And Then There Were Two
Maryland started the day with two wrestlers alive.
The Terps had 6.0 points when the day started. That was good enough to put them in the top 30 but Maryland had a bad start to Day Two and it hurt them.
Mascola was alive in the consolation bracket when the day started after losing to Mitch Minotti in the round of 16 the day before. He took on Alex Elder of Oregon State to try and keep his hopes of becoming an All-American alive.
Elder got the scoring started with a quick takedown but Mascola got the reversal to tie it up 2-2. After Elder escaped, Mascola got a takedown and tacked on a couple more points. Elder would escape at the end of the period but Mascola would lead 6-4 going to the second period.
Mascola took down to start the second and got an escape but Elder went on the offensive. He got a takedown and added two near-fall points to recapture the lead. Elder tacked on another three near-fall points to push the lead to four going to the third and final period.
Elder escaped to go up 12-7 and it was looking bad for Mascola. Mascola got a takedown but Elder escaped and the score was 13-9. Mascola had to press to make up the deficit and Elder finished another takedown and added the riding time point to win a convincing 16-9 decision. Lou Mascola's tournament and season were over.
Myers lost to Adam Coon of Michigan when they wrestled last season and got a chance to cement All-American status with a win in the quarterfinals.
After a scoreless first round, Coon took bottom to start the second period. He escaped and led 1-0. Neither wrestler scored for the remainder of the period and Myers would start the third and final period on bottom. Coon rode Myers tough and built up 1:32 of riding time before Myers escaped. While the score was 1-1, Coon's riding time advantage gave him an extra point and the 2-1 win. Myers would fall back into the consolation round of 12.
The Blood Round
At the NCAA's, there is no round of wrestling more exciting than the "Round of 12" or, "The Blood Round".
Win and you become an All-American. Lose and you fall agonizingly short.
Spencer Myers took on Minnesota's Michael Kroells with a spot on the podium on the line. Myers defeated Kroells in sudden victory overtime when the two wrestled in College Park.
Neither wrestler scored in the first period and Kroells took bottom to start the second period. Kroells escaped quickly to take a 1-0 lead. Neither wrestler scored after that and Myers took bottom to start the third and final period. Myers escaped to tie the match at one apiece. Myers and Kroells couldn't build any riding time or take each other down and the match went into overtime.
No one scored in the sudden victory overtime period and the match went to ride-outs. Kroells escaped within the 30 second period and went to the second ride out with the chance to win the match if he could ride Myers for the whole 30 seconds. Myers escaped, tying the match 2-2 and ensuring that the bout would head into a second overtime.
Once again, neither wrestler scored during the minute-long sudden victory period and the match would be decided in the tie-breakers. Myers started on bottom and got an escape, putting the pressure on Kroells to escape during his 30 second period on bottom.
Kroells did just that but did so almost immediately, giving him an advantage in riding time over Myers. There was a scramble on the mat and time expired. Maryland challenged the call and said that Myers should be awarded two points for a takedown. The call was reviewed and Maryland lost the challenge. At the end of the second overtime, Kroells had more riding time than Myers and was awarded the winning point. The final score of the match was 3-2 TB-2 (RT for riding time) with Kroells coming out on top.
It wasn't supposed to end this way for Spencer Myers. He roared through his first two matches, knocking off the 3rd and 14th seeds en route to the quarterfinals. He was a former All-American on a mission to add to his legacy in his final NCAA Championships. But like the great Josh Asper before him, he couldn't get on the podium for his senior season.
He lost to Adam Coon of Michigan (who would make the finals) in the quarters because he wasn't as aggressive as he needed to be in the first and second periods. He got ridden for most of the third and lost a close match. He needed to be aggressive against Kroells and he wasn't until it was too late.
For all his prodigious talent, the person who limited and held back Spencer Myers the most was Myers himself. The pressure of the moment was a heavy burden and the All-American couldn't rise to seize it. What was supposed to be a final run ending in tears of joy to cap off the career of one of Maryland's most successful wrestlers ended instead in tears of pain and sorrow.
Maryland went 0-3 on Day Two and any positive momentum going into next year evaporated when Kroell's hand was raised. Maryland fell from the top 30 into 39th place by the end of the day. Maryland finished in 39th place out of 69 teams.
It was such an abrupt 180 from the previous day's performance that it was as upsetting and disturbing as it was shocking. Maryland head coach Kerry McCoy will have to rally the troops and tell fans to wait until next year. He'll sell them on Alfred "Baby J" Bannister and Dawson Peck, the team's future at heavyweight. He'll say that Mascola and Alexander will return and that Tyler Goodwin will be back after a red-shirt year.
That is all true but it doesn't change how Maryland stunk up the joint for almost the entire season and dropped a dud at the Big Ten Championships. It also doesn't change the optics of placing in the bottom half of the country. Maryland placed ahead of Purdue and Michigan State but is that really any consolation prize at all?
The Terps ended up going 4-3 (with Mascola and Myers combining to go 4-1) on Day One and 0-3 on Day Two for a total record of 4-6.
McCoy and his staff should be judged on his teams' performances. The season started with a stunning and heart-breaking loss on criteria to a lowly cross-town foe in George Mason. It ended in heartbreak as Myers choked back tears. Maryland's devastatingly sad, sad season ended with a great kid losing a close match that he normally wins. Sounds about right.