March 18, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Maryland wrestling team, which departed for St. Louis on Tuesday morning, is preparing for the 2008 NCAA Championships to be held March 20-22 at Scottrade Center. The Terrapins, who won the 2008 ACC Championship, are sending six wrestlers to the tournament, the most since 1990. Sophomore Hudson Taylor is seeded seventh in the 197 pound division while classmate Mike Letts is 10th at 174.
Taylor, who is 31-2 on the year and has the second most wins in his bracket, will face Jared Villers of West Virginia in the opening match who is 15-0 this season. Letts, who is 22-4, will take on Wisconsin's Dan Clum who has an 8-11 mark.
Sophomore Steven Bell, who won the ACC Championship at 133 pounds, will take on fifth-seeded Nicholas Fanthorpe of Iowa State who is 28-4 on the year. Bell enters with a mark of 26-7.
Sophomore Jon Kohler will open with Air Force's Jacob Kriegbaum who is 23-11 on the season. Kohler enters with a record of 18-13 and has won his last eight outings which included the 141 pound title at the ACC Championships. Awaiting Kohler is a possible second round match against second-seeded Charles Griffin of Hofstra.
Freshman Eric Medina, who earned one of the ACC's four wild card bids to the NCAA Championships, will face Edinboro's Daryl Cocozzo in the first round. Medina sports a record of 20-11 while Cocozzo is 31-8.
Classmate Brian Letters, the 157 pound ACC Champion who is 17-13, is slated to wrestle ninth-seeded Chase Pami of Cal Poly to open the tournament. Pami is 24-4 this year.
Terps Ready For NCAA Championships
Maryland, which finished the 2007-08 campaign with the best winning percentage in school history, will compete in the 2008 NCAA Championships from March 20-22 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Maryland captured the 2008 ACC Championship by two points over Virginia to claim its first conference title since 1973.
The Terrapins finished the dual season with a 16-4 mark for a program-record .800 winning percentage.
The Terps' previous best winning percentage came last season, going 17-5 for a .773 clip.
Maryland's 33 wins the last two seasons are the most of any other two-year span in Terps' history.
Maryland has not lost an ACC dual in the last two seasons, going a perfect 10-0. It is the first time since 1972-73 and 1973-74 that the Terrapins have not lost an ACC dual in two-straight seasons.
Maryland went a perfect 7-0 at home this season in Comcast Pavilion.
Maryland Wins First ACC Title Since 1973
The No. 22 Maryland wrestling team claimed the 2008 ACC Championship on March 8 at Comcast Center by two points, securing the Terrapins' first ACC title since 1973. The Terps had five individual champions on the day and finished with 86.5 points while Virginia, who placed nine in the top three, had 84.5 points. North Carolina finished third with 77.0 points. It is the first time a team outside the state of North Carolina has won a tournament championship since 1977. Maryland's first title since 1973 now gives it 21 overall which leads the conference.
Entering the finals, the top three teams were separated by just seven points. Virginia led with 78.5 while North Carolina was right behind with 74.0. Maryland sat in third place with 71.5 points but had the most wrestlers in the finals with six. The Tar Heels had five while Virginia placed four in the finals.
Maryland has placed six wresters in the tournament this year which is the most since 1990.
The Terps have steadily improved their performances at the NCAA Championships under head coach Pat Santoro.
After not sending anyone to NCAAs in 2004, Charlie Pinto advanced in 2005 and Andrew Schlaffer made it in 2006.
In 2007, Mike Letts and Hudson Taylor advanced to nationals with Jason Kiessling and Maryland finished tied for 34th as a team. The three wrestlers at the NCAA Championships were the most since 2001.
Taylor advanced to the round of 12 last season and lost by one point to Jerry Rinaldi of Cornell.
Wrestlers of the Week
Maryland wrestlers earned seven ACC Wrestler of the Week nods during the regular season in 14 weeks, earning half of the bids.
Sophomore Hudson Taylor won the award a staggering five times which was more than any other team combined. North Carolina was the team with the next most nods with three.
Sophomore Mike Letts was the season's first recipient of the award earning it on November 6.
Junior Josh Haines won two weeks later on November 13 for the Terps.
Perfect In Conference
The Terps have two wrestlers that finished with an unblemished record in the ACC.
Sophomore Mike Letts went 5-0 in the ACC this season and has not lost a conference dual in his career, going 9-0 the past two seasons.
