While I was I had the pleasure of watching the astonishing Alyssa Thomas register her fourth triple double of the season covering the women's basketball game Thursday night, my friend Charles H. had the pleasure of watching the surging Maryland wrestling team nearly sweep the George Mason Patriots out of their own gym in a dominating 35-3 Terrapins victory in their final dual meet of the year.
The Terps are surging not merely because they have won five of their last six dual meets and four consecutively. The Terps are surging not merely because they have won those last four by margins ranging from comfortable to dominating. The Terps are surging because they appear to be wrestling on a par with the eighteenth ranked Virginia Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers provided the only blemish on Maryland's record over the last six matches edging the Terps 16-15 in a match in Charlottesville at the end of January. Need more proof? Good. Because I would. And I have it. The Terps and Cavs share three common opponents in Maryland's recent winning streak - Duke, NC State, and George Mason. Like Maryland, Virginia won all three of those matches. They defeated Duke by a 30-6 score. The Terps powered past the Blue Devils 37-7. Maryland's 23-14 win over the Wolfpack compares favorably with Virginia's 22-10 margin. And with regard to Mason, the Terps were one point better than the Cavs who also cruised past the Patriots 34-3. So surging seems to provide the proper description.
Perhaps to reward him for his strong effort against tenth ranked (per Intermat) American University wrestler David Terao, Coach Kerry McCoy opted to slot Paul O'Neill in at 125 pounds. O'Neill rewarded his coach by picking up where he left off in his third period rally that came up just short against Terao scoring three takedowns in the first period to take a 6-2 lead over William Prochniewski. He extended that lead in each of the subsequent two periods to take a 16-6 major decision that included a bonus point for 3:28 of riding time and put the Terps up 4-0 in the team score.
At 133 pounds, freshman Tyler Goodwin got off to a slow start in his match ending the first period tied at two. His second period takedown gave him a 4-2 lead that he extended to a 9-2 win. Shyheim Brown, looking as though he may be returning to his early season form did just enough to win his fifth straight match since dropping a decision at North Carolina. Brown scored the only point of the match on an escape in the second period but his 1-0 win gave the Terps a 10-0 team score edge.
Frank Goodwin took to the mat for the match at 149 pounds. Charles reported that the match looked like two strong guys battling it out but Goodwin's 12-3 major decision that included nearly four minutes of riding time indicates to me that the Terrapins senior is either much stronger or much more technically proficient. Or both. The Terps' string of individual wins came to an end at four as Danny Orem dropped his match 10-5 at 157 pounds. Tyler Manion who last wrestled at the Messiah Open where he won the title at 165 five pounds made his fifth dual meet appearance of the year. In what was likely the most exciting match of the night, Manion took a 4-2 overtime decision over Mason's Ryan Forrest after the GMU wrestler managed an escape with one second left in the match to force the sudden victory period.
Next up at 174 pounds, the Terps continued to flex their muscles as Ty Snook threw down the gauntlet to teammate Jimmy Sheptock in effect saying "top this" as he won his match by a fall in just forty-nine seconds. For once, the nation's top ranked wrestler at 184 pounds wasn't quite up to the challenge as he needed all of 2:37 to pin Ryan Hembury. The fall provided a stylish cap to Sheptock's perfect dual meet record at Maryland. He will leave the program having never lost in thirty-eight dual bouts. Oh, and for those of you not doing the math, the back to back falls pushed Maryland's team lead to 29-3.
All that remained was for tenth ranked Christian Boley and eighth ranked Spencer Myers to wrap things up for the Terrapins. After wrestling cautiously and trailing 1-0 at the end of two periods at 197 pounds, Boley came on strong in the third to take a 5-3 decision. Heavyweight Myers also wrestled cautiously after securing a takedown in the first period - wanting to avoid "getting caught" under Mason heavyweight Jacob Kettler's reportedly ample belly. Myers also earned points for an escape and a riding time bonus to win a 4-0 decision and close out Maryland's 35-3 rout.
Only three events remain for the Terps as the season draws to a close. First, select wrestlers will compete at the National Collegiate Open in Richmond on March second. The ACC Tournament will be held in Blacksburg on Virginia Tech's campus on March eighth followed by the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City beginning March twentieth and ending on the twenty-second.