Two Terrapin wrestlers capture titles at the Midlands

In perhaps collegiate wrestling's most prestigious regular season open tournament, two of Maryland's big three - Jimmy Sheptock and Christian Boley captured titles. The third member of that trio, Spencer Myers wrestled into the semi-finals of the championship round before falling to a sixth place finish.

When LeBron James "took his talents to South Beach" he became with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh part of the Heat's big three. A look at the Terrapins wrestling team points to Maryland's own big three. The trio of Jimmy Sheptock at 184 pounds, Christian Boley at 197, and heavyweight Spencer Myers all reached the championship round on the second day of the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships. The 2013 Midlands Tournament, which is one of the great showcases for college wrestling, was held on December twenty-ninth and thirtieth. Some wrestlers participate without being part of their school's team so you will occasionally read of more than one Terp wrestler in a weight class. With respect to the team score, based largely on the performances of Maryland's big three, the Terps sat in fourth place as a team when Monday dawned.

Throughout the early part of this season, Maryland has struggled at the lower weight classes and the team's showing at the Midlands was no different. So let's work our way though each weight class starting at 125 pounds with sophomore Billy Rappo. Rappo dropped his opening match to Brown's Bill Watterson eliminating him from the championship round. Rappo did have some success in the wrestle-back (or consolation bracket) defeating Garrison White of Northwestern and Brian Prochniewski from George Mason. This placed Rappo in the final eight of the wrestle-back round on Monday where he was pinned by Michigan's Conor Youtsey.

(For those unfamiliar with the wrestle-back, an event such as the Midlands is a double elimination tournament. Thus, after the first match of the round of 16 in a championship bracket in each weight class, the wrestle-back rounds begin with all of the wrestlers who lost to the winners of the round of 16. The winner of the wrestle-back finals would then win third place, with the loser winning fourth place. In tournaments where six places are awarded, the losers of the wrestle-back semifinals would wrestle for fifth place, with the loser winning sixth place. If eight places are awarded, the losers of the wrestle-back quarterfinals would wrestle for seventh place, with the loser winning eighth place.)

Geoff Alexander wrestled in the 133 pound weight class. The junior from Pittsburgh won his first match over Vinny Pizzuto from Eastern Michigan before forfeiting his second match. Alexander didn't participate in the wrestle-back.

Redshirt freshman Shyheim Brown entered the tournament as the nation's twentieth ranked wrestler at 141 pounds. Brown, who began the season with some surprising wins, appears to have lost some of that early momentum. After leading 10-8 going into the third round, Brown dropped an 11-10 decision to Avery Garner from Utah State. He advanced one round on a forfeit in the wrestle-back before dropping a 4-0 decision to Harvard's Todd Preston.

The Terrapin's representative at 149 pounds, Derrick Evanovich drew the number two ranked wrestler in the country Northwestern's Jason Tsirtsis for his opening match. The sophomore acquitted himself well falling in a 2-1 with ride time as the deciding factor. (Ride time is the length of time a wrestler has control of his opponent on the mat. A wrestler who accumulates a minute or more ride time over the course of a match earns a one point bonus.) He then dropped a major decision to TJ Russell from the University of Wisconsin in his first match in the consolation bracket. Frank Goodwin also wrestled at 149 pound for the Terps, He lost to Wisconsin's Ryan Lubeck in a 4-3 decision in his opening match. Goodwin won two matches in the wrestle-back before falling 10-0 in a major decision to Iowa's Brody Grothus.

The next step on the scale is the 157 pound weight class. In the same way that Evanovich drew a top ranked opponent for his opening matche, Danny Orem, one of two Maryland grapplers at this weight drew Derek St. John of Iowa number one ranked wrestler in the country. St. John defeated Orem by a 10-1 final decision. Ben Dorsay also dropped his opening match to a Big Ten foe, Taylor Walsh of Indiana. Walsh won by a fall 21 seconds into the third period. Dorsey picked up two wins in the wrestle-back while Orem earned one.

The Terps had a bit of good news at 165 pounds as Josh Snook won a 6-5 decision in his opening round match before losing in a fall to Taylor Massa of Minnesota. In the consolation bracket, Snook dropped a major decision Ryan LeBlanc of Indiana. Stepping up a weight class from his roster listing, sophomore Tyler Manion also wrestled at 165 pounds. Manion dropped both his matches as did Tony Gardner in the 174 pound bracket.

