clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Illinois mauls Maryland wrestling at the Huff, 32-3

The Terps narrowly avoided getting shut out on the road at Illinois, winning only the tenth and final match of the dual.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland wrestling's long season continued on Friday night in Champaign, Illinois at Huff Hall as they took on the top-15 ranked Fighting Illini. Maryland had only won three of ten matches in both of their previous duals against Rutgers and Ohio State and this dual started off badly for Maryland and quickly got worse. There were some encouraging silver-lining moments for Maryland, but they were few and far between.


The dual started at 157 instead of the usual 125. The white-hot Lou Mascola got the Terps on the board against Rutgers and Ohio State and looked to give the Terps an early lead against top-5 ranked Isaiah Martinez. Martinez was every bit as good as his ranking indicated and he led 13-2 after three minutes. He won by technical fall in the second period, 20-4, to get Illinois off to a 5-0 lead.


Tyler Manion's long season continued on Friday night as top-10 ranked Jackson Morse racked up three takedowns in the first period to take a 6-2 lead. Morse took down to start the second and scored 12 unanswered points in the period to win 18-2 and secure a second consecutive tech fall for Illinois. They led 10-0 after two matches.


Josh Snook won against Ohio State's back-up last week but now had to face top-10 ranked Zac Brunson at 174 for Illinois. Snook wrestled hard but trailed 2-0 after the first, 4-1 after the second and lost the the closest of the first three matches in a 5-1 decision. Illinois' lead expanded to 13-0.


Anthony Gardner found himself in the same kind of match as Snook. He faced Nikko Reyes another top 20 ranked wrestler. Garder gave the Terps another good effort but Reyes led 2-0 after one, 5-0 after two and ended up with a 6-2 decision win.


Rob Fitzgerald took the mat for Maryland looking to beat Jeff Koepke and get Maryland on the board. Fitzgerald led 2-1 after the first period but got reversed in the second and trailed 3-2 going into the third and final period. Koepke held on for the 4-3 win to continue the shut-out for the Illini. Fitzgerald has been in close matches consistently in Big Ten competition (with the exceptions of Penn State and Ohio State) and is going to be a serious threat at the Big Ten Tournament.


Top-15 ranked Spencer Myers is used to wrestling last in every dual but he came out against an unranked Brooks Black and his lack of aggressiveness came back to bite him just as it has many times in big matches throughout his career. Myers and Black were scoreless after the first period. They traded escapes in the second and third periods and the match went into overtime. Neither wrestler scored in the sudden victory overtime period and Myers got ridden out in the first ride-out period. Black escaped and won the match 2-1 to give Myers his first loss of the season. Going into the 125 class, Maryland trailed 22-0.


Top ranked Jesse Delgado was Illinois' first back-to-back national champion in 56 years and he took on Josh Polacek. Polacek wrestled a great match and only trailed 2-0 going into the third period. He scrapped and came close to knocking off the #1 ranked wrestler at 125 but fell just short and lost 4-3. This was one of the more encouraging matches in the dual even though Maryland lost.


Geoffrey Alexander had lost his last three Big Ten dual matches in a row (9-2 to Penn State's Jimmy Gulibon, 10-4 to Scott DelVecchio and 10-2 to Johnni DiJulius) coming into the match against Illinois and had to wrestle top-5 ranked Zane Richards who had majored him, 12-1, in the quarters at the Midlands. Not an easy task at all.

Alexander trailed 2-0 after the first period and Richards had a huge lead in riding time. Richards increased his lead to 7-1 after the next two minutes and turned it on in the final period to win a 14-4 major decision giving him his second major decision over Alexander in as many matches. Illinois now led 29-0 with two matches left in the dual.

Here is what should be concerning to Maryland fans regarding Alexander. He has now lost his last four Big Ten dual matches in a row, two of them by major decision and none of them were closer than six points. He has two wins against Big Ten opponents in Dom Malone and Eric Montoya. However, Alexander has lost three in a row and five of his last eight. That isn't the end of it though.

He has to wrestle #5 Cory Clark of Iowa next Friday and #1 Chris Dardanes of Minnesota two days later. If he drops those two matches, he may fall from the top-20 rankings. He still has Dom Malone on the schedule for the season finale at Northwestern and he majored Malone when they met at the Midlands. Maryland fans should hope that this isn't a repeat of two years ago when Alexander came apart down the stretch. I think it's simply a case of facing better opponents, but all of these losses won't help Alexander when it comes time for seeding at the Big Ten Tournament.


Shyheim Brown hadn't won a match since the dual at Navy on January 11th. He wrestled that match at 149 pounds and if you wanted to find his last win at 141 pounds, you would have to go all the way back to the Midlands on December 30.

He lost close decisions to top-20 Todd Preston of Harvard and top-10 Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers but he got pinned by top ranked and three-time defending national champion Logan Stieber. He had to face top-15 ranked Steven Rodrigues and almost pulled off the upset.

Brown led 2-0 after the first but Rodrigues got an escape and a takedown in the second period to take a 3-2 lead. Brown couldn't get out from under Rodrigues and lost a very tough and closely contested 3-2 decision.


Illinois led 32-0 going into the last match of the dual and threatened to blank Maryland for the first time in a very, very long time. Ben Dorsay prevented the shut-out by beating Kyle Langenderfer 3-1. Dorsay trailed 1-0 going into the third period but got the takedown late in the period to put Maryland on the board in the tenth and final match.

Bottom Line

There were four matches in this dual that Maryland lost by one point. They lost at 197, heavyweight, 125 and 141. Those were close matches but Illinois had the more talented wrestlers and the talent won on Friday night.

Here is the reality, though: This was another embarrassing match for Maryland. Embarrassing not simply because they tied their lowest scoring output of the season (They also scored 3 points against Lehigh, Nebraska and Penn State) and the 29-point margin of defeat was their fourth worst of the season. The loss is difficult because the Terps are not progressing in closing the gap between themselves and their powerful Big Ten competition. Embarrassing and difficult because their road becomes even more difficult.

They now return home to face Iowa and Minnesota the number 1 and number 2 teams in the nation in a three-day span. The result will likely be very similar to what we saw on Friday night against Illinois.