After adding onto his undefeated record by notching his fourth win over a ranked opponent this season, Maryland wrestling heavyweight Youssif Hemida downplayed his achievement, simply saying he feels "pretty good."
Hemida has been a brand name for Maryland the past two years, and while he had a remarkable season last year as a sophomore, he's beginning to be recognized as one of the best wrestlers in the NCAA.
Northwestern has four ranked wrestlers, including 19th-ranked heavyweight Conan Jennings — Hemida's opponent. But the 285-pound Terp said he is blind to his opponents' rankings, helping him remained poised for a victory over Jennings on Saturday.
"It doesn't change if he is ranked number one in the country or if he is the worst in the country," Hemida said. "I'm going to go out there and wrestle the best I can."
Twelfth-ranked Hemida pinned Jennings for his fourth pin of the season, moving him to 8-0 on the season.
[Read more: Maryland wrestling loses, 34-12, to Northwestern]
Coach Kerry McCoy has noticed Hemida's physical improvements, but more importantly, McCoy said, Hemida's mental strength has grown. McCoy said Hemida does what the coaches tell him is best for him, and that is one of the main reasons he has seen so much success.
"Every year I feel a lot better than I did the previous year," Hemida said.
Last season, Hemida finished 23-13, including a 12-6 record in dual meets, and was just shy of being recognized as an All-American. Falling short of the accolade left Hemida with a "sour taste in his mouth," McCoy said.
This season, McCoy is confident Hemida will make his name known in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
Hemida rarely dwells on the past. He's already focusing on the Terps' upcoming dual meets against wrestling powerhouses Wisconsin and Iowa, while also keeping the two tournaments at the end of the season in the front of his mind.
"All that matters," Hemida said, "is the end of the year."