Two Maryland wrestlers make round of 16 in NCAA Tournament

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland wrestling sends five wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament, but their run all ended on Friday night. 

Maryland wrestling sent five wrestlers to Tulsa to compete in the NCAA tournament. Braxton Brown, the Miller brothers, Jaxon Smith, and Jaron Smith all competed for a spot on the podium. All five had a solid start on Thursday. 

Brown and Jaxon were the only two wrestlers to advance to the round of 16. Brown, the nineteenth seed, earned an upset victory over the fourteenth-seeded Patrick Surtin. Brown scored eight points in the bout, earning an 8-6 decision.

Eleven-seeded Jaxon Smith’s first victory of the day came against Minnesota’s Michial Foy. Smith scored two takedowns in the bout earning a 6-3 decision victory and a ticket to the round of 16. 

Kal Miller had a tougher road to the round of 32 than his other teammates. Miller was the only Terp to have to wrestle in a pigtail round. Miller beat Bloomsburg’s Josh Mason, 4-3, to earn a spot in the round of 32. Miller lost his bout in the round, having to face off against the No. 1 seeded Real Woods. 

Ethen didn’t have much success in his round of 32 matchups either. Miller went up against No. 12 Shayne Van Ness. Miller led for most of the bout until the momentum started to shift to Van Ness in the latter stages of the second period. Van Ness ended the bout in the third period, pinning Miller for the win. 

Jaron Smith, wrestling in his last NCAA tournament, drew a tough assignment having to go up against the No. 4 seed Tony Cassioppi. Cassioppi controlled the whole bout winning easily, 10-0. 

The losses dropped the three Terps into the consolation bracket. Those Terps found success in that bracket, winning all three of their bouts. 

The first win came from Kal Miller. Miller took on Navy’s Josh Koderhandt, a matchup he struggled with earlier in the year. Koderhandt beat Miller by a decision back in December when Navy and Maryland held a dual against each other. This time Miller got the upper hand. Miller won the bout 5-3 to advance to the next round. 

Ethen Miller took on a familiar foe in the consolation round as well. Miller took on Alec Hagan (Ohio) for the second time this season. In the first matchup between the two, Miller earned a decision victory over Hagan. History repeated itself with Miller coming away with another decision victory, this time, 4-0.

Jaron Smith advanced to the next round as well, beating Konner Doucet. Smith came off big in the third period of the bout scoring four straight points off of a reversal and two near-fall points to secure the 7-3 victory. 

One more Terp fell into the consolation bracket on Thursday night. Brown struggled to gain any traction in his round of 16 bout against No. 3 seed Liam Cronin. Brown suffered his second straight defeat against Cronin, the first coming in the Big Ten Tournament.

Jaxon Smith was successful in his round of 16 bout defeating No. 6 seeded Issac Trumble. Smith ended the bout in the first period earning the pin with 45 seconds left in the period. Smith’s victory vaulted him into the quarterfinals on Friday.

Smith and the rest of the Maryland team survived to wrestle on Friday. That was the most Maryland has advanced to the second day of the tournament since 2010.

The second day didn’t go well for Maryland. All five of Maryland’s wrestlers lost their matchups, ending the Terps’ season.

Brown went up against Rutgers’ Dean Peterson for the third time this season. In their first matchup, Brown won 8-0, but Peterson beat Brown in the Big Ten Tournament, setting the season record at 1-1. Peterson got the best of Brown in this matchup winning, 6-0 and ending Brown’s tournament run. 

Kal Miller lost his bout against Northwestern wrestler Frankie Tal Shahar, 8-2. Miller was only able to score two escape points in the bout.

Ethen Miller’s tournament hopes were ended by a familiar foe, Chance Lamer. Lamer and Miller met for the first time this season at the Big Ten Tournament. Lamer beat Miller in sudden victory during that tournament but he only needed regulation in this one. Lamer beat Miller 4-2, ending his season. 

Jaron Smith’s final bout of the tournament was a nail-biter. Smith and his opponent A.J. Nevills were deadlocked at 1-1 at the end at three. Smith used multiple attacks in the sudden victory round but none of them landed. Nevills was the one that landed the key attack, earning a takedown, and winning the bout.

Jaxon Smith suffered two defeats on Friday. The first came in the quarterfinal bout. Smith lost the bout to No. 3 seeded Rocky Elam. Elam held Smith scoreless through the first two periods. Smith recorded a takedown and escape in the third, but it wasn’t enough. The loss sent Smith to the consolation bracket with the chance at still becoming an All-American.

Smith wasn’t able to earn that title, losing in the consolation bracket. Smith and Max Dean (Penn State) met for the first time in this bout and Dean got out to an early lead, an escape, and a takedown in the second period. Smith had an escape in the second and third periods, but couldn’t come up with the key takedown. Smith lost the bout, 3-2. 

The losses conclude the Terps season. Maryland ends the year with a 10-9 record and some memorable victories against Pitt and Purdue. The Terps’ win over Pitt was their first ranked victory since 2013 and the win against Purdue was it’s first against a Big Ten opponent since 2016.