After only scoring three points in its dual at Michigan Friday, Maryland wrestling looked to rebound at Michigan State.
The Terps had managed to keep meets against the Spartans — one of the few unranked teams in the Big Ten — competitive in years past, so Sunday’s dual was likely one of their best chances to pick up a conference victory this season.
But this time around, Maryland couldn’t even score a point, suffering a 36-0 loss — their worst-ever defeat at the hands of Michigan State.
Maryland’s Brandon Cray and Michigan State’s Logan Griffin kicked off the meet at the 125-pound weight class. The Terp came out strong with a takedown in the first period, but Griffin was able to escape for a point.
Cray couldn't get his groove back from there, as his opponent escaped his grasp from the bottom and earned a takedown in the second period to score four unanswered points. The Maryland redshirt junior took the riding time advantage in the final period, but couldn't put up any more points and suffered a 4-3 defeat.
The Terps’ closest opportunity at winning a match came early on in the 133-pound bout when King Sandoval faced off against Michigan State’s Garrett Pepple.
Neither wrestler put points on the board until Pepple received an escape in the final period, which Sandoval retaliated with a single leg takedown to take the lead. Sandoval rode out Pepple long enough to earn over a minute of riding time, but the Spartan was able to fight his way to a reversal and ride Sandoval out the rest of the period to take the advantage and a 3-2 victory.
Few matches remained tight from there, with the Spartans imposing their will on the Terps.
Michigan State’s Matt Santos earned a quick takedown over Hunter Baxter 20 seconds into the first period of the 141-pound matchup. The Spartan rode out Baxter for the remainder of the period, racking up 2:40 of riding time.
After a scoreless second period, Santos earned three more points with an escape and single-leg takedown on Baxter. The Terp was able to escape and earn a takedown of his own before the buzzer, but it wasn't enough to prevent a 6-3 defeat.
Yet another showcase of riding tough came in the 149-pound match. Spartan Alex Hrisopoulos stayed on top of Maryland’s Michael Doetsch for a total of 4:13. Doetsch was completely shut down by his opponent, only scoring one point from an escape in the second period in a 6-1 loss.
After the first four matches ended in minor decisions, Michigan State’s No. 21 Jake Tucker was the first wrestler to earn bonus points for the Spartans and truly put any chance of a Maryland victory out of reach. Tucker’s five takedowns, three of which were in the first period, helped lead to his 18-3 technical fall over Maryland’s Lucas Cordio in the 157-pound bout.
With the Terps down 17-0 after intermission Drew Hughes kept the Spartan’s winning streak alive with his 5-1 win over Kyle Cochran in the 165-pound bout. Hughes stayed tough on top as he put together roughly three minutes of riding time. And Cochran, much like some of his fellow Terps, was unable to put together any moves on bottom, which inevitably lead to his defeat.
Maryland’s only ranked wrestler, No. 23 Philip Spadafora, was also unable to come away with a victory, though he should have been the team’s best chance.
Spartan Layne Malczewski kept Spadafora scoreless through three periods in their 174-pound match. Malczewski got a reversal in the second period and rode Spadafora out just long enough to get an extra point from riding time and eventually a 3-0 upset after a scoreless final period.
Michigan State’s second and final ranked wrestler, No. 20 Cameron Caffey, easily conquered Maryalnd’s Kyle Jasenski in the next showing. Caffey threw the Terp to his back in double underhooks for a pin in the second period after scoring three takedowns in the first, putting Maryland in a 29-0 hole.
The Spartans continued to shatter Maryland’s hopes of scoring any team points in the 197-pound bout. Maryland’s Jaron Smith was unable to put together any offense in his matchup against Nick May.
Michigan State’s Nick May pulled ahead in the second period with an escape and takedown over Jaron Smith for 3-0 lead. Smith chose bottom to start off the third period hoping for an escape, but had couldn't find any success in what ended in a 4-0 loss with riding time.
Christian Rebottaro closed out the Spartans’ shutout evening with a flurry of takedowns that led to his 14-6 major decision over Maryland’s Parker Robinson in the heavyweight pairing.
Three things to know
1. Terps give Spartans their first Big Ten victory. Michigan State was able to snap its three- match losing streak and pick up a win in conference play, while Maryland loses its fifth-straight match — its longest losing streak of the season so far.
2. Maryland continues to struggle in close matches. There were eight matches where the Terps lost by a margin of five points or less. These close matches could have gone either way if there had been a throw, takedown or reversal in the Terps favor.
Head coach Alex Clemsen has mentioned in the past that his wrestlers’ struggle to flip tight matches — something that certainly needs to be improved upon out on the mat during competition. Maryland will have to execute better in these matches in order to find success this season.
“It has nothing to do with coaching,” Clemsen said. “Those guys have to really want it, you have to be willing to go get it. You have to have paid the price every day to get it. Wanting to do it on Sunday and Friday is easy, but wanting to do it during the week is different.”
3. Terps were trapped on the bottom. Michigan State gave Maryland all it could handle in the referees position as six of 10 Spartans received points for riding time in their individual matches. Whether the Spartans were just that dominant on top or the Terps just had a rough day on bottom, Michigan State gave its Big Ten foe no remorse on the mat.
“It’s (escaping from bottom) been an issue all year, we have struggled there,” Clemsen said. “We have a full day of practice each week that we work on bottom. The matches we lose is from giving up back points or riding time.”