Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Boasting revamped lineup, Maryland wrestling seeks a strong start against Virginia

By Duncan Irvine

Maryland wrestling will welcome a former ACC foe to the Xfinity Center Pavilion for its season’s first home match on Friday night. 

Maryland’s matchup against the Virginia Cavaliers will be the first dual meet against a non-conference opponent since February of 2020. The Terps will also be looking for revenge, as they lost 2019’s matchup with Virginia, 34-6. Coach Alex Clemsen’s squad will be looking to improve on an 0-8 2020-2021 season, boasting a revamped squad teeming with youth.

Maryland comes into the match having only wrestled at the Clarion Open, where 24 total wrestlers competed and five ended up placing. 

At 125 pounds, Zach Brown lost in the initial round of 32 but battled his way through the consolation bracket, snagging fifth place. 

In the 133 pound bracket, King Sandoval was the top seed but fell in the quarter-finals. Sandoval managed to beat fellow Terp Tommy Capul in the round of 16 before advancing to the championship of the consolation bracket where he claimed fifth place. 

Jackson Cockrell was the second seed and lost in the semi-finals, as he fell to West Virginia’s Jordan Titus in the third-place match.

Maryland was represented by four Terps in the 141-pound bracket. Conner Quinn and William Berkowitz both fell in the first round of the championship bracket and the consolation bracket. 

Fourth seed Danny Bertoni got a technical fall victory in the third-place match. Sixth seed Ethen Miller saw the most success, making it all the way to the final round where he lost to Clarion’s Seth Koleno. 

Jack Prendergast was the only Terp who wrestled at 149 pounds, as he lost in the consolation bracket in the round of 16.

And Maryland’s representation in the Clarion Open wasn’t solely from lightweight wrestlers.

At 157 pounds, Kevin Schork and Connor Decker both lost in the round of 16 in the consolation bracket. Schork lost by major decision in the first match of the round, but Decker won his first match, moving him to the second round of 16. Lucas Cordio made a surprise run to the quarterfinals and fell in the consolation bracket’s round of eight. 

John Martin Best made it to the 165-pound finals where he lost to West Virginia’s second-seeded Peyton Hall.

Gavin Bell lost in the first round of the 174 bracket and was defeated in the first round of the consolation bracket. Dominic Solis saw more success at 174, making it to the consolation bracket round of eight after falling in the round of 16 in the championship bracket.

Best and Solis’ performances are good news for Clemsen’s squad heading into Maryland’s first matchup of the season, as each wrestler showed flashes of potential early in their Winter 2021 campaign.

But Best and Solis weren’t the only positive signs from the Clarion Open.

Chase Mielnik and Kyle Cochran were bright spots of the night at 184 pounds. Mielnik won the consolation bracket and placed fifth in the class. Cochran lost in the semi-finals but snagged a victory in the third-place match over Hofstra’s Charles Small. 

Jaxon Smith and Jaron Smith both made it to the 197-pound semi-finals and lost, setting up an all-Terp third-place matchup. Jaron was given the no-contest victory over Jaxon to close out the battle.

Maryland had three wrestlers, Sam O’Brian, Jordan Gabriel, and Zach Schrader, in the heavyweight bracket. O’Brian and Gabriel both lost in the first round of the championship bracket and consolation bracket. Schrader, who was the second seed, made it all the way to the final, where he received a medical victory, making him the Terps’ only champion of the night.

Virginia enters the meet sitting just outside the NWCA Coaches Poll. The Cavaliers received 16 votes in this week’s poll, putting them at 26th in the nation. The Cavaliers are 1-0 on the season, beating American 33-6 on Saturday, November 6th. 

Additionally, Virginia made an appearance at the Southeast Open which was hosted by Virginia Tech on Sunday. Freshman Patrick Noonan made it to the quarterfinals in the 141-pound bracket, ultimately claiming fifth place overall in the consolation bracket. 

At 157 pounds, Cavaliers Nic Sansone and Alex Cruz advanced to the quarter-finals, with Cruz placing fifth overall in the group by winning the consolation bracket. All other wrestlers fell in the first round of the championship bracket and failed to make waves in the consolation rounds.

Friday will be a golden opportunity for the young Terps to prove themselves against a nationally respected program and pick up their first win since January 10th, 2020. The dual-meet will begin at 7 P.M Friday night in the Xfinity Center Pavilion.

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