Six matches into its dual season, the Maryland wrestling team holds a winless 0-6 record, including an 0-3 mark in the daunting Big Ten. That record tells a lot of the story, but there have still been some bright spots for the Terps this year.
Maryland spent its early nonconference season shorthanded, wrestling without seniors Alfred Bannister and Youssif Hemida. Bannister was battling injuries, causing him to miss some bouts early on. Hemida, an All-American last season, was coming back from competing in the U23 World Championships this past November, where he earned a silver medal. Without the likes of those two, the Terps struggled. They opened the dual slate with a 26-6 loss at Penn, then fell 31-6 to Navy and 26-9 to Central Michigan at home.
When the veterans returned for Big Ten play, the rest of the team couldn’t keep up in the nation’s toughest conference. Maryland fell 28-10 to No. 23-ranked Purdue, then lost 36-3 against Indiana and 37-6 against No. 9 Nebraska.
While the Terps have had some individual success at various invitationals this season, it’s been a difficult dual season.
Bannister and Hemida have lived up to the hype
The long recovery time before conference play was certainly beneficial for the Terps, as it allowed them to get their side back to full strength. Both Bannister and Hemida won their season-debut matches against Purdue in West Lafayette.
Hemida once again delivered in his next dual matchup, earning an 8-3 decision victory, when the Terps traveled to Bloomington to take on Indiana. However, he would prove to be the lone shining star in the contest, as the Terps suffered their worst loss of the season by a score of 36-3. Bannister and Hemida each earned decision victories against Nebraska, but couldn’t stop the bleeding as the Terps fell 37-6.
While Bannister and Hemida have certainly lived up to the hype, each holding a team high three dual wins, other Terps were forced to step up in their absence early on.
Kyle Jasenski and Phil Spadafora have shown promise
Both Jasenski and Spadafora are redshirt freshman who wrestled at New York high schools. However, despite their similarities, each of them have shined in different ways.
Jasenski was victorious in each of his two first dual matches, the only Terp to achieve that this season. While he has struggled in conference play, dropping each of his last three bouts, he has certainly shown that he can perform when his number is called. Spadafora, meanwhile, picked up one of his wins out of conference and another in Big Ten play against Purdue.
Both have also made their mark individually. Jasenski took home the 184-pound title at the East Stroudsburg Open in November, while Spadafora placed fourth at the Princeton Open the week prior.
The rest of the team needs still needs to rally together
Maryland possesses a good balance of veterans and prospects, but hasn’t shown enough consistency throughout the season to be competitive. Besides the seniors, only Spadafora has won a match in Big Ten competition, doing so against Purdue.
Other Terps have shown flashes this season, including redshirt junior Jahi Jones, who showed his potential in his thrilling victory against Central Michigan. Michael Doetsch gave Navy’s then-No. 18-ranked Nicholas Gil a run for his money in duals and placed sixth at the Princeton open, but has yet to record a dual win this season. Brandon Cray and Josh Ugalde have also shown potential, each advancing to the Blood Round of the Midlands Championships in December.
In their final eight dual matchups, the Terps will face five teams ranked in the current USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll rankings. Three of them are currently in the top 10: No. 4 Iowa, No. 6 MIchigan and No. 7 Minnesota. If Maryland doesn’t show more consistency, the Terps’ challenges may very well just be beginning.