The referee threw two fingers in the air as Maryland heavyweight Youssif Hemida got a solid grip on Campbell wrestler Jere Heino's leg and finished the takedown Friday in the NCAA Championships.
Those two points propelled the sophomore as he took the 3-2 decision over Heino for his third win in two days.
Despite being unseeded after earning an at-large bid, Hemida advanced further than the other three competing Maryland grapplers and was one win away from reaching All-American status at the national tournament in St. Louis.
"It's a tough feeling," Hemida said. "But just to know that I'm right there with the top guys, it's frustrating, but it's also promising at the same time that I know I can hang with these guys."
Coach Kerry McCoy called Hemida, a team captain, one of the team's "most dedicated guys." He said the heavyweight's performance showed that, especially after losing his opening match to No. 14 Thomas Haines of Lock Haven.
After entering the consolation bracket, Hemida reeled off three straight victories to get to the Round of 12, also known as the "Blood Round." He took on No. 7 Tanner Hall of Arizona State but fell, 2-1.
Hall ended up finishing in third place.
"Having a guy being one round away from being an All-American and losing a one-point match on a stall call is a terrible way to lose," McCoy said. "But it's encouraging to see that we've made progress and improved from last year."
Hemida's run to a near-All-American status was the tournament highlight for the Terps, who had three other grapplers compete. All four were making their NCAA tournament debuts.
Redshirt senior and 133-pounder Billy Rappo lost his opening match to No. 2 Seth Gross of South Dakota State. Rappo lost, 5-0, the only regular decision Gross has had in the tournament so far. He took his next three matches by major decision, propelling him to the championship match Saturday night.
Redshirt sophomore Ryan Diehl also lost his opening match, but the 141-pounder earned a medical forfeit victory to advance in the consolation bracket. His season came to an end when No. 3 Joey McKenna of Stanford defeated him, 9-0.
Maryland's only seeded grappler, No. 13 Alfred Bannister, was the only Terp to open his tournament with a victory, but the 149-pounder then fell to No. 4 Micah Jordan on Ohio State. Bannister won his first consolation match, but Wisconsin's Andrew Crone knocked him out of the tournament with a 7-4 decision.
McCoy said the losses were a combination of a lack of urgency and talented opponents. With just one seeded wrestler in Bannister, and with him being the No. 13 seed, the Terps knew they'd have to face highly ranked opponents.
"We lost to some tough guys, but the urgency has to be there in the tournament," McCoy said. "If you've got tough competition, you've got to be ready for that much more of a battle and find a way to get through it."
Hemida exemplified that as he won those three matches to put himself in a position to garner All-American honors. The Mamaroneck, New York, native was excited for the opportunity but disappointed in the outcome.
"It was a cool experience," Hemida said. "I didn't want to go just for that experience though. At the end of the day, it's just another tournament, just another match, and that's how I wanted to take it. Wherever the venue is, you've just got to still go out there and compete."
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, Youssif Hemida's first name was misspelled in the headline. The story has been updated to reflect this correction.