In the last two years, Maryland wrestling has struggled against conference opponents in the 184-pound division.

The Terps’ 184-pounders are winless in their last 16 Big Ten dual meets. Nearly half of those matches resulted in bonus points for opponents.

Chase Mielnik sought to change that last weekend. The 184-pounder was the Terps’ fifth-highest finisher and placed ninth at the Big Ten championships on Sunday, just one spot shy of an automatic bid to the NCAA championships.

“He just kept battling and battling and battling and battling and then stacked I think three in a row,” coach Alex Clemsen said. “It’s just awesome.”

Mielnik lost his first two matches and was quickly sent to the ninth-place bracket, where he faced Illinois’ Dylan Connell, who sent him to the wrestlebacks earlier with an 8-2 decision. But Mielnik made necessary adjustments in his second look.

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After three even periods, Mielnik found a takedown within the first minute of overtime. It was his first win of the tournament.

In Mielnik’s next bout against Northwestern’s Troy Fisher, he almost secured a finish before the end of the opening period. Fisher got deep on a single leg attempt and nearly took Mielnik down. But he kept his hands clasped, preventing the takedown, and continued battling while on the mat until he maneuvered to an advantageous position.

He swam through Fisher, putting his back on the mat for a takedown. When Fisher tried to escape, Mielnik’s headlock brought his opponent’s shoulder to the mat for three near fall points and an early 6-0 lead.

Fisher never recovered. The only points he mustered during the match came from escapes and a stall. Mielnik found another takedown off a clean single leg attempt and trip, bringing Fisher to the mat for another three points. Mielnik won the match, 10-3, sending him to the ninth place match against Iowa’s Aiden Riggins.

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After a scoreless opening period, Mielnik had his moment in the second. From a neutral position, he won the battle of underhooks. When Riggins tried to duck under for a takedown, Mielnik flattened him on the mat. Mielnik held him on his back long enough for the pin, evoking one of the louder crowd pops from the Maryland fans and giving him a ninth place finish after three straight wins.

Despite his impressive showing last weekend, Mielnik’s regular season struggles may keep him out of the NCAA championships. But his late-season performance in 2024 — 4-2 in his final six matches with two pins — is a positive sign as the Terps search for answers at 184 pounds.

“I think he unfortunately might be on the outside looking in as a qualifier,” Clemsen said. “But a guy that’s one spot out of qualification, in this league, probably deserves to have a chance to wrestle in Kansas City. We’ll see what everyone else thinks.”