Following Ethen Miller’s 12-1 major decision win over No. 14 Graham Rooks, Maryland wrestling coach Alex Clemsen praised his 149-pounder.
“He wanted to make a statement today, and he did,” the coach said. “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.”
Miller’s emphatic win over Rooks was the first in what is now a three-match win streak for Miller. During the stretch, he’s dominated opponents by controlling the pace of the bouts with composed pressure, forcing his opponents to wrestle off their back foot by his terms.
Miller has only allowed three points combined over his last three matches, two of which were against top-15 opponents.
“I would say it’s been staying focused and really just thinking about my end of the season goals,” Miller said. “I just want to be up on that board.”
In Miller’s win streak, he’s showcased his improvements against ranked opponents compared to last year. As a redshirt freshman, Miller was 1-4 in such matchups outside of the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments and struggled to generate offense in them, averaging only 2.4 points per match.
But this season, Miller holds a 3-3 record against ranked opponents and has more than doubled his points per match against them. He feels that he’s grown wrestling from all positions, from on the top and bottom to finishing shots, which has helped him find success against premier opponents.
Miller also attributed his success this season to his mentality.
“The biggest thing for me is that I’m just going out there and really just putting it all on the line,” Miller said. “I got nothing to lose, and I just know where my training has been. I gotta go out there and just let it fly.”
Despite only being a redshirt sophomore, Miller is one of Maryland’s most experienced wrestlers. Freshman AJ Rodrigues highlighted Miller when asked about helpful veteran presences, and even though he’s not a captain, Miller said he’s still a leader to the program and tries to help his younger teammates when possible.
Miller has an opportunity to continue his breakout season in Maryland’s final two conference duals. Michigan State doesn’t have a ranked wrestler at 149, and Rutgers’ typical 149-pounder, Michael Cetta, is ranked 26th, below Miller.
The Terps are pursuing their second Big Ten win of the season — a feat they haven’t accomplished since joining the conference. Miller’s winning streak could push them there with a pair of chances left.