Note: This article was written by Michael Touma.
With three regular starters on the bench, it was an unusual lineup for the Terps in their match against Central Michigan on Sunday. Although most of the matches came down to the final seconds, it was the Chippewas who came out victorious with a 26-9 win.
The absence of key contributors gave less experienced wrestlers the opportunity to showcase their abilities in competitive action.
Redshirt-senior captain Alfred Bannister, ranked No.. 18 in his 149-pound weight class, did not see the mat despite earning a huge win against another nationally ranked opponent in the Navy match Friday night.
In place for the captain was redshirt-freshman Hunter Baxter, who in his first match of the season, fell in a dominating performance by Dresden Simon.
“We got Hunter, he’s been working really hard, he’s been doing some great stuff,” said head coach McCoy. “We wanted to give him a chance to get in there and continue to build in.”
Central Michigan controlled the match, never forfeiting their lead that they established in the first battle between Drew Hildebrandt and Maryland’s Brandon Cray. The Terps won some crucial matches to keep it close, but never seemed to find a way to complete the comeback.
The Chippewas used their major decisions to fuel them to a win in College Park. Andrew Martin secured a 10-2 victory in the 141 weight class, followed by a 7-0 win in the 149 weight class by Simon.
Central Michigan captain, sophomore heavyweight Matt Stencel, ranked No. 19 in the nation, led his team to a dominating finish. Going into the match with six pins on the season, he put on a show in College Park when his teammates needed it, pinning his opponent 59 seconds into the first period, putting an exclamation point on the day for the Chippewas.
A promising story to come out of the match for the Terps was in the 133-pound match where true freshman Orion Anderson earned his first win of the season. With an electric first period, Anderson shot out with a 7-3 lead, and in the end it became a shootout. Anderson sustained a big enough lead to win, 10-8.
“This was just a confidence booster for me,” Anderson said. “The beginning of the year was a little rough and just knowing that I have to go out and attack and be who I was in high school and have it carry over.”
Another new face on the mat this season for Maryland was redshirt-junior Jahi Jones. In his match, he used pure athleticism to fight through all three periods, drawing match to overtime. There, he wasted no time, taking down his opponent early to secure a 8-6 victory.
“Something that I’ve been working on with coach McCoy is just letting it fly, not caring to give up points, and even if you do give up points, just get up and keep wrestling,” said Jones.
In such a close match following a big loss against Navy, the energy was high in the Xfinity Center. Each and every match received roars from the bench and crowd, cheering on the Terps.
“Go out there and compete and go out there and have some pride in yourselves and go out there and try hard, that’s’ what it comes down to,” said coach McCoy.
After this loss, the Terps fall to 0-3 on the season. It’s back on the grind for a while as they do not have another match until they travel to Purdue in their B1G debut on Jan. 11.
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