In winning on the road against then-No. 25 Stanford on Nov. 18, the Maryland wrestling team notched a milestone. The Terps' victory over the Cardinals was their third of the year, giving them more wins than they had all of last season.
The Terps will look to sustain their early-season success as they travel to face Northwestern. While the Wildcats defeated them, 23-16, on Senior Night last year, heavyweight Youssif Hemida performed well, earning an individual victory.
Maryland hopes Hemida can continue to provide the veteran leadership he showed last year as the team looks to continue its strong start to this campaign.
"Ultimately, we have guys who have more experience. We are nowhere near where we need to be, but we're making steps," coach Kerry McCoy said. "The one thing that makes our team really special is there isn't that big of a hierarchy. We are one team."
Still, McCoy has no problem relying on Hemida to be the wrestler who finishes matches off, as he did with a takedown against Stanford's Nathan Butler. The coach said Hemida has been more vocal this year, pushing others to follow the example he's setting on the mat.
To continue his development, Hemida has spent extensive practice time working on his footwork, following McCoy's mantra of "Move my feet, hard to beat." Hemida said he repeats that line in his head before every match.
"A lot of college heavyweights, they don't really like to wrestle — they like to hand fight and squeeze you," Hemida said. "Every day, I try to come [to practice] with something to work on. Practice is just the minimum; you have to go a little bit more to be the best."
Maryland failed to notch a Big Ten win last season, adding importance to its matchup with Northwestern. McCoy said his aim is to make the conference and NCAA tournaments, and beating a team that marred the Terps' Senior Night a year ago would be a positive step toward that objective.
"To get a little revenge on them is what we're waiting for," 125-pounder Brandon Cray said. "It would put us in a much better position for the Big Ten tournament at the end of the year."