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Maryland wrestling drops home matches to Navy and No. 11 Lehigh

Maryland blew a 12-point lead against rival Navy and got blown out by #11 Lehigh at their tri-meet at the XFINITY Center on Sunday.

Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland vs. Navy Final Score: Navy over Maryland 20-18

Navy (1-2) came into their dual against Maryland having only beaten one team, George Mason, on November 8th. They had just been thrashed by Lehigh to the tune of 30-6 the day before while Maryland had topped Harvard 21-18 two days before the dual. Neither team has been very good this season and Navy has utilized a very large number of freshmen in their starting lineup, something that is highly unusual for a DI program. Their head coach, Joel Sharratt, is in his first year as head coach of the Midshipmen and he said that this is a very young team.


Josh Polacek and Cam Timok got things started at 125 between Maryland and Navy. After a first period where Timok took Polacek down twice, Polacek rode Timok out for the whole second period. Polacek got a quick escape to start the third but Timok took him down twice more in the third and final period to win 8-4 and give Navy a 3-0 lead.


Geoffrey Alexander had a technical fall against Harvard on Friday and kept rolling against Zack Davis. Alexander finished a single leg takedown to score the first points of the match with a little over a minute remaining in the first period. Alexander came close to adding near-fall points but the clock ran out.

Alexander added three takedowns in the second period but also ceded two escapes to Davis and went into the third period with an 8-2 lead and the riding time advantage. After a stalemate, Alexander got an escape and a takedown to take an 11-2 lead. He rode Davis out for the remainder of the period and added the riding time point for a 12-2 major decision that gave Maryland a 4-3 lead in the dual.


Frank Goodwin came out at 141 instead of Shyheim Brown, who was bumped up to 149 for the dual. After a scramble, Goodwin came up with a takedown and caught Taylor French on his back. Goodwin couldn't secure the fall but did get a three point near-fall and rode French out for the rest of the period to take a 5-0 lead in the second period and accumulated almost two minutes of riding time.

Goodwin continued his great top-riding in the second period by cradling French and although he added a three-point near-fall, he also gave up a reversal. Goodwin went into the third period in the bottom position leading 8-2. He quickly escaped, got a takedown and put French on his back. Goodwin had his way with French for the entire match when he was on top but couldn't get the extra points needed for the technical fall. Goodwin won handily 15-2 with the riding time point and increased Maryland's lead to 5.


Shyheim Brown wrestled above his normal weight at 149 and took on Cory Wilding of Navy. Brown hit a barrel roll and tilt to take an early 5-0 lead in the first period. He rode Wilding out for the rest of the first period.

Wilding was on bottom to start the second. He repeatedly got to his feet but was unable to escape for more than a minute. By that time, Brown had more than three minutes of riding time. Brown took bottom to start the third with a 5-1 lead and the riding time point locked up.

Wilding let Brown because he thought he had a better chance of getting back into the match from the neutral position. Brown needed a takedown to get the major decision but didn't attack for the final 45 seconds of the final period and settled for a 7-1 decision win to push the Maryland lead to 11-3.


Lou Mascola had arguably been wrestling the best of any Maryland wrestler coming into the match, placing at the Midlands and getting a big major decision in the match against Harvard. He picked up a quick takedown against Jonathan Clemente but couldn't turn him. Mascola picked up another takedown by getting his hips above Clemente after Clemente tried to bring him to the mat on a bear hug.

Midway through the second period, Mascola had a 4-1 lead and over three minutes of riding time. He then decided to go neutral and let Clemente up. Clemente tried to cross-face Mascola from right field as they were both fighting towards the end of the period in a whizzer position and Mascola was awarded one point for unnecessary roughness.

Mascola got a takedown in the third period and threw Clemente to the mat, allowing him to escape. Mascola hit a takedown and got a two-point near-fall to get the 12-3 major decision. Mascola pumped his arms and got the crowd to roar as he walked back to the bench. That major gave Maryland a decisive 15-3 lead going into the final five matches.


Peyton Walsh of Navy hadn't lost a dual match in two years and he controlled the match against Maryland's Tyler Manion from start to finish, getting a takedown in the first period and riding him for 1:49 seconds. Walsh escaped in six seconds and added a takedown in the last 15 seconds of the second period to take a 5-0 lead into the third and final period.

Walsh let Manion up to start the third and promptly took him down again. After cutting him again, Walsh secured another takedown and had the riding time locked up. Walsh rode Manion out to secure a 10-2 major decision to bring Navy within eight with four matches to go in the dual.


