Several Terps are set to wrestle in the Messiah Open on Saturday, Feb. 3. The Terps will be looking to improve on their dominating performance at last year’s Messiah Open, in which the team placed 14 wrestlers.
Redshirt sophomore Jahi Jones will be competing in his second Messiah Open, after placing second in the 157-pound division. Jones will no doubt be striving for the championship as he returns to action in Grantham, Pennsylvania.
Also returning to the Messiah Open for his second year is redshirt freshman Brandon Cray. Last season, Cray finished in third place in the 125-pound division after overcoming a first-round loss to Connor Sheehan of Millersville. Cray recently earned his first Big Ten conference dual meet win when the Terps hosted the No. 1 Penn State Nittany Lions, marking his fourth consecutive dual meet win.
Among the remaining Terps in last season’s Messiah Open is Jhared Simmons, who took second place in the 141-pound weight class, while redshirt sophomore Brendan Burnham took third in the 165-pound division.
The Terps owned the 174-pound division, with Idris White taking second, Spencer Woods finishing in third, and a fifth-place finish for Niko Cappello.
Several wrestlers have carried their tournament success into this season, and new contenders have also emerged for the Terps.
The Terps have placed as a team in three tournaments, including a fourth place finish at the Road Runner Open that took place on Nov. 19, and a 13th place finish at both the Midlands Championship on Dec. 29-30 and the Shorty Hitchcock Open on Jan. 13.
Junior Youssif Hemida, the No. 7 heavyweight in the country, has risen as a top contender in tournament action and is poised for a run at the NCAA National Championships. Hemida took the championship at Road Runner and finished in third place at Midlands.
Though he has impressed in tournaments, Hemida’s dual meet success has been the highlight of the season thus far. Hemida boasts a 21-2 record, with his only two losses coming to top-ranked wrestlers in nation, No. 6 Nick Nevills of Penn State and No. 9 Tanner Hall of Arizona State.
Redshirt junior Alfred Bannister captured 1st place for the 149-pound division at the Wilkes Open on Dec. 22, his third placing of the season. Bannister previously placed second at the Princeton Tigers Open Nov. 4 and won 1st place at the Mat Town Open on Nov. 26.
Bannister also has excelled in dual meet action, most recently defeating Illinois’ Eric Barone in a sudden victory thriller.
The Messiah Open will wrap up the Terps tournament action before the start of the Big Ten Championships and Nationals. The Terps dual meet action is also coming to a close, with only home matches against Minnesota, Rider and Ohio University left on the schedule.
Maryland will host Minnesota in their last conference dual on Feb. 11, beginning at 2 p.m.