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Beauty and the Beast: Streaks Snapped

Maryland wrestling won for the first time in over two months and Maryland gymnastics lost at home for the first time in over two years.

Todd Carton

It was Maryland's first ever gymnestling event - Beauty and the Beast at XFINITY Center Friday night. In front of an announced crowd of 2,091, the GymTerps suffered their first home loss in over two years while the wrestling squad, courtesy of the return of Spencer Myers, ended their two month losing streak.


The men from Cambridge came to the XFINITY Center for their first dual meet of the season. They were riding high on Boston being considered to host the Olympic Games in 2024 and the fact that eight U.S. presidents have degrees from their school. Maryland was not daunted by Harvard's sterling academic reputation and looked to come out and end their losing streak that had spanned a little over two months.


Harvard forfeited at 125 spotting Maryland six points. This had a huge impact on the dual. A forfeit is the easiest six points you will ever get in wrestling.


Maryland's 18th ranked Geoffrey Alexander took on Ryan Osleeb in the first match of the dual. Alexander showed some flair in the first period, winning a scramble position and hitting a tilt to take a five-point lead in the first minute and a half. Alexander rode out Osleeb for the rest of the period, building a 2:08 riding time going into the second period.

Alexander reversed Osleeb to build a 7-0 lead and then went back to work on top. Alexander got a two point near-fall to take a 9-0 lead going into the third period. Alexander had the riding time point locked up and was looking for a tech-fall after taking down Osleeb mid-way through the third. He hit a three point near-fall off of a tilt and secured the tech thanks to the riding time point. Maryland's lead through two matches was 11-0.


The most highly anticipated match of the dual was at 141 between Todd Preston and Shyheim Brown. Preston was one win away from All-American status last year and is ranked 15th in the country this year and Brown is fresh off of placing at the Midlands.

Neither wrestler could score in the first period with Preston taking the lone shot attempt. Brown deferred to start the second period and Preston took bottom. Preston escaped in about 15 seconds to take a 1-0 lead. That would hold until the third period when Brown took bottom.

Brown tried to escape from Preston's crab ride, but Preston was having none of it. Preston hung on and was able to deftly turn Brown in one of the best performances on top that I have seen all year. He turned Brown for a two point near-fall and tacked on the riding time point for a 4-0 decision win in favor of the Crimson.


With Maryland leading 11-3, the Terps sent out R.J. DeGeorge. After a scoreless first period, DeGeorge allowed an early escape but got a takedown by counter-attacking a single leg late in the second period. Leading 3-1 in the third, DeGeorge held on for the decision win to give Maryland a 14-3 lead.


Lou Mascola took the mat at 157 for Maryland. Harvard's wrestler, Tyler Tarsi, got a little too aggressive and Mascola turned it into a takedown and an early three point near-fall. Mascola added another four points through a tilt and a near-fall and took a dominant 9-1 lead into the second period that was reminiscent of Alexander's match.

Mascola escaped, got taken down, escaped and got a take down again. He locked up an inside cradle in the third period, but couldn't get the fall and won a 17-3 major decision to give the Terps an 18-3 lead going into the second half of the dual.


Tyler Manion's rough season at 165 continued as he gave up a takedown to Tyler Grimaldi early in the first period and got ridden out. A locked hands penalty closed the gap to 2-1 entering the second period. Manion allowed an escape and got taken down in the second. Grimaldi had the riding time point locked up going into the third period and a 5-2 lead. Manion got cut and taken down twice and lost a 10-4 decision. The two teams took a brief intermission before heading into the final four matches.


Going into 174, the Terps were defending a very comfortable 18-6 lead. One win from Maryland would all but seal up a dual win. Josh Snook, fresh off of placing 4th at the Midlands, took on Josef Johnson of Harvard with that task in mind. Johnson, a freshman, couldn't convert in a couple of better positions and the two wrestlers went to the second period tied 0-0. The two wrestlers traded escapes when they took bottom position. Johnson seemed to be the aggressor throughout the match and he hit a takedown with 27 seconds left in the third period to take a 3-1 lead.

It took a video review but Snook was awarded two points for a reversal but the riding time point went to Johnson, giving him the 4-3 win.


Sean O'Malley took the mat for Maryland. Michael Mocca came in trying to put Harvard in striking distance for the last two matches. Mocco got a takedown and rode out O'Malley for the whole first period. He then added an escape and a takedown in the second period before cradling and pinning O'Malley. It was a huge six points for Harvard as they sent one of their best wrestlers in to try and take the lead at 197.


Harvard's Jason Fox came in ranked in the top 15 in the country and had just taken third place at the Midlands. He gave Harvard their first chance to take the lead in the match if he scored bonus points. Rob Fitzgerald needed bonus points to seal the win for Maryland.

Fitzgerald got in deep on a couple of counter-attacks but couldn't finish. Fox got an escape in the second period and a takedown on the edge to take a 3-0 midway through the second period. Fox rode Fitzgerald out and added the riding time point to get a 4-0 decision win that tied the match at 18 apiece.


The return of Spencer Myers to heavyweight for the Terps made the difference in this match. The former All-American took the mat needing a win to get Maryland the W. He delivered.

Myers had a big size advantage over his opponent, David Ng, but didn't seem to use it in the first period. It was 0-0 heading into the second and Myers took bottom. Myers escaped after 15 seconds to take a 1-0 lead and neither wrestler scored for the rest of the period.

