Geoffrey Alexander wrestled two very good matches Thursday night at the NCAA Championships, but won his first match and lost his second.
Alexander staked himself to an early 5-0 lead against Austin Eicher of Northern Illinois. He showcased some great counter-offense and seemed to be in control of the tempo of the match. In the second period, he and Eicher bumped heads. Time was called as Eicher looked a little shaken up. After Eicher was cleared to continue, both wrestlers shook hands in the middle of the mat before restarting. It was a great display of sportsmanship and character, the kind that Maryland fans have come to expect from Alexander. He gave up a late takedown, but won the match 7-3.
Maryland wrestling head coach Kerry McCoy said that Alexander executed well against Eicher in his first match. "He wrestled real well. He stuck to the game plan. He was in control, got a few takedowns and rode the kid hard."
In his second match, Alexander faced No. 3 Zane Richards of Illinois with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. He scored a quick takedown against Richards and stayed aggressive. While he took several shot attempts, Alexander was hit with a dubious stalling call near the end of the first period. This would factor into the outcome of the match.
Alexander trailed 4-3 going into the third period, but quickly tied the match with an escape. However, the refs hit him with another stall call, giving Richards a 5-4 lead. Alexander got in on a double leg midway through the period, but he couldn't finish. Richards won 9-5, knocking Alexander out of the championship bracket. McCoy was understandably frustrated after the match.
"He's wrestled that guy a bunch of times and it has been ugly every time...He wanted that match real bad...He wrestled a great match...When the referee can dictate a match like that, it's really tough. That stall call made the biggest difference in the match."
McCoy also explained why Alexander has a right to be a little angry. "Yeah, you should be upset about it because you wrestled a great match and kind of had it taken away from you, but we can't do anything about it now. We just gotta focus on the next one." He continued, "I told him you can be upset about this for a little. You wrestled really well. Be mad for a little bit, but be ready because we have to get back tomorrow."
Alexander said that he gave it his all and can keep his head held high. "I wrestled tough. He's the number three kid in the country for a reason. I gave it everything I had for seven minutes...It's time to battle back."
There was a small contingent of Maryland fans and wrestlers that traveled to show their support for Alexander. It did not go unnoticed. "I have so much support here, I can't even describe it. Everyone is here watching me and supporting me and rooting for me. I'm going out there and giving it everything I have and going 100 percent the whole time...I love them all for it and no matter what happens, I appreciate everything they do for me."
Alexander added, "Winning is great and losing sucks, but at the end of the day, I'm going out there and giving it my all." With his back now against the wall, Alexander has to win his next three matches in a row in order to become an All-American. McCoy said the message from here on out is simple.
"It's win or go home."