Oct. 18, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - When the Maryland wrestling team opens the regular season Sunday, Nov. 4 with the Terrapin Duals, which follows its annual Red & Black Intrasquad meet on Oct. 27, the Terrapin lineup will be buoyed by the presence of nine returning starters from a team that won the 2012 ACC Championship and qualified seven wrestlers for the NCAA Championships.
The veteran presence is particularly strong at 125, 133 and 141 pounds, where all three starters - junior Shane Gentry (125), sophomore Geoffrey Alexander (133) and junior Frank Goodwin (141) - return following strong campaigns last season. Add in several returnees and the addition of a talented freshmen class, the lower weight classes should be an area of strength for the Terps.
After an up-and-down sophomore season which culminated in a second-place finish at the ACC Championships and a bid to the NCAA Championships, Gentry will look to build on his successes and win Maryland's first ACC title at 125 since Brendan Byrne in 2009. The Stafford, Va., native begins the season ranked 18th by WIN Magazine.
"Shane battled his weight management throughout last year," said head coach Kerry McCoy. "Some weekends were good and some weekends were bad, but ultimately at the end, he performed at the ACC tournament and got to the NCAA tournament to get that experience."
Joining Gentry at 125 are two returnees, redshirt freshmen Paul O'Neill and Josh Polacek, and true freshmen Billy Rappo and Cody Stageberg. Both O'Neill and Polacek participated in open competition in the 2011-12 season. O'Neill finished with a record of 7-6 and reached the semifinals of the Shorty Hitchcock Open in January, while Polacek compiled a record of 1-3.
Rappo, a three-time Pennsylvania state medalist and a two-time champion, will be in the mix at 125 along with Stageberg, a Virginia state champion in 2011.
At 133, Alexander is the odds on favorite to start for the Terps after a successful freshman campaign in which he finished with a 22-12 record en route to a second-place finish at the ACC Championships and a bid to the NCAA Championships.
Alexander finished second on the team with six wins by technical fall and earned Freshman of the Year honors at the end-of-the-season team banquet. Amateur Wrestling News pegs Alexander as the 17th-best wrestler at 133 to begin the season.
"