By Juan Herrera
In a season full of struggles for the Maryland wrestling team, heavyweight Youssif Hemida has been one of the young team’s most important wrestlers.
With a 16-1 record, No. 10 Hemida has picked up wins over some of the toughest opponents at his weight class from all over the nation.
At the 55th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships, Hemida was able to beat Edinboro’s No. 9 Billy Miller in the quarterfinals by a decisive margin.
Although Hemida went on to lose to Arizona State’s No. 4 Tanner Hall 2-1 in the semifinals, the Maryland heavyweight wrestler bounced back to finish third at the tournament after picking up two straight pins.
“I had a chance to get some revenge against a familiar opponent but I couldn’t get it done,” Hemida said. “But that just gives me more of a drive toward March. I solidified the fact that I’m one of the better guys in the country and can compete with the best guys in the country.”
With his third place finish at the Midlands, Hemida became the Maryland wrestling team’s highest placer at the tournament since Jimmy Sheptock and Christian Boley both came in first place at their respective weight classes in 2013.
Hemida was able to keep his momentum going against No. 2 Ohio State on Friday when he faced off against heavyweight Kevin Snyder. Though the Terps were already trailing 45-0, Hemida was able to put some points on the board for Maryland to prevent the shutout.
Hemida went aggressively at Snyder and was able to earn takedowns against the redshirt freshman throughout the match to win 8-1.
“It’s always good to finish with a win and Youssif’s done a great job,” Maryland head coach Kerry McCoy said.
That match against Ohio State turned out to be the third time this season where Hemida’s win prevented a shutout. Along with that, there have also been occasions where Hemida has even given Maryland wins against opponents this season.
Earlier in the year against Stanford, Hemida picked up a last-second win over No. 11 Nathan Butler that allowed Maryland to break a 15-15 tie to win the match 18-15.
The heavyweight also helped put Maryland in a position to win when the team was trailing Campbell 19-16 earlier this season. Hemida beat his opponent by decision and was able to tie up the match for Maryland, which they later won by a bonus point.
“I like having it all up to me if it comes down to that situation,” Hemida said. “Even if it’s to save the shutout or whatever it may be, I don’t mind being the last guy up.”
While Maryland has often struggled to compete against some of the tougher teams in the Big Ten, Hemida has proven he can get the job done at heavyweight.
With several conference matchups remaining, Hemida still has some stiff competition on the way, but the heavyweight wrestler isn’t too worried about it.
“I think when I step out, my whole team has confidence in me being able to beat whoever it may be; whether it be a ranked guy or a backup,” Hemida said. “I think the guys have confidence in me and that definitely helps put some confidence in myself.”