By Juan Herrera (@)
The University of Maryland wrestling team continue their 2016-17 campaign with a trio of matches this weekend against North Dakota State, George Mason and Rutgers.
The Terps first travel to Fairfax, Virginia on Friday, where they will take on George Mason and North Dakota State. After that, the Terps will have less than two days to prepare for their home opener Sunday against Rutgers.
“The guys are excited,” head coach Kerry McCoy said. “It’s three tough matches for us, so it’s a big opportunity to compete.”
North Dakota State enter Friday’s dual meet match at Fairfax with a (3-2) overall record. The Bison have a strong roster, with several nationally ranked wrestlers, including Redshirt senior Josh Rodriguez, who is undefeated and ranked No. 5 at 125-pounds by InterMat Wrestling.
The Bison’s other ranked wrestlers are redshirt junior Clay Ream who is ranked No. 12 at 157-pounds and redshirt freshman Andrew Fogarty who is ranked No. 19 at the 165-pound weight class. Senior heavyweight Ben Tynan (7-1) and 149-pounder Kyle Gliva (9-0) are two of the Bison’s unranked wrestlers who are also worth mentioning.
This will be the first time the Terps take on North Dakota State. Maryland’s second match Friday will be against a much more familiar opponent in George Mason.
The Terps beat George Mason last season 31-9. This time around, the Patriots are (1-4) and do not have any nationally ranked wrestlers on their roster. However, they do have some experienced wrestlers who could give the Terps some trouble.
Redshirt senior Sahid Kargbo is currently undefeated at the 149-pound weight class for the Patriots and sophomore 141-pounder Tejon Anthony (7-4) has also been impressive this season.
After the match with George Mason, the Terps will not have much time to rest before their home match against No. 12 Rutgers on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights are one of the top teams in the nation, and feature four nationally ranked wrestlers and several other talented individuals.
Redshirt junior Anthony Ashnault (7-2) is ranked No. 6 at 141-pounds, while Nicholas Gravina (7-1), who is also a redshirt junior, is ranked No. 12. Redshirt sophomore John Van Brill (10-2) is also ranked No. 20 at 157-pounds for the Scarlet Knights.
One of the more interesting things about this match with Rutgers is that we could see Maryland’s No. 12 Alfred Bannister take on the Scarlet Knights’ No. 15 Ken Theobold (9-1) in a match at 149 pounds.
Heading into the three matches this weekend, the Terps have had trouble picking up wins. On the positive side, some of the younger wrestlers have shown significant improvement.
“The older guys have done a good job at setting a good example for the younger guys,” McCoy said. “The younger guys have been able to follow that example to not be afraid to step up just because they are young.”
Redshirt freshmen Josh Ugalde, Sam Rowell and Idris White all picked up wins for Maryland over Columbia at the Grapple at the Garden. Freshman Alex Vargas, who wrestles at 125-pounds, also picked up his first ever dual meet victory against Princeton.
“It was a big win for me,” Vargas said. “Coming off of it, I feel strong wrestling wise. I feel confident about these three matches.”
The Terps have not competed since their two matches at the Grapple at the Garden on Nov. 27, but redshirt senior Billy Rappo believes this time away from competition has given the team adequate time to recover and prepare for the trio of matches this weekend.
“I think we’re going to be good,” Rappo said. “We’re ready, rested and ready to compete this weekend.”
The Terps wrestle North Dakota State at 4 p.m. and then George Mason at 7 p.m. on Friday in Fairfax, Virginia. On Sunday, the Terps will be at home when they take on Rutgers at noon.