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Maryland Wrestling Disappoints at Big Ten Championships

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Maryland Wrestling finished dead last among the field of 14 at their first ever Big Ten Championships with 6 wins and 26 losses.

Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

Day 2

Maryland started the day in last place with 9.5 points. Indiana and Michigan State were both within striking distance when the day began but Maryland HAD to have multiple wins from their wrestlers still alive in the tournament in order to catch them. They didn't get them.

133

Geoffrey Alexander had his third match of the season with Dom Malone of Northwestern for 11th and 12th place. However, they wouldn't have the opportunity to wrestle. Alexander medical forfeited out of the match before it began. Alexander will take 12th place and will automatically qualify to wrestle at the NCAA Championships.

157

Lou Mascola faced Anthony Perrotti of Rutgers in the 7th-8th place match. After a scoreless first period, Mascola started the second period on top. Perrotti escaped after 33 seconds to take a 1-0 lead. Perrotti then got a late takedown to take a 3-0 lead going into the third and final period. Perrotti rode Mascola for nearly the entire period to get the 4-1 decision win. Mascola will take 8th place and will automatically qualify to wrestle at the NCAA Championships.

165

Justin Alexander lost to Garrett Hammond 8-1 the day before and I thought that they would wrestle off to 12 places at 165 like they had with some other weight classes. They did not and only wrestled off to determine the top-10 at the weight. Justin Alexander did not get another match and his season is over.

174

Josh Snook had a rematch with Phil Bakuckas of Rutgers, who he lost to in the dual in College Park. Bakuckas got an early takedown to take a 2-0 lead. He then turned Snook for a two point near-fall. Bakuckas rode Snook for 2:48 out of a possible 3:00 and led 4-0 going into the second period.

Bakuckas started the second with another quick takedown and built his riding time up close to four minutes. Snook escaped to score his first points of the match but he was quickly taken down again. The score was 8-1 going to the third and final period. Bakuckas started the period on bottom but reversed Snook to take a 10-1 lead. He rode Snook out for the remainder of the period and won in a dominant 12-1 major decision.

Snook will take 12th place and I think it is unlikely that he will get the chance to wrestle at the NCAA Championships. I will explain why shortly.

Heavyweight

Spencer Myers faced off against Brooks Black of Illinois in the 7th-8th place match. Myers had lost to Brooks the day before, 3-2, and in the dual at Illinois.

After a scoreless first period, Myers started the second period on top. Black was able to escape but not before Myers had built up 1:31 of riding time. Myers started on bottom in the third and final period and reversed Black. Myers rode Black and secured the riding time point. Black escaped in the final seconds but it wasn't enough and Myers won a 3-2 decision.

Myers will take 7th place and will automatically qualify to wrestle at the NCAA Championships. He becomes the highest finisher ever at the Big Tens in Maryland wrestling history.

Recap

This is how Maryland did round by round:

First championship round: 0-10

First consolation round: 3-5 (Five wrestlers were eliminated from the tournament)

Second consolation round: 2-3 (Three wrestlers fell into matches for 9th-12th place)

Third consolation round: 0-5 (Two wrestlers would wrestle for 7th and 8th and three wrestlers would be wrestling for 11th and 12th)

Fourth consolation round: 0-2 (Justin Alexander wasn't given a match because they didn't wrestle for 11th and 12th at 165 so he doesn't count, Geoffrey Alexander medical forfeited and Josh Snook got majored)

Fifth consolation round: 1-1 (Mascola lost by decision and took 8th and Myers won by decision and took 7th)

On Day One, Maryland went 5-23.

On Day Two, Maryland went 1-3.

In their first Big Ten Tournament, the Terps finished 6-26. That is, in a word, unacceptable.

Geoffrey Alexander had to take a medical forfeit. He'll have two weeks to get as close as he can to full strength before NCAAs.

Lou Mascola has been one of Maryland's most exciting and productive wrestlers and he earned the automatic bid that will give him a chance to wrestle at the NCAA Tournament. He blew a late lead against Michael Kelly in his first round match and if he had hung on, his tournament could have gone very differently.

Myers needs to be more aggressive at NCAAs because he'll have to win more than one or two matches to get back on the podium for his senior season.

Shyheim Brown is in the top 33 in the RPI and the Coaches Poll. The NCAA will be giving out 25 automatic bids at his weight, meaning there will be eight open slots for at-large bids. I expect him to be one of them.

Josh Snook needed that win against Bakuckas and here is why. Bakuckas was ranked 20th in the Coaches Poll and 19th in the RPI. A win against Bakuckas would have given Snook 11th place, just outside of the top-10 at the weight. Snook is ranked 33rd in RPI but he didn't crack the top 33 in the Coaches Poll. He finished 1-4 at Big Tens with his lone win coming against Nick Proctor, a kid who entered the tournament with a 10-17 record. That finish does not inspire confidence and his 4th place finish at the Midlands seems to be more of an aberration because he has not continued to build on that success.

The NCAA allocated 26 automatic bids at 174. That means there are seven at-large bids left at that weight. His performance at the conference tournament, combined with his absence from the Coaches Poll, lead me to believe that he will not receive an at-large bid. Snook needed to finish top-10 at 165 to get an automatic bid. He didn't get it and now his season may very well be over.

Bottom Line

Maryland was dead in the water as soon as soon as the first championship round ended. The results should be incredibly troubling for a coach who expected this team to possibly finish in the top half of the Big Ten at this tournament. That expectation right now reads as much like fantasy as 'The Lord of the Rings'.

This was not a great team. One can maybe excuse the early season loss to George Mason when McCoy was forced to wrestle four back-ups and was without his All-American heavyweight, who could have won the dual for Maryland.

Duke had a great season and beat Michigan State as well as Maryland. If you are a fan, you could say that this team didn't have the talent level of Iowa, Penn State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Illinois. You'd be absolutely right. They lost winnable duals against Navy, Rutgers and Northwestern. You could say that this team wasn't built to be successful in duals. Again, you'd be absolutely right.

But if you are the coach, if you say that this team is built for tournament play and you set the bar at top-seven in the conference, dead last is unacceptable. I thought that Taylor Walsh couldn't carry Indiana past Maryland by himself. I was wrong. He did. Maryland finished with an abysmal 10.5 points.

This season has been a disappointment. That is the word that comes to mind when I think of Maryland's performance as a team this season in the Big Ten.

There is one last opportunity for Maryland to salvage this season and that is if they put someone on the podium at the NCAA Championships. Maryland has three automatic qualifiers right now, Geoffrey Alexander, Lou Mascola and Spencer Myers.

The NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee is going to meet after all of the conference tournaments are finished and distribute the remaining at-large bids. They will announce who will receive the at-large bids on Wednesday, March 11th. As I explained before, I believe that Shyheim Brown is likely to receive an at-large bid and I believe that Josh Snook is not. That would leave Maryland with four wrestlers making the trip to St. Louis.

They need someone on that podium. If they don't, what will be the high point of the season? What will fans and the coaching staff and wrestlers on the team look back on and remember fondly? After this weekend, this season is one that Maryland fans would just as soon forget. An All-American would help provide momentum going forward after what has been an excruciating and disappointing season.