Ng took bottom in the third and final period. He got to his feet twice but Myers hit big mat returns each time to bring him back down. Myers secured the riding time point and held on for the 2-0 win and gave Maryland a 21-18 dual win, its first win since November 2nd.


Maryland Wrestling head coach Kerry McCoy was glad to see the losing streak come to an end, saying, "The guys stepped up and they performed well."

He had praise for many of the wrestlers like Lou Mascola (who got a big major decision win) and Geoffrey Alexander (who got a technical fall), but also made sure to laud the work of R.J. DeGeorge. McCoy said he did a great job wrestling in his first-ever varsity dual meet. DeGeorge's win was critical in Maryland's victory.

McCoy said that Spencer Myers had about six days of practice in him after competing for the football team. He said that he knew that Myers would be tough to take down and he knew he was going to be tired but he knew Myers would battle for seven minutes and he did just that.

With a brutal slate of Big Ten games remaining, this was Maryland's best shot at a win for the rest of the year. McCoy summed up the team's emotions after the dual by saying, "It's a good win. It feels good right now." McCoy said that the team has to have a short memory and get ready for their tri-meet against top-15 Lehigh and Navy on Sunday.



In the gymnastics portion of the Beauty and the Beast event, Maryland started on an event that has been traditionally strong for the Terps. Karen Tang got the Terrapins off to a solid start with a 9.70. Maryland coach Brett Nelligan likes to build his lineup so the scores will build as each of the six gymnasts competes and a strong opening score sets a tone of confidence for the gymnasts who follow.

In the first surprise of the evening, freshman Dominiquea Trotter got the nod over possible starters Sarah Faller and Nikki Chung and moved into the second spot for Maryland. Trotter scored a 9.775 on her first collegiate event. Another freshman, Abby Epperson followed and matched Trotter's score.

Kathy Tang held down the fourth spot in the vault rotation for the Terps and registered the team's highest score 9.825. Seniors Shannon Skochko and Katy Dodds rounded out the rotation each scoring a 9.80. Maryland finished with a collective 48.975 for the full rotation.


Faller opened the rotation for the Terps scoring a solid, if unspectacular, 9.675. Then, trouble struck. When people think of momentum sports, they likely think of basketball, football, or even volleyball. Friday night demonstrated that gymnastics can also be a momentum sport.

In the second surprise of the evening, Katy Dodds lost her grip on the high bar on a release move and finished with a disappointing 8.925. Dodds' fall was followed in quick sequence by another missed release by Skochko and a near miss by Epperson who caught herself on the low bar and didn't hit the floor.

Kathy Tang took a step on her dismount but her 9.675 equaled Faller's score from the first routine. Kathy's sister Karen hit the best routine of the night for Maryland rounding out the rotation with a 9.750. As a squad, the Terps totaled a 47.150 for the rotation leaving them with significant work to do and the balance beam looming as the next event.


Kathy Tang led off the rotation for the Terrapins and fell on the pass that preceded her dismount. Six gymnasts compete on each event and the five highest scores comprise the team total. A major fall on the first routine leaves little room for error on the remaining five. Sophomore Nicole Dragon looked like she would get the Terps back on track with a solid routine that scored a 9.7.

Though she didn't fall, Faller suffered two major breaks in her routine scoring a 9.125 that would have to count. Skochko picked things back up with her 9.75. Ebony Walters followed with a wobble or two but no major break and finished with a 9.35. Stephanie Giameo, competing in her first event of the night had a near flawless effort that earned her a 9.875 - the highest score for any competitor on that apparatus for the night.

The Terps had done themselves few favors through the third rotation. Heading into the final rotation, Maryland trailed both George Washington and West Virginia and would need to make up 1.75 points to avoid their first home loss in more than two seasons.


Nelligan chose Leah Slobodin to open the floor exercise for Maryland. Slobodin, a sophomore who missed all of her freshman year with an injury showed some nerves in her first ever competition scoring 9.325. Trotter followed with an exceptional 9.80. Said Nelligan, "With freshmen, you never know. Trotter is great in the gym and that's what we expected of her but when the lights come on, you never know."

Giameo maintained the high level and matched Trotter's 9.80 and Kathy Tang, who lost her chance to capture the all-around with her fall from the beam, responded with a 9.85. Ebony Walters matched Tang's 9.85 and fifth year senior Katy Dodds rounded out the rotation for Maryland with a 9.80. However, the hole was too deep and though the Terps closed some of the gap, they finished a disappointing third with a team total of 193.025 - their lowest score since last season's opening meet at Central Michigan.

After the meet, Nelligan revealed that both Stephanie Giameo and Sarah Faller suffered injuries. "Steph was diagnosed with a torn labrum so we will probably only have her available for the rest of the year on beam and floor. Sarah rolled her ankle this week."

Nelligan enjoyed Maryland's first Beauty and the Beast event. "It was really amazing and I'm thankful to the staff here. The marketing team, media and facilities really went above and beyond to put on something special for the student athletes."

The GymTerps return to action Thursday night when they host perennial Big Ten power and 17th ranked Minnesota. Nelligan said the team got its opening night jitters out of their system and that, "We'll get them out of our system this week in practice and come in extra aggressive on Thursday. This loss will fuel us going forward because we never want to feel this again especially on our home floor."