Sophomore Hudson Taylor started and won every ACC match this season for the second-straight year. He is now 10-0 in his career in the conference.
Two of his team-leading 17 falls have come in conference action. Half of his 10 career ACC wins have been by fall.
Been There Before
Two of Maryland's wrestlers for the NCAA Championships competed last year at nationals.
Sophomores Mike Letts and Hudson Taylor will both be making their second-straight appearance at NCAAs.
Letts won the 174 pound ACC Championship for the second-straight season and Taylor captured his first at 197. Last year, Taylor earned one of the ACC's four wild card bids to the tournament after losing in the final of his weight class.
Of the Terps' 10 starters during the regular season, five hailed from the state of Pennsylvania which borders Maryland to the north.
Three more starters were from nearby New Jersey and two hailed from Maryland.
The average distance in miles of the 10 starters from College Park was just 151 miles.
Quite a Turnaround
Head coach Pat Santoro has put a winning spirit back into the Maryland wrestling program the past three seasons.
After not winning an ACC dual and claiming just seven overall wins in his first two seasons, Santoro has led the Terps to 41 wins in the last three years and a 14-1 mark in the ACC.
Santoro's 17 wins last season was more than he had in his first three seasons combined as he was 15-32-1.
The Terps completed the best regular season in school history in 2006-07 as they went 17-5.
Maryland's .800 winning percentage in 2008 is a program record while the 33 wins in the last two years are more than any other two-year span in team history.
The Terps captured the 2008 ACC Championship for the first time since 1973.
On a Roll
A couple of Maryland grapplers head into the NCAA Championshipswith winning fresh in their minds.
Sophomore Steven Bell has won 10 of his last 11 outings at 133 pounds.
Sophomore Jon Kohler has been victorious in his last eight outings at 141 pounds.
Sophomore Mike Letts, ranked No. 9 at 174 pounds, has won his last 11 matches and has not lost since January 10. One of those wins came against a ranked opponent in No. 20 Eric Decker of Virginia Tech.
Sophomore Hudson Taylor is on quite a tear as he has not lost at 197 pounds since November 17. He is 31-2 and ranked No. 5 in the weight class while not having lost in his last 24 contests.
A Win For The Ages
Down 16-6 with three matches to go against No. 5 Michigan, the Maryland wrestling team completed an improbable comeback to take down the Wolverines, 18-16, in its opening match at the Journeymen/BRUTE Northeast Duals on November 24. Junior Josh Haines took down the No. 3 ranked wrestler at 184 pounds, sophomore Hudson Taylor earned a pin, and redshirt freshman Patrick Gilmore completed the run to steal the win.
The Terps were down 16-6 after seven matches against the Wolverines with sophomores Brendan Byrne and Steven Bell opening the dual with a pair of decisions. Michigan's powerful lineup, which featured three wrestlers ranked in the top five in their respective weight classes, rattled off five straight wins to take the commanding lead. Maryland's wrestlers kept the damage to a minimum though, allowing four decisions and one major.
Haines ended the Michigan streak with a stunning upset of No. 3 Tyrel Todd. After a scoreless first period, Haines rode out Todd to accumulate 2:00 of riding time. In the third, Haines scored an escape and a takedown. Todd's only point came on a stalling penalty to Haines.
Taylor recorded his fifth pin of the season in the first period against Anthony Biondo to pull the Terps within one, 16-15, with just the heavyweights to go.
Gilmore and his opponent, Matthew Guhn, went back and forth with Gilmore almost recording a pin at the end of the first and second periods. Gilmore began to pull away though with a 14-11 advantage and then closed the match out with an escape and a takedown to give Maryland one of its biggest wins in program history.
Terps Beat Midshipmen For First Time Since 1997
The No. 21 Maryland wrestling team did what it had not done in 22 years by beating No. 22 Navy in Annapolis, 21-18, in front of a capacity crowd of 1,025 at Halsey Field House on January 10. The Terrapins opened with a pair of victories and sophomore Hudson Taylor recorded his 12th pin of the season en route to the win. Maryland, which never trailed in the dual, beat the Midshipmen for the first time since 1997.
Santoro Signs Contract Extension Through 2013
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 March 14. 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. The Terps have gone 14-1 in the ACC in the last three seasons.
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 Hudson 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.
Mike 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.