By Katherine O'Toole, Maryland Media Relations Student Assistant
A senior season can define a college athlete. It can be a breakout year. It can be the last mark he or she leaves on a school. But for senior Jimmy Sheptock, all of those things have already been accomplished.
Between winning individually at ACC Championships twice and being named an All-American, Sheptock has left no doubt that he came to Maryland to make an impact. He constantly sets goals for himself, and he constantly achieves them.
Last season he earned sixth at NCAA Championships at 184. This year, he’s going for an individual NCAA champion title. He has been on the podium, but this year he wants to be on top.
There is not anything like the ambition of a hard-working athlete. Head wrestling coach, Kerry McCoy, will be the first to say that Sheptock is constantly dedicated and improving.
“Four years ago when he stepped on campus, [he was] one of our hardest workers, one of our most dedicated guys,” McCoy said. “If he can continue that, if he does that, there’s going to be good things in the end.”
When Sheptock arrived at Maryland, it was not just his hard work ethic that made him stand out to his teammates and coaches. His ability to lead by example and his leadership have only gotten stronger throughout the years.
“I think in the past he’s led by example, and toward the end of last year and this year he’s done a little more of active leadership,” McCoy said. “I think that’s definitely an area where he can have a huge impact because people look at him and say, ‘Well, he’s doing X, Y and Z, and if I want to get to his status, I can follow that.’ It’s easy to sit back and look at someone, but when they’re saying, ‘Hey, come on. Let’s do it together,’ it’s that much better.”
Sheptock knows that he has a responsibility on and off of the mat. He looks to this season with the same ambition and dedication as always.
“[This season I want to] win ACCs again individually,” Sheptock said. “This is the last year, the last time at ACC Championships. That would be my third individual win and my third team win.”
But Sheptock knows the season does not end with ACCs, and he has set even higher goals for himself at NCAA Championships. “The ultimate goal is to be a national champion this year. I got on the podium last year and I just want to keep building off of that.”
He believes the team can be ACC Champions, too. “We’re expecting to win the ACC Championship this year. You don’t want to go into the year saying ‘Hey, let’s finish top three.’ That’s not a good goal to have for yourself. You want to hold yourself to a high standard. Want to finish top 10 [or] top five at nationals as a team. Just continue to grow and get better.”
Despite his confidence, he knows he can always get better. “There’s always room for improvement. Especially when I took sixth, I didn’t take first last year [at NCAA Championships]. So just really fine tuning every part of your game just to get to that higher level is really the ultimate goal.”
This season, Maryland will compete against the younger Sheptock brother, Cole, who wrestles for the University of Pittsburgh. Though the brothers are not competing in the same weight class, it is still a meet he looks forward to. “I wouldn’t call it a huge sibling rivalry, but I’m pretty close with my brother so when we go to see him, we’ll have some rivalry.”
Sheptock and the Terps start the 2013-14 season with the Terrapin Duels on Nov. 3.