Jadaen Bernstein came out for Navy against Josh Snook looking to draw Navy even closer but Snook picked up a takedown in the first period to take a 2-0 lead. Bernstein got Snook back with a takedown of his own to take a 3-2 lead and rode him out. Snook got hit with a second stall warning and Bernstein was awarded a point. Snook escaped with a little over a minute remaining in the second. What happened next turned the tide in the dual.

Bernstein caught Snook from neutral and put him on his back and pinned him with 24 seconds remaining in the second period to give Navy a huge boost and an opportunity to take the lead at 184.


Disaster almost struck for Maryland mere seconds later as Anthony Gardner of Maryland almost got pinned by Michael Woulfe of Navy as he attempted a throw early in the the first period. Woulfe was able to catch Gardner and got a two point near-fall to take a 4-0 lead.

Gardner tried to get separation and attempted another throw but was almost put on his back once again. By the time the first period was over, Woulfe had ridden Gardner for 2:42 seconds out of a possible three minutes. Woulfe rode Gardner out for the whole second period. Woulfe took bottom and easily escaped. With the riding time point locked up, Woulfe held a de-facto 6-0 lead.

Woulfe garnered another takedown to take a 7-0 lead and needed to ride Gardner out to get the major decision. Woulfe kept Gardner from escaping and got a 8-0 major decision with an impressive six minutes and one second (out of a total seven minutes in a match) of riding time to give Navy a 17-15 lead.


After leading 15-3 Maryland now trailed 17-15. Rob Fitzgerald was tasked with getting Maryland the lead back and he would have to do it against a senior in Paul Rands.

Rands took Fitzgerald down with under 15 seconds left to go in the first period but Fitzgerald got a big escape before time expired. Fitzgerald hit a quick reversal in the second period and rode Rands out for the rest of the period. Fitzgerald got a quick escape but was taken down again by Rands to tie the score 4-4.

Rands erased Fitzgerald's riding time and let Fitzgerald up, opting to try and win the match from his feet. Rands got caught in a single leg position and it seemed that Fitzgerald would win 5-4 but Rands finished at the buzzer to beat Fitzgerald and put enormous pressure on heavyweight Spencer Myers.


Maryland heavyweight Spencer Myers had about a week of practice time on the mat after competing for the football team in the fall. He was the hero against Harvard on Friday with a 2-0 decision in the final match after the dual was tied 18 apiece. Myers usually doesn't wrestle with a very aggressive style and with Maryland trailing 20-15 going into the final match of the dual, the Terps needed Myers to get a technical fall to tie (Maryland would lose on criteria, or tiebreakers, because Navy had more pins than Maryland) and a pin to win. This was an incredibly tough task to ask of Myers.

After a scoreless first period, Myers took bottom and picked up an escape after only five seconds. Brendan Kahle was warned for stalling but after the second period, the score was 1-0 in favor of Myers.

In the third and final period, Kahle took neutral and had two minutes to try and stave off Myers. Kahle was hit with stalling again and Myers had a 2-0 lead. Myers wasted no time and attacked, taking Kahle down and extending his lead to 4-0.

Myers had 1:18 left to try and get the pin but Kahle stalled out and held Myers off to give Navy the 20-18 dual win despite Myers winning 6-0 in the match.

Maryland vs. #11 Lehigh Final Score: #11 Lehigh over Maryland 35-3

I was not present for Maryland's match against Lehigh two hours later but this match was similar to what happened in the Terps' Big Ten opener against Penn State. Pat Santoro, the head coach of Lehigh, left Maryland after the 2008 season to take the Lehigh job. That opening brought Kerry McCoy to Maryland from Stanford. Santoro engineered a phenomenal turn-around at Maryland and he has continued to be one of the best coaches of one of the best perennial programs in wrestling. This was an ugly match with only one bright spot. Two of Maryland's three best wrestlers didn't even wrestle in the match.

After a decision loss at 125, two top-15 wrestlers faced off at 133 in Maryland's Geoffrey Alexander and Lehigh's All-American, Mason Beckman. Alexander was losing in the third period but was able to reverse Beckman and ride him out to get a 3-2 win over a top-10 opponent. At that point, the dual score was tied 3-3.

After that, it was all Lehigh. Ranked Randy Cruz pinned Frank Goodwin at 141 and R.J. DeGeorge, wrestling in his second-ever varsity match, lost by decision at 149. For the match in a row, Goodwin had an opponent on his back in the first period and couldn't get the fall. In this match, Cruz fought off the cradle, came back and pinned him. At 157, Maryland's Lou Mascola was defeated soundly by returning All-American Mitch Minotti, 10-4.

