As the Maryland wrestling team prepared for the 2012-13 season, head coach Kerry McCoy stood in an enviable position. The Terps were returning nine of their 10 starters from the previous season including four ACC champions and a two-time All-American in Josh Asper.
But as the season approached, an injury to heavyweight Spencer Myers, which occurred during the summer resulting in a redshirt season, and several lineup adjustments changed the makeup of the 2012-13 Terrapins. Myers’ redshirt along with Asper’s jump to 174 pounds and Jimmy Sheptock’s move to 184 created openings at 165 and 285. In addition, Ben Dorsay, the starter at 149 in 2012, made the jump to 157 and was scheduled to serve a redshirt season to get acquainted with the new weight class.
As a result, Maryland’s lineup remained unsettled for the first half of the season as the coaching staff tinkered with the right combination and attempted to overcome injuries to Asper, Domenic DeRobertis and Frank Goodwin.
Despite the bumps encountered, the Terps put together a 14-win season wrestling against many of the nation’s top teams, turned in a solid performance at the NCAA Championships and added another member to the wall of All-Americans in the training room.
"You always look back and you have things you could have done better,” said McCoy. “Overall, we did well. It wasn't as good as we would have liked. But we had three ACC champs, five NCAA qualifiers, three guys in the All-America round and an All-American.
"The biggest thing we have to focus on is making sure our guys collectively understand what our goals and expectations are. If we stay focused on our goals and expectations good things will happen."
Maryland opened its campaign in strong fashion with dual victories over Johns Hopkins and West Virginia in the annual Terrapin Duals. One week later, four wrestlers won individual titles at the Brockport/Oklahoma Classic as the Terps took second place behind the Sooners.
Asper won his third Classic title in three tries and was joined by Christian Boley, who won his second straight title, Shane Gentry and Jimmy Sheptock. Lou Mascola racked up three pins in the tournament for an aggregate time of 4:49, the best mark of the competition.
Maryland’s trip to Brockport served as final preparation for a challenging stretch of duals. Of its next six opponents, five ranked among the nation’s top 25. First up, the Terps took on Columbia, Illinois and Purdue at the Northeast Duals over Thanksgiving weekend.
The Terps dispatched of Columbia, 27-10, winning seven of the 10 matches before eking out a 20-19 victory over then-No. 23 Purdue. Maryland trailed by five points heading into the final match at 285. Needing a pin, Carl Buchholz delivered by scoring a fall 24 seconds into his match against Preston Quam.
Unfortunately, the momentum of Buchholz’s dramatic victory was short lived as the Terps fell to then-No. 6 Illinois in the final dual of the day.
The month of December began with a trip to the prestigious Nittany Lion Open, where Boley placed third at 197, before beginning a stretch of four straight duals including a trip to Madison Square Garden to take part in the inaugural Grapple at the Garden.
The Terps split duals against Pittsburgh and American, edging the Eagles 23-21 prior to making the trip to New York City. Maryland came up short against a talent-laden Buckeyes squad in the opening match, but defeated then-No. 14 Nebraska with another dramatic victory at 285. With the Terps trailing by two points, Buchholz grinded out an overtime victory against Donny Longendyke to secure a Maryland victory.
Maryland closed the calendar year at the Midlands Championships on the campus of Northwestern University. Sheptock took fifth place at 184 as the Terps placed 20th out of 48 teams.
After suffering a 22-15 setback at Bloomsburg to open 2013, the Terps returned home for the first time since the Terrapin Duals and welcomed Brown, Harvard and Stanford to Comcast Pavilion. The Terps finished the meet 3-0 after winning 20 of 30 matches. Geoffrey Alexander had two pins in his three matchups at 133 and Sheptock went 3-0 with a major decision and a fall.
The Terps played host to in-state rival Navy the following weekend and dropped a tight 22-18 decision. Each squad won five matches but the Midshipmen picked up bonus points in four of their wins including a pin in the final match to secure the victory.
One week later, the Terps opened ACC action against Virginia Tech and North Carolina. The Hokies pulled out a one-point win over the Terps, but Maryland responded the next night with a 21-16 win over the Tar Heels. After losing the first three matches of the dual, the Terps won five of the next seven and Dallas Brown provided an important pin at 285 to help the cause.
