elsewhere.
“I didn’t think anybody didn’t have good fight or whatever,” coach Alex Clemsen said. “Michael North and Dom Solis both just didn’t wrestle great. They both wrestled pretty elite guys. Michael got exposed a little bit, just got out of position. Just gave up a couple of soft ones like that.”
Kal Miller bounces back from first dual loss with ranked win
Kal Miller is familiar with tough competition this season. Four of his 12 matches have come against ranked opponents, with three of them being ranked in the top-20. And outside of Miller’s 10-2 major decision loss to No. 3 Jesse Mendez, Miller has been able to dictate the pace. The other three ranked opponents have only scored a combined six points, with Miller winning all three bouts.
Taking on another ranked opponent Sunday in No. 22 Dan Fongaro, Miller started the match composed. Neither wrestler overextended themselves in the opening period, which finished scoreless.
Miller started the second on the top, looking to pick up some riding time and potential near fall points. Draped on top of Fongaro, Miller was unable to pick up near fall points, but he held Fongaro down for 1 minute and 13 seconds for a riding time advantage before Fongaro escaped to take a 1-0 lead.
Starting from the bottom position in the third, Miller evened the score with a quick escape, then went hunting for a takedown. Fongaro tried to swim around Miller and take his back, but Miller was ready with a perfectly timed double leg shot to secure the first takedown of the match and a 4-1 lead.
Fongaro tried to escape, but Miller kept him on the mat for the remainder of the period for a 5-2 decision win, his fourth ranked win of the season.
Ethen Miller overpowers top-15 opponent
Ethen Miller has struggled this year when wrestling top-ranked foes. Entering Sunday, Miller was 9-2 against unranked opponents or ones ranked below him and 0-3 against higher ranked opponents. Miller, who’s currently No. 17, sought to change that against Indiana’s No. 14 Graham Rooks.
After a brief feeling-out period in the first, Miller attacked. He stuffed a shot from Rooks then transitioned to his back and tripped Rooks down to the mat for three points. Rooks went down on his shoulder and Miller took advantage, holding him there for two near fall points and a 5-0 lead.
Starting the second from the bottom, Miller quickly escaped and added to his advantage. Miller defended a Rooks takedown by dropping to his knees and driving through Rooks for a powerful double leg that gave him a 9-0 lead.
Rooks started the third with an escape from the bottom, but Miller wasn’t done strengthening his lead. Another double leg shot brought Rooks crashing down to the mat, where he stayed for the rest of the period in an eventual 13-1 major decision win for Miller.
“He wanted to make a statement today, and he did,” Clemsen said. “I think we saw more of what he’s capable of doing. He looked like the superior athlete, which I think nine times out of 10 he is.”
Jaxon Smith grinds out sudden victory win to keep the Terps alive
After four straight Maryland losses that gave Indiana a 18-12 lead, the Terps needed a win to keep them in the match. With two matches to go, they sent No. 5 Jaxon Smith, their top ranked wrestler, to the mat to extend the match.
Gabe Sollars immediately put Smith on his back foot. Solars came out of the match with quick pressure, shooting multiple takedowns and getting deep on a single leg late in the first, but Smith’s flexibility kept Solars off the board in a scoreless opening period.
In the second, Smith started from the bottom position and quickly escaped for a 1-0 lead. He started to move forward more, almost securing a single leg, but Solars held him off to keep the score at 1-0 heading to the final period.
Opening from the bottom, Solars picked up an escape to even the score at one. Solars went on the attack against a seemingly fatigued Smith, getting deep on a single leg late. But Smith’s flexibility saved him again as he prevented a takedown and sent the match to sudden victory.
There, Smith finally broke through. A swim move gave him Solar’s back, and he dragged him down to win and remain undefeated in duals this season.