And we've finally made our way to the big three. First up, Jimmy Sheptock at 187 pounds. Sheptock, a senior from Northampton, PA, is ranked third nationally and lived up to that billing. He wrestled his way into the finals with a decision over Cameron Croy of Harvard, a major decision over Northwestern's Jacob Berkowitz, and, after taking leads of 2-0 and 3-2 rallied for a sudden victory takedown of Nate Brown from Lehigh. In the titanic finals Monday night, the nationally third ranked Sheptock took on second ranked Ethan Lofthouse of Iowa. The pair wrestled through a scoreless first period and Lofthouse chose the down position to open the second. Lofthouse won a point on an escape and led 1-0 at the end of two. Sheptock chose the down position to start the third period and tied things up on his escape. With ride time not a factor, the pair finished regulation time tied and it was on to sudden victory with Sheptock pulling off the upset by a 3-1 final.

Next up at 197 pounds, Christian Boley. The eleventh ranked Boley wrestled his way to the semi-finals with decisions over Brad Johnson of Oklahoma, Alex Coolidge of Cornell, and Donal McNeill of Rider. In the semi-final round Boley faced off against Nathan Burak from Iowa. The match was tied at two when Boley got an early escape to start the third period. The New York senior held on to advance to the finals where he'd match up with Purdue's Braden Atwood ranked nineteenth nationally. It was just shy of eleven pm eastern time when the two grapplers took to the mat and Atwood came out aggressively finishing the first period with a 2-1 edge. But Boley bounced back in the second with a takedown and back points to vault into a 6-4 lead. (Back points are more properly known as near fall points. These are awarded based on exposure or the danger position and a wrestler can earn two, three, or four points depending on the circumstances.) The third period also belonged to Boley as the Brockport, NY senior extended his advantage to 9-5 capturing the 197 pound Midlands title and the Terps second of the tournament.

Redshirt Junior Terrapin heavyweight Spencer Myers is ranked seventh in the country according to Intermat. Myers breezed through his first match winning in a technical fall over Sam Cervantes. His next two matches were decidedly closer but Myers came away with one point decisions in both to reach the semi-finals. Myers faced off against fourth ranked Adam Coon - a Michigan Wolverine and the eventual champion. After a scoreless first period, Myers had an escape to take a 1-0 early in the second. Coon rallied to take a 2-1 lead before the end of the period. He extended the lead with an escape to start the third and won the match 4-1 with an additional point for 1:14 of ride time. Myers dropped to the consolation bracket where he ultimately finished in sixth place. By virtue of the titles claimed by Boley and Sheptock, the Terps finished the meet in sixth place in the team standings with 68.5 points. First place Iowa set a meet record registering 187.5 points.

More Terps were in action at another event this weekend this time in Wilkes-Barre, PA at the Wilkes Open. Looking at some of these results might provide a glimpse into Maryland's wrestling future. So, let's begin.

Tony Farace, a sophomore from Howard County, wrestled at 133 pounds. He dropped both his matches and failed to advance in either the championship or consolation brackets.

Two Terps wrestled in the 141 pound weight class and proudly represented Maryland. Freshman Daniel Sanchez captured the championship while sophomore RJ DeGeorge placed fourth.

At 149 pounds, Justin Alexander, another Terrapin freshman, dropped his first match in the championship round. He bounced back to win two matches in the wrestle-back but failed to place in the top four. Jesse Holton took a big step up in weight from his listed position at 133 pounds to wrestle with Alexander. The Windsor, NY freshman dropped both his matches.

Another Terp freshman, Louis Mascola wrestled at 157 pounds. Once again, Maryland Pride ruled the day as Mascola emerged as the champion.

The three remaining Terrapin wrestlers - all freshmen - did not fare nearly as well as Mascola. Arashdeep Gill wrestled at 174 pounds while Ryan Kail and Sean Twigg wrestled as heavyweights. The California freshman Gill lost both his matches as did Kail. Twigg won his first match of the day but dropped both the second match in the championship bracket and his first match in the wrestle-back.

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