At the halfway point, the Mountain Hawks led 15-3. Justin Alexander wrestled at 165 and Tyler Manion replaced Josh Snook at 174. Alexander lost a close 6-3 decision to Marshall Peppelman and Manion got pinned in the second period by Santiago Martinez after he had lost a major decision against Navy at 165. That was an incredibly tough assignment for Manion after knowing how badly he has struggled this season at 165. Manion's only wins this season came in the Terrapin Duals on November 2nd (only one of the three wins was against a Division 1 wrestler) and you throw him up a weight class? Lehigh was up 18-3 and wasn't going to lose this dual but considering Manion's struggles, it seemed like McCoy was throwing him to the wolves.

Lehigh had two more top-15 wrestlers in the last three matches and the first of them, top-10 ranked Nate Brown, tech-falled Anthony Gardner 21-6 to make the score 29-3. Elliot Riddick got a close 6-3 decision against Rob Fitzgerald to make the score 32-3 heading into the final match at heavyweight. As I told you before, two of Maryland's three best wrestlers didn't even step on the mat. Shyheim Brown didn't wrestle and neither did Spencer Myers. Doug Vollaro picked up a 9-3 decision against Sean Twigg to end the dual.


For the most part it seems pretty bad all around but I'll give you the good news first and then the dose of reality.

Geoffrey Alexander fell apart two years ago down the stretch and it looks like he has his sights set on All-American status this year. Alexander still has matches against #1 Chris Dardanes of Minnesota, #4 Johnni DiJulius of Ohio State, #5 Cory Clark of Iowa, #6 Zane Richards of Illinois and #20 Dom Malone of Northwestern. How's that for a schedule down the stretch?

At the Midlands, Alexander majored Malone but got majored by Richards. Against Lehigh, Alexander beat 9th ranked Mason Beckman but lost to 10th ranked Jimmy Gulibon of Penn State when the Nittany Lions came to College Park. Alexander didn't get a chance to wrestle #14 Ryan Taylor of Wisconsin because they forfeited that weight against Alexander at the dual. Rossi Bruno of Michigan also lurks at #8. So the Big Ten is stacked at 133. We're about to find out if Alexander can beat the best in the country at his weight.

Shyheim Brown is going to be tough to beat in the post-season too and Todd Preston of Harvard simply submitted one of the best scoreless top-rides I have ever seen in my life. He has shown the ability to wrestle up at 149 in duals when called upon but I doubt we will see that any more this season. Brown has four dual matches against guys in the top eight in his weight class coming up including Logan Stieber, a three-time NCAA Champion.

Lou Mascola is dangerous. However, there are eight Big Ten wrestlers ranked in the top-20 at 157 pounds and Mascola has already lost 16-3 to #2 James Green. Mascola will get to wrestle top-ranked Dylan Ness and wrestlers ranked 5th, 7th, 16th and 17th before the year is up. He just lost to #15 Mitch Minotti of Lehigh.

Spencer Myers is ranked 11th just by showing up and his former All-American status but the Big Ten has 9 wrestlers ranked in the top 13 at heavyweight. 9 out of 13! He needs to get back into wrestling shape quickly if he is going to stand a chance at making a deep run at the Big Ten Tournament or NCAAs.

So Maryland has four very good wrestlers. That is the good news. Here is the bad news: everything else.

If you were the betting type, you could very safely bet the farm that Maryland will not win another dual this season. A top-25 Rutgers team comes to town next week and four top-10 teams wrestle Maryland after that. Ohio State and Illinois (on the road) round out the month of January and then Maryland wrestles two top-five teams in Iowa and Minnesota in the span of three days at home. They then get four days off before their season finale in Evanston against a very, very good Northwestern team that sports multiple All-Americans.

Maryland is weak at 125, 149, 165, 174 and 184. 197 isn't as bad but Fitzgerald won't be able to beat the level of competition that he sees at the Big Ten level. Realistically, Maryland is looking at getting three or four wrestlers into the NCAAs, five if they're lucky. This season has been rough for Maryland wrestling fans and only time will tell if McCoy can bring in the talent necessary to compete in the Big Ten conference. He certainly shouldn't be judged on one year alone when it was clear from the outset that Maryland wasn't ready to come in and compete. His contract runs for several more years and the pressure is on to bring in big-time recruits that can come in and get this program out of the doldrums.