March 14, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Maryland wrestling head coach Pat Santoro has signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Terrapins through the 2013 season, announced by director of athletics Deborah A. Yow on Thursday. The Terps have seen a remarkable turnaround as they have gone 33-9 over the last two seasons and captured the 2008 ACC Championship, Maryland's first since 1973.
"I'm excited to be given the opportunity to continue what we started and build this program to what we envisioned," Santoro said. "We are very fortunate to have an athletic director who shares that vision of having national success with us. We have a young, fun group of guys on our team that I am excited to work with over the next few years."
"Pat has proven he can recruit the best student-athletes, achieve competitive excellence and also expect results in the classroom," Yow said. "That reflects our values here at Maryland, so he has been a terrific fit. We are proud he and his wife Julie choose to stay here, building a top ten program. By bringing the ACC Championship back to College Park and sending six Terp student-athletes to this year's NCAA Championships, Coach Santoro has certainly put Maryland Wrestling back on the national map... where we expect it. We look forward to the future of Terp Wrestling under Pat's leadership."
Santoro, in his fifth year as head coach, has ignited the Terrapin wrestling program since he took over in 2003. After rebuilding the program in his first three seasons, the Terps began the turnaround in 2005-06 when Maryland went 4-1 in the ACC, earning a share of the regular season dual championship.
In 2006-07, Maryland had a record-breaking year as it went 17-5 in duals and was a perfect 5-0 in the conference, the first time it had went undefeated in the ACC since 1974. The win total matched the school record set back in 1990, but the winning percentage of .773 was the best ever in College Park.
At the ACC Championship in 2007, Maryland finished in second place, its best showing since 1990. A pair of wrestlers won ACC titles and advanced to the NCAA Championship. Former Terp Jason Kiessling won the championship at 165 pounds while sophomore Mike Letts, a freshman at the time, won at 174. Letts was the first true freshman since 1990 to represent the red and black at nationals.
Hudson Taylor, a redshirt freshman a year ago, earned one of the conference's four at-large bids to the NCAA Championship. He advanced to the round of 16 and lost by one point, barely missing out on becoming the first All-American for Maryland since 1997.
The Terps have had equal success this season with a 16-4 record and, for the second-straight season, went 5-0 in the conference. Maryland's .800 winning percentage this season established a new record and its 33 wins the last two years is more than any other two-year span in Terps history.
Santoro and the rest of the Terps won the 2008 ACC Championship on March 8 at Comcast Center. Five wrestlers claimed individual championships and six will be heading to the NCAA Championship in St. Louis on March 20, the most since 1990. All six of the wrestlers Maryland will be sending to nationals are underclassmen, as four of them are sophomores in eligibility and two are true freshmen.
Santoro has also guided Maryland into the national rankings this year, getting as high as No. 21. It was the first time that the Terps had been ranked since 1993. Included in the 16 wins is one of the most impressive dual meet victories in school history when the Terps beat No. 5 Michigan, 18-16, on November 24. The Terps also won at No. 22 Navy, which marked the first time Maryland had won in Annapolis in 22 years and was the first time Maryland had beaten the Midshipmen since 1997.
Besides team success, individual wrestlers have flourished under Santoro's guidance as seven different Terps have been ranked in the top 20 of their weight class this season. Leading the way has been Taylor, a sophomore, who is currently No. 5 at 197 pounds with a record of 31-2. His 17 falls this season are the fifth most in the country and he has not lost a match since November 17, a total of 24-straight wins.
Letts, also a sophomore, is currently ranked No. 9 at 174 pounds with a 21-4 mark.
Junior Josh Haines has been ranked as high as No. 17 in the nation at 184 pounds. Sophomore Steven Bell has spent time in the top 20 at 133 pounds as well as highly-touted freshman Eric Medina at 149. Senior Charlie Pinto and junior Alex Krom were also ranked in the preseason.
Santoro and the Terps are now preparing for the 2008 NCAA Championship beginning on March 20 at the Scottrade Center.