Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland wrestling defeats Drexel and Duke, first victories since January 2020

By Duncan Irvine

For the second time in one day, Maryland wrestling’s meet would be decided in the final bout.

Zach Schrader took on Jonah Nisenbaum in the final match of the day as Maryland wrestling dueled against Duke. The two exchanged blows in the first period, neither seeming to get a clear advantage. Nissenbaum led 4-3 heading into the third, but Schrader evened the score early in the third with an escape. 

Nissenbaum came close to taking Schrader down multiple times in the third, but he refused to go down. In sudden victory, Schrader took down Nissenbaum, giving him a 6-4 victory and Maryland a 23-17 win. 

A Terps team that entered the day with zero dual-meet victories left with two thanks to another late rally from their back three, as coach Alex Clemsen’s squad defeated both Drexel and Duke at home in College Park.

“They believe in themselves. They have faith in themselves and faith in our process. They have faith in our program. They have faith in what they do and the work they’ve done. They went out and they executed,” Clemson said.

The Terps’ first dual-meet of the day was against the Drexel Dragons, who lost their first meet of the day against Duke and were looking for revenge. 

Starting off the meet at 125 pounds, Maryland’s Zach Spence took on Antonio Mininno who had already lost his first match of the day against Duke. Spence trailed 4-1 at the end of the first period, getting taken down twice. 

He began the second in down position but couldn’t get the escape. The third period began with Mininno in the down position, and he quickly got out of Spence’s grasp for another escape point. He took down Spence twice more and won the bout 10-2, thanks to riding time points.

Then, King Sandoval took on Deon Pleasant at 133 pounds. In a move that had the whole pavilion cheering, Sandoval flipped and took Pleasant, pinning him for an automatic victory. 

“I feel like a lot of the energy that gets our team going derives of how the dual starts, so I really wanted to get the dual rolling for us in terms of team points,” Sandoval said.

The Terps led 6-4 after two bouts.

Danny Bertoni and Jared Donahue squared off at 144 pounds, where Bertoni led after the first period 2-0 thanks to an early takedown. 

Bertoni opened up the second with a quick escape from the down position and held on the lead 3-0 going into the third.  After picking up a final takedown in the third, he held on to win 6-0 thanks to a bonus riding time point.

149 pounds featured Michael North, making his first appearance of the year, and Tyler Williams. Capitalizing off the momentum, he led 2-1 after the first period. Williams turned things around and took a 5-2 lead into the third period. 

He picked up another escape point early in the third and North couldn’t make up the difference. North lost 7-2 and Drexel cut the team score gap to just two points, making it 9-7 Terps.

At 157, Lucas Cordio took on 32nd ranked Parker Kropman, where Kropman took a 14-12 sudden victory in the closing moments of the bout. 

Halfway through the meet, Drexel led 10-9.

Coming out of the half, a narrow 7-6 victory for 165 pound Evan Barczak helped propel the Dragons forward in the meet. No. 14 Mickey O’Malley helped balloon Drexel’s lead further, as the Dragons led the Terps, 19-9.

Maryland’s Kyle Cochran took on Bryan McLaughlin at 184 pounds, and held on for an 8-5 win to give the Terps a glimmer of hope going into the final two bouts of the day.

The team score now sat at 19-12 in favor of the Dragons, with Jaron Smith up to face off against Santino Morina at 197 pounds. 

Smith was clearly looking to build off Cochran’s momentum. He smothered Morina, accumulating 3:19 of riding time and winning the match 17-2.  

This was just what Maryland needed; his 15- point victory put Zach Schrader in a position to win the dual-meet for the Terps with a regular decision victory. 

33rd ranked Zach Schrader looked to pick up his first dual-meet win of the season against Drexel’s Eli Anthony. A victory for him would mean a victory for the Terps, their first since early 2020.

Unbothered by the pressure, Schrader led 6-2 at the end of the first period thanks to three takedowns. Standing just three minutes from victory, Schrader led 10-4 heading into the third.

Schrader dominated in the final period, winning 18-5. 

“He really did a good job of putting himself in a position to win a match and then he executed to capitilize,” Clemson said.

Despite trailing 19-9 with just three wrestlers to go, the Terps battled through adversity, collecting their first dual-meet victory of the season. 

Kyle Cochran once again showed why he is a respected leader on the team. His victory spurred fellow veterans Jaron Smith and Zach Schrader to victory. 

Maryland won their first dual-meet since defeating Fresno State on January 10th, 2020 to snap a lengthy losing skid ahead of its next dual against rival Duke.

The Terps’ second dual-meet of the day was against the Duke Blue Devils who also beat Drexel in their first match of the day.

Spence took the mat for the second time on the day against Logan Agin, and took a 6-0 loss to start off the second match of the day for the Terps.

Bu Sandoval got his revenge for Spence against Drake Doolittle in the 133 pound weight. Sandoval wasted no time pinning Doolittle, tying the team score up at six, his second victory via pin of the day.

“I’ve been trying to wrestle the way that I want to wrestle, whether that be looking for the fall or just winning the match. I’m always constantly trying to adapt how I want to wrestle and it helped me today,” Sandoval said.

Danny Bertoni squared off against Patrick Rowland at 141, and led 2-0 at the end of the first period. Bertoni took down Rowland again in the second and continued to build on his ride time, leading 4-1 heading into the third. Riding time points were enough to give him a 7-1 victory. 

149 saw Michael North take on 11th ranked Josh Finesilver, who lived up to his high ranking with two takedowns in the first period. North was never able to build any momentum and fell, 13-4. 

Lucas Cordio was hoping to redeem himself from his earlier defeat against Wade Unger at 157 pounds. The two exchanged takedowns in the first, but Unger led 4-3 heading into the second thanks to a reversal. 

Unger didn’t allow Cordilo to get back into the match, taking him down and collecting four near-fall points early in the second. He maintained this 10-4 lead till the buzzer, shifting Duke’s advantage to just 13-9 halfway through the meet.

John Martin Best took on Brandon LaRue at 165 pounds, and battled to a 5-0 victory after accumulating nearly two minutes of riding time.

Dom Solis had the pleasure of taking on seventh-ranked Matt Finesilver.

The two went back and forth, neither scoring until the second period when Finesilver escaped from the down position and quickly took down Solis. 

And quickly, the score was 17-12.

Kyle Cochran, the man who brought the Terps back to life in the earlier meet, took on Vincent Baker. Looking to pull off more heroics, he took down Baker three times in the first period alone. 

Cochran stretched his lead in the third period and won 13-3, enough of a margin for a major decision. 

“For Kyle to be able to set me up and for me to be able to give that alley-oop to Schrader, that’s just something that’s another reason that you’re more than yourself on this team,” Smith said of Cochran,

Suddenly, the Terps were down by just one point.

For the second time that day, the Terps needed a dominant performance from Jaron Smith who was taking on Kaden Russell at 197 pounds. 

Smith delivered, emphatically taking down Russell with moves that had the entire Martland Bench on their feet more than once. He once again dominated his matchup, winning 15-2 and putting the Terps ahead 20-17.

And as Schrader took home the victory in sudden victory, Maryland rejoiced.

A Terps team that entered the day with zero dual-meet victories left with two thanks to another late rally from their back three. 

Maryland will be back in action on Saturday, December 11th, against Navy in the Xfinity Center Pavilion.

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