After a tough loss to No. 3 Ohio State on Friday, Maryland wrestling had another hard opponent on its slate with a dual meet at No. 2 Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania, Sunday.
But going into the final period of the 125-pound bout, Terp Brandon Cray was tied at seven with Nittany Lion Brandon Meredith.
Cray started the third in bottom position as Meredith tried to hold him down for as long as he could. But Cray escaped from his grasp to take an 8-7 lead. Meredith then went on the offensive from his feet in an effort to take down Cray for the win, but the Terp’s evasiveness was too much for Meredith.
The victory snapped Cray’s eight-match losing streak and marked his first Big Ten win of the season, but Maryland couldn't pull away with any other wins from there in a 40-3 loss to Penn State. It’s the second straight dual meet in which the Terps only managed one victory.
“I’m excited to get back in the lab and fix some things,” head coach Alex Clemsen said. “We need more time in positions and our tactics to find more ways to get through wrestling matches. I know if our kids keep good attitudes and work hard we will find a way to get better.”
The match between Cray and Meredith was back-and-forth from the start, with neither 125-pound wrestler giving up throughout three periods. Cray started out on top with a takedown in the first period, but the score was quickly tied at two with a reversal by Meredith.
An escape from Cray only led to a takedown by Meredith to end the first period at 4-2. Meredith escaped early in the second period, but the Terp countered with a takedown to Meredith’s back for a four-point move and a 7-5 lead. The Nittany Lion closed out the second period with a reversal tying the score at seven, but Cray came on top in the final frame for the 8-7 win.
“It is the most complete and best effort I have seen him wrestle all season,” Clemsen said. “It is good to see that effort pay off [for him]. The Big Ten is the toughest conference, there is no lay ups... He earned it.”
The 133-pound match brought a storm of takedowns for Penn State’s No. 4 Roman Bravo-Young, who had dominant 24-9 technical fall with riding time over Maryland’s King Sandoval. Bravo-Young scored a total of 11 takedowns through his 7:00 of wrestling — one in the first period, four in the second period and five in the third-period. Sandoval’s nine points all came from escapes that were more or less given by Bravo-Young.
The Nittany Lions sent out another top wrestler for the 141-pound match to secure a second-straight technical fall. No. 2 Nick Lee did not score as many takedowns as his teammate Bravo-Young, but instead he scored the majority of his points from the top position in his victory over Maryland’s Hunter Baxter.
Lee scored a takedown in the first period that led him to two sets of four back-points — one from a tilt and the second from a cradle. Lee reversed Baxter in the second period and scored four more points from a tilt to put him up 14-0 going into the third period. And a reversal in the final period gave Lee his 16-0 technical fall, putting Maryland down 10-3 overall.
The Terps fell in an even bigger hole with the 149-pound bout as Jarod Verkleeren earned more bonus points for the Nittany Lions with his major decision over Ryan Garlitz. Garlitz was unable to score any points from neutral or referee’s position through three periods, while Verkleeren scored three takedowns and two escapes to give him a 9-0 major decision with riding time.
Maryland was once again shut out in the 157-pound match as Jahi Jones was held scoreless against Penn State’s Bo Pipher. A very stale match for Jones and Pipher resulted in a low final score with the only points scored throughout their match coming from a reversal by Pipher in the second period. Pipher was victorious by a 3-0 decision with riding time, extending the Terps’ deficit to 17-3.
After intermission, the Terps faced their two toughest opponents at 165 and 174-pounds. At 165-pounds, Maryland’s Kyle Cochran took on No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph. Joseph took no time messing around as he pinned Cochran in a cement mixer after 4:01 of wrestling in the second period.
At 174-pounds, No. 1 Mark Hall of Penn State finished his match in an identical fashion, only quicker than Joseph. Hall threw Maryland’s No. 24 Philip Spadafora in a cement mixer to win the match by fall just 0:53 into the first period.
Penn State continued its victory streak in the 184-pound bout as Creighton Edsell won by a 5-2 decision with riding time over Maryland’s Kyle Jasenski. Edsell went up early with a takedown on Jasenski in the first period and added to his lead with an escape in the third period. Jasenski’s only points of the match came from a takedown in the third period, but Edsall clinched his victory with an escape after that.
A stagnant 197-pound match didn’t bring many offensive points for either wrestler. After a scoreless first period, both escapes Penn State’s Austin Hoopes and Maryland’s Niko Cappello earned escapes through the second and third. But a poor straight-on shot by Cappello allowed Hoopes to go behind for a takedown and secure his 3-2 decision.
The dual concluded at the heavyweight match in another technical fall for the Nittany Lions. With a set of back points off a tilt and scoring nonstop takedowns, No, 16 Seth Nevills easily handed Parker Robinson a 21-6 technical fall after 6:06 of wrestling in the third period, marking another blowout defeat for Maryland.
Despite only winning one match in today’s dual against Penn State, Clemsen believes there are some positives to take away when getting to wrestle the top teams in the nation when looking forward.
“It helps to feel that heat and put themselves in that environment,” Clemsen said. “I would’ve liked to have seen 165 and 174 go the full seven minutes and not get thrown in those headlocks... Those are just great wrestlers.”
Three things to know
1. There was a lack of takedowns for the Terps. Maryland put together just four total takedowns in its duals against No. 3 Ohio State and No. 2 Penn State this weekend. Granted both meets were certainly the toughest the Terps have had so far this season, but inability to score takedowns gives no hope for individual victories — much less a team victory.
2. Brandon Cray receives first Big Ten win. After having a tough season with only one win, Cray earned his second win — first in Big Ten play — Sunday. The redshirt-junior had a tough matchup against Penn State’s Brandon Meredith, but was able to grind out a close victory — the only win of the day for the Terps.
3. Maryland returns to College Park to battle Illinois. The Terps will take on Illinois (7-4) at home on Sunday, Feb 9 at 1 p.m. The Fighting Illini are currently on a three-win streak after beating No. 21 Northwestern 19-18 Sunday. The Terps will hope to use their home advantage to earn their second-ever Big Ten victory.
Clemsen stated the team will practice Monday morning at University Park and then travel back home to College Park where they will practice again upon arrival.