Coming off a record 48-0 loss to No. 3 Iowa, merely being respectable against No. 7 Minnesota on Sunday could’ve been seen as a win for Maryland wrestling.
Instead, after just 10 minutes against the Golden Gophers, the Terps found themselves already down 18-0 with the potential of another record-setting blowout on the horizon.
When the dust settled, Minnesota massacred Maryland, 45-0, to continue the Terps’ winless dual meet slate.
“It stinks,” coach Kerry McCoy said. “Not only going out there and getting shut out but getting shut out in back to back matches and giving up bonus points is not a fun deal.”
After 125-pounder Brandon Cray did not weigh in, the team found itself down 6-0 in an instant. Things got out of control in a hurry as 133-pounder Orion Anderson, 141-pounder Danny Bertoni and 149-pounder Peter Tedesco all saw their matches end abruptly in the first period. Both Anderson and Bertoni were quickly pinned by No. 8 Ethan Lizak and No. 10 Mitchell McKee, respectively, while Tedesco lost by technical fall to No. 19 Thomas Thorn.
The newly returned 157-pounder Ryan Diehl was the first Terp to reach the second period on the afternoon but his fate wasn’t much better than that of his teammates. No. 8 Steve Bleise controlled the match from start to finish and won by major decision, 19-5.
Diehl’s return to the lineup is big for the Terps but with him wrestling two weight classes ahead of where he did last year, he’ll have to deal with an expected learning curve.
“It’s a tough deal,” McCoy said. “He’s trying to rely on his unconventional ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ mentality, and it’s gotten him a long way in his career but with him wrestling up he’s got to wrestle a little more solid.”
After five matches, Maryland (0-10, 0-7 Big Ten) was faced with its largest intermission-deficit of the season, down 27-0 to the Gophers (13-3, 6-2).
165-pounder Philip Spadafora was one of the most impressive Terps. He was locked in a battle with Minnesota’s Carson Brolsma and even scored a late takedown in the first period to take a 2-1 lead into the second. However, Brolsma managed to tie up the score heading into the third and final frame.
With the score still tied, Spadafora couldn’t fend off Brolsma for long. The Golden Gopher managed a takedown with just 28 seconds left to seal the victory.
Much like Spadafora, 174-pounder Josh Ugalde fought hard but couldn’t muster enough offense. Ugalde has battled injuries all season and his opponent, No. 12 Devin Skatzka, kept wrenching his arm looking to pin him. Ugalde avoided the pin but still lost by technical fall.
197-pounder Niko Cappello hasn’t won a dual match this season and that streak continued Sunday, as he was shut out by Minnesota’s Dylan Anderson, 6-0.
With the score out of reach, Maryland turned to its heavyweight, No. 9-ranked Youssif Hemida, to avoid getting shut out for the second straight dual meet. Hemida battled No. 1-ranked Gable Steveson in a matchup with national implications — a potential preview of postseason play.
Steveson struck first, taking down Hemida late in the first period. But the Terp managed to quickly escape. The second period was nearly identical to the first, and Steveson saw himself with a 4-2 lead going into the third period. With Steveson holding onto a late 5-3 lead, Hemida could not secure the match-tying takedown and ultimately fell, 7-3.
Even though he went winless this weekend, Hemida impressed McCoy with his performances against the No. 1-ranked Steveson and Iowa’s No. 7-ranked Sam Stoll.
“He was right there with them,” McCoy said. “For him to wrestle two top-ranked guys back to back and to put himself in a position to win is encouraging.”
The Maryland wrestling team has struggled this season, but this weekend marks a new low for the Terps. With Maryland being outscored 93-0, the possibility of a winless overall dual season is becoming more and more realistic.
And the schedule doesn’t let up with No. 4-ranked Michigan on the docket next. With these two dual meets behind them, the Terps will look to have a better showing when they return home.
“These are matches that we can learn from,” McCoy said. “We’ll be ready next weekend.”