BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Redshirt sophomores Ryan Diehl (141) and Alfred Bannister (149), in addition to sophomore Youssif Hemida (285) all placed for Maryland to end the Big Ten Championships Sunday afternoon. Diehl and Bannister, in addition to senior Billy Rappo (133) all secured automatic qualifier bids to the 2017 NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo.
The three placers is the most ever for the Terps in three years of competition at the Big Ten Championships, as the Terps took 11th in the team standings with 32 points.
Diehl added another highlight win to his Big Ten Championship resume, defeating #11 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) in the fifth place match with a convincing 12-2 major decision. Diehl and the Gopher 141-pounder provided a ton of early action, before the Berkeley Springs, W.V. native connected on a cement mixer to go up 6-0 at the end of the first.
Diehl then fought off Thorn’s turn in the second period, and added an exclamation point on his weekend with another takedown/near fall combo to end the match. Diehl opened his day vs. 12th-ranked Luke Pletcher of Ohio State, wrestling the Buckeye tough through three periods. A pair of takedowns ultimately won it for Pletcher, 4-2.
In all, Diehl knocked off three top-20 opponents on the weekend, and will ride a solid wave of momentum into the NCAA Tournament. His fifth-place finish is the highest ever for a Terrapin wrestler at the event.
“Overall I was pretty happy,” said Diehl. “We had people going out there and getting bonus points, and just getting after it. It’s been an awesome last half of the season, and this weekend was a big confidence booster.”
Rappo wrestled one of the more wild matches of the early session, winning 7-5 in sudden victory to clinch an automatic qualifier bid to NCAAs. Rappo came out ahead in a hectic back-and-forth ninth place match with Wisconsin’s Eli Stickley. Rappo was the aggressor early, getting a quick first period takedown to take the lead.
Rappo began building riding time, but was reversed to even the score at two. The Holland, Pa. native avoided the turn from Stickley before the whistle in the first, and again took the lead in the second with a takedown. Stickley managed to escape to make it 4-3 to start the third, and erased Rappo’s ride time on top.
Stickley eventually built up the RT point in his favor, and Rappo was hit with a stall to make it 5-4. But, Rappo forced a locked hands call in the closing seconds on an escape attempt, and the match went to sudden victory. Rappo came through in overtime, hitting an ankle pick to win the 7-5 decision and clinch his first ever appearance at the NCAA Championships.
WATCH - Rappo Wins in Sudden Victory
“This is what I’ve been wrestling for my entire career, to get to the NCAA Tournament,” said Rappo. “I’m really fortunate to have my coaches, teammates, trainer and support staff behind me. I got the job done this weekend, but we’re not finished yet.”
Youssif Hemida cemented a seventh place finish with his second win of the season over Northwestern’s Conan Jennings. Hemida never trailed in the match, getting a takedown and reversal for the eventual 4-1 decision. Hemida will await a potential at-large selection to NCAAs in the heavyweight class.
Bannister wrestled his eighth overtime match of the season in his consolation semifinal bout vs. Zach Hall (Michigan). Bannister and Hall both notched escapes in the second and third, sending the match into sudden victory. After neither could notch a takedown, Hall held in the first ride out period to keep the score at 1-1. Bannister cut the Wolverine grappler and went for the win in tiebreaker, but couldn’t get the take down and was bounced to the fifth place match. Bannister medicaly forfeited to take sixth.
Ohio State captured the team title with 139.5 points, followed by Penn State (130.0) and Iowa (112.5). Maryland will now prep for the 2017 NCAA Championships March 16-18 in St. Louis, Mo.