When 174-pounder Josh Ugalde stepped onto the mat, he thought he might be facing the No. 4 ranked wrestler in the country, Michigan’s Myles Amine. However, the Wolverines sent out Amine’s backup, Reece Hughes, and the Terp took advantage.
After a slow first period, Ugalde managed to throw Hughes to his back twice and nearly scored a pinfall victory. Even without the pin, Ugalde still managed to snap the Terps’ 29 dual match losing streak, winning 12-2.
Ugalde’s impressive victory wasn’t enough to unseat No. 4 Michigan (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten), who dominated the slumping Maryland Terrapins (0-11, 0-8 Big Ten) and won, 34-4.
“We were outmatched in a lot of matches,” coach Kerry McCoy said. “We didn’t give up and we fought hard. That’s all you can ask for.”
Before Ugalde’s major decision victory, the Terps dug themselves another early hole that they could not crawl out of.
After a loss by 125-pounder Brandon Cray, 133-pounder Orion Anderson was faced with the toughest task of the night, staring down No. 1 ranked Stevan Micic. When Anderson nearly took Micic down just seconds into the match, the energy in Xfinity Center Pavilion ramped up.
However, Micic proved why he is the best 133-pounder in the country when he swiftly took Anderson down, threw him to his back and pinned him later in the first period.
“[Micic] is world class,” McCoy said. “He’s not just one of the best wrestlers in his weight class, he’s one of the best wrestlers in any weight class.”
141-pounder Danny Bertoni was next up with a top-10 opponent of his own. Bertoni wrestled hard against No. 6 Kanen Storr, including an impressive takedown in the third, but ultimately lost 7-2.
149-pounder Alfred Bannister followed, but entered the third period against Malik Amine trailing 4-1. The Wolverine upped his point total in the final frame, but Bannister flipped the switch and started taking Amine down at will.
However, the furious comeback came up just short and Bannister lost, 11-9.
157-pounder Ryan Diehl made his home debut for Maryland but couldn’t get anything going against No. 5 Alec Pantaleo. The ranked Wolverine made quick work of Diehl and won by major decision, 13-4.
The Terps found themselves in yet another uncomfortable position, entering intermission with a near-insurmountable deficit of 19-0.
Maryland suffered a similar fate coming out of the break with 165-pounder Philip Spadafora losing by technical fall, 17-2.
After Ugalde’s win at 174 pounds, 184-pounder Kyle Jasenski was shut down by No. 20 Jelani Embree. The Terp couldn’t mount any offense and Embree rode him hard en route to a 7-1 victory.
Ugalde may not have faced the No. 4 ranked Amine, but he didn’t drop his guard.
“I go out there with the same mindset every time,” Ugalde said. “I go hard regardless of my opponent and I’ll know be prepared for Amine in the Big Tens.”
After 197-pounder Niko Cappello stretched his dual match losing streak to 10, the only matchup of ranked wrestlers finally took the mat.
Coming off losses to No. 7 Sam Stoll of Iowa and No. 1 Gable Steveson of Minnesota, No. 9 Youssif Hemida was now tasked with facing No. 7 Mason Parris.
Parris pressed Hemida early and secured a takedown with 20 seconds left in the first period. For the third straight match, Hemida could not find his offense, and it cost him again. The 2018 All-American’s losing streak has hit four matches as he fell to Parris, 5-2.
McCoy knows how close Hemida was to winning these matches and believes he will break out of slump before too long.
“He’s putting himself in a position to win matches,” McCoy said. “One takedown in each of those matches and it’s a different result. He’s going to be fine when Big ten comes.”
There was significant improvement for the Terps from last weekend’s combined 93-0 losses to No. 3 Iowa and No. 7 Minnesota. Maryland was competitive in most of its matches and will look to improve even further as the postseason tournaments inch closer.
“I think everyone did a great job today going as hard they can,” Ugalde said. “The results might not be there but we’re preparing for March, we’re not preparing for today.”