After being outscored 9-3 through four matches in Maryland wrestling’s home opener against No. 10 Pittsburgh Friday, the 157-pound match gave the Terps a much-needed boost.
Redshirt senior Jahi Jones utilized a power double in the first period, giving him an early lead against No. 11 Taleb Rahmani. Jones then relied on his neutral defense to fend off any of Rahmani’s takedowns, winning him the match and giving the Maryland faithful hope with five weight classes remaining.
Jones’ win was one of three victories for the Terps, but it wasn’t enough as they lost 10-27 to Pittsburgh.
Today’s loss marks the eight straight home losses for Maryland — a streak that includes every home match in the 2018-19 season.
“The energy was good all night. It spiked a couple times with matches like Jones’, Sandoval’s, Baxter’s, and Smith’s at 197,” head coach Alex Clemsen said. “Our crowd was good, but I want to see more people here next time.”
Just before Jones’ big upset, Maryland’s Michael Doetsch was able to fight until the final seconds to secure a reversal for the 2-0 win over Dallas Bulsak in the third period, rallying the crowd for Maryland’s first team points in the match.
Both wrestlers used their legs while riding on top, but Bulsak was caught riding too high and Doetsch was able to slip out the back for two points.
The evening started off at 125 pounds with Brandon Cray facing off against Pittsburgh’s Louis Newell. A physical match left Cray struggling to finish takedowns as Newell kept a solid defense and gathered two takedowns and two escapes through three periods. Newell emerged victorious in a 7-2 minor decision with riding time, giving the Panthers their first points.
The 133-pound matchup almost ended in a big upset as Maryland’s King Sandoval threw Pittsburgh’s No. 5 Micky Phillippi in a tight cement mixer early in the first period. After a long back bridge Phillippi was able to fight off his back, but went down 6-0 to Sandoval.
Phillippi seemed unphased as he fought back with an aggressive offense securing multiple takedowns for an 8-6 victory with riding time.
“The lightweight kids start us off every match so I challenged them to give more effort, which they did,” Clemsen said.
In a 141-pound barn burner, Maryland’s Hunter Baxter and Pittsburgh’s No. 19 Cole Matthews kept the audience on their toes until the final seconds. Baxter and Matthews both secured individual takedowns off of funk moves defending each other throughout the match.
Going into the third period down 5-2, Baxter was able to escape from bottom and score a takedown to tie up the match. Late in the third, Matthews was able to reverse Baxter and put him to his back. Matthews finished the match pinning Baxter with only seven seconds left on the clock.
Pittsburgh’s No. 12 Jake Wentzel was dominant throughout the 165 pound match against Kyle Cochran. Wentzel shutout Cochran’s offense and proceeded to rack up six points from tilt moves. Wentzel defeated Cochran in a 10-0 major decision.
At 174 pounds, Maryland’s No. 20 Philip Spadafora fell 5-4 to Pittsburgh’s Gregg Harvey. In a hard fought match with both opponents grinding for takedowns, Spadafora gave up a takedown with just seconds left in the third period.
“He felt like he gave away his last two [dual] matches,” Clemsen said. “Philip’s got to figure out how to capitalize on those close matches.”
No. 8 Nino Bonaccorsi displayed his skills on top by tilting Maryland’s Kyle Jasenski multiple times to finish the 184 pound match in a 11-3 major decision for the Panthers.
Maryland’s third and final win would come from 197 pound Jaron Smith. Smith shut out Pittsburgh’s Kellan Stout by not giving up any escape points, taking a 9-0 major decision —the only bonus Maryland scored in their matchup against Pittsburgh.
The evening concluded with Pittsburgh’s No. 9 Demetrius Thomas defeating Maryland’s Parker Robinson with a 10-1 major decision. Thomas kept Robinson down on the mat and scored multiple takedowns to secure his extra bonus point.
Three Things To Know
1. Maryland only gave up six bonus points despite Pittsburgh starting six top-20 wrestlers. Only giving up one pinfall on the evening, Maryland kept the individual matches close. Pittsburgh could have gone up by more points, but the Terps did not let the national rankings scare them to their backs.
During the 2018-19 season, the Terps averaged just 2.5 points against top-15 teams. Tonight’s 10 points against the No. 10 team show promising improvement for Maryland.
Despite this improvement, Clemsen is not happy with tonight’s outcome.
“I don’t believe in moral victories. I don’t get paid to lose matches. I get paid to develop young men and to win wrestling matches. I take both of those very seriously,” Clemsen said.
2. Tonight’s home-opener loss marks number eight in a row for Maryland. Maryland’s loss tonight now moves its record down further to 1-4. Not having a win at home in the entire 2018, and now 2019 seasons is a tough look for the fans in College Park. Maryland will be able to set the record straight for their next home match against Purdue on Friday January 24, followed by another home match against Indiana on Sunday, Jan. 26 just two days later.
3. Maryland’s only ranked wrestler, No. 20 Philip Spadafora, fell to an unranked wrestler. Spadafora kept a lead throughout the beginning of his match against Pittsburgh’s Gregg Harvey, but sloppy wrestling in the final seconds allowed Harvey to secure a takedown for the win. With this loss Spadafora may fall out of the national rankings.