ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Sophomore Youssif Hemida won two matches and advanced to the Session IV Blood Round to highlight Maryland’s performers on day two of the 2017 NCAA Championships Friday night. Hemida came up just short of All-American honors, while two other Terps finished up their weekends in the wrestle back rounds Friday.
“Our guys wrestled with a lot of grit and heart this weekend,” said head coach Kerry McCoy. “We were really close in a few matches. I’m very excited to have the group we have returning with NCAA experience. We are better than we were last year and we will continue to get better.”
Hemida started his day against NC State’s Mike Kosoy in his second wrestle back match of the weekend, winning 4-3 in tiebreaker to advance. The Mamarnoneck, N.Y. native had some chances to takedown in regulation, but the two went to sudden victory after trading escapes in the second and third periods. After a scoreless SV-1, Kosoy got out in the opening tiebreaker period to make it 2-1. Hemida then got his escape, and finished off a takedown right at the mat's edge to clinch the decision in the closing seconds.
An early takedown proved to be crucial in Hemida’s ensuing match against Campbell’s Jere Heino, getting a hold of a leg and finishing to go up 2-0. An escape would put him ahead 3-0 in the second, before Heino got on the board with an escape of his own in the third. Heino continued to pressure down the stretch, but Hemida held strong fended off attacks to eventually pull out a 3-2 decision.
Hemida’s two morning session wins put him into contention for All-American status, as he earned a spot in one of Friday night’s coveted Blood Round matches. There he faced Arizona State’s Tanner Hall, who entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed and advanced to the quarterfinals before dropping to wrestle backs. After a scoreless first period, Hall escaped to go ahead 1-0 in the second, and had another point tacked on after Hemida was hit with his second stall call.
Hemida managed to come within one after escaping in the third, and left no gas in the tank as he pursued Hall for the winning takedown. The ASU grappler got hit with a stall call in the closing seconds, but avoided Hemida’s offense to eventually win 2-1. Hemida ends the season 23-13, and will return for his junior season as one of the nation’s top-20 heavyweights.
“Youssif making the All-American round is huge,” said McCoy. “He’s one of the most dedicated guys we have and it’s good to see his hard work pay off.”
Redshirt sophomore Alfred Bannister posted his second bonus point victory of the weekend in his first wrestleback match, as the La Plata, Md. native pinned George Mason’s Sahid Kargbo in the first period. Bannister then ran into Wisconsin’s Andrew Crone in wrestle backs, and came up short to the Badger grappler, 7-4. Bannister put together an impressive redshirt sophomore campaign, going 24-7 on the year while placing sixth in the Big Ten.
Redshirt sophomore Ryan Diehl (141) had his first NCAA Championship appearance come to an end in his first wrestle back Friday, going down to No. 3 overall seed Joey McKenna, 9-0. Diehl was one of the surprises of the Big Ten Tournament, placing fifth while knocking off three ranked opponents to put his name back in the national conversation.
Maryland finished with 8.5 team points, and will bring all three of its day two competitors from this weekend’s action back for the 2017-18 season.