Despite thrilling victories by Gentry and Alexander over a pair of nationally-ranked wrestlers, the Terps lost a 21-19 decision to Virginia in its next dual. Maryland responded the following weekend with wins over NC State and Duke.
With its ACC schedule in the rearview, the Terps traveled to Columbia, Mo., to take part in the National Wrestling Coaches Association/Cliff Keen National Duals. The tournament consisted of four four-team regionals with the regional winners advancing to Minneapolis to join Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio State in the national finals.
The Columbia Regional consisted of Maryland, Missouri, Purdue and Wyoming. The Terps drew the host Tigers in the opening round. Asper, Boley and Sheptock earned wins for the Terps, but it was not enough as they fell, 27-13.
In the consolation round, Maryland knocked off Wyoming, 20-12, with major decisions by Boley and Sheptock leading the way.
In its final tune-up for the ACC Championships, Maryland took care of George Mason by a 23-15 margin to send its seniors out in style. In their final matches at Comcast Pavilion, Asper, DeRobertis and Aaron Norris all went out with a victory.
Playing host to the ACC Championships for the first time since 2008, the Terps entered the tournament with four No. 1 seeds in the 10 weight classes, which tied with Virginia Tech for the most in the conference. Of the four top seeds, three advanced to the evening session with a chance to claim an ACC crown.
At 174, Asper earned a 4-2 decision over second-seeded Jon Fausey of Virginia to become a two-time conference champion. Sheptock claimed his second ACC title with a 7-3 decision over third-seeded Stephen Doty of Virginia, and Boley won his second consecutive 197-pound title with a 7-2 decision over third-seeded Mike Salopek of Virginia.
In addition to the three conference champions, Alexander and Goodwin claimed automatic berths to the NCAA Championships at 133 and 141, respectively. Maryland finished third at the conference championships and shifted its focus to the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines.
With five berths to the NCAA Championships, it marked the fourth straight season the Terps had at least five wrestlers participating in the nation’s marquee event. Asper and Sheptock entered the tournament seeded, while Alexander, Boley and Goodwin were drawn into their respective brackets.
Asper, seeded fifth at 174, and Sheptock, seeded seventh at 184, both reached the quarterfinals. Asper’s bid to become a three-time All-American fell just short as the senior lost to fourth-seeded Robert Kokesh of Nebraska in the quarters, and fell in the All-American round against seventh-seeded Jordan Blanton of Illinois.
Sheptock claimed top honors for the Terps and became Maryland’s 19th wrestler all-time to earn All-American honors with a sixth-place finish at 184. After dropping a tight 1-0 decision to second-seeded Ben Bennett of Central Michigan in the quarterfinals, Sheptock responded with two dramatic overtime victories in the wrestleback to move into the medal round.
The Northampton, Pa., native defeated fifth-seeded Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota by scoring a takedown with 11 seconds remaining in sudden-victory to earn All-American status. In the ensuing match against Northern Iowa’s Ryan Loder, Sheptock scored a takedown with two seconds left in the first tiebreaker to earn a 3-2 decision.
Sheptock would drop a 6-2 decision to Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa in the fifth-place match.
Boley turned in a strong performance at nationals finishing one match shy of All-American status. After losing his opening match to 10th-seeded Scott Schiller of Minnesota, Boley rattled off three consecutive victories in the wrestleback including a 6-3 decision over ninth-seeded Jake Meredith of Arizona State. Boley’s run ended with a loss to 11th-seeded Blake Rosholt of Oklahoma State.
Maryland scored 16.5 points to finish the tournament tied with Wisconsin for 27th.
While Maryland came agonizingly close to having three All-Americans, the Terps can look to next season with a strong sense of optimism. Maryland will welcome back seven of its 10 starters and will once again have the services of Dorsay and Myers, who should solidify a talented returning core of wrestlers.
"I am really excited about the upcoming season,” said McCoy. “We have been fortunate the last couple of seasons only to lose one or two starters. We lose Josh this season, which are big shoes to fill, but getting Spencer and Ben back and some of these other guys coming off redshirts is exciting."As we transition into the Big Ten, we want to make sure our final season in the ACC is memorable."