Redshirt juniors Ryan Diehl and Alfred Bannister both earned big wins as the Maryland wrestling team hosted the No. 19 Minnesota Gophers, but it was not enough as the Terps lost 26-22.
With this loss to the Gophers (9-8, 4-5), the Terps (4-11, 0-9) go winless in their conference schedule.
“This is the toughest conference,” head coach Kerry McCoy said. “You can’t just go out there and see what happens, you have to be ready to take it. I think our guys toward the end started to realize that they can compete.”
The Terps split the matches 5-5 today, something they had previously done in their dual meet at Illinois in which they lost 25-18.
“It’s rough splitting those matches and we’re still losing,” Bannister said. “At first we weren’t getting five wins in these meets, so it shows that we’re making progress.”
The Gophers started off the day strong with two straight technical fall victories in the 125-pound and 133-pound weight class.
Following two straight losses, Diehl brought life back to the Terps when he secured a first-period fall in the battle at 141 pounds. Diehl faced off against No. 14 Tommy Thorn, All-American and one of five nationally ranked Minnesota wrestlers.
The match began with a two-point takedown from Thorn, but Diehl quickly countered with a takedown of his own and took the match by way of fall. Diehl’s win not only brought the crowd to its feet but also gave the Terps its first six points of the match.
“That was huge,” Diehl said. “Everytime you get a pin … you’re just so excited that it happens.”
Bannister looked to carry the momentum into his matchup with Miles Patton in the 149-pound weight class. Bannister applied offensive pressure throughout all three periods, only giving Patton escape points, and capped his victory with his seventh takedown of the match. His 14-6 major decision tied the score at 10-10.
“I was excited; it was a big win for [Diehl],” Bannister said. “I just wanted to come bring the same energy when I got on the mat.”
At 184 pounds, redshirt freshman Niko Cappello picked up a win by forfeit, a much-needed win after the Terps dropped the matchups at 157, 165 and 174.
Though the Gophers had already clinched the dual meet win, junior heavyweight Youssif Hemida got locked in a tight battle at 285 with Rylee Streifel. The two went scoreless for the first period and Hemida only had a 1-0 lead heading into the third period. When Streifel earned a one-point escape to tie the match, the bout headed to sudden victory. Hemida finally got the advantage and got a takedown on Streifel to win the match.
Redshirt sophomore David-Brian Whisler also put another match in the win category when he took on Dylan Anderson in the 197-pound weight class battle, earning a 10-5 decision victory on the redshirt freshman Gopher.
Despite the team loss, the two back-to-back wins by Diehl and Bannister are crucial to the Terps’ confidence going forward into the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA Championships.
“I think we took a good step forward for the conference tournament,” McCoy said. “So that was a big win for Ryan to put himself in the position to argue for a better seed and for Bannister in the same situation.”
The Terps will finish their regular season at home on Sunday, Feb. 18, with a double-header against Rider and Ohio University. Action will begin at 1 p.m. at the Xfinity Center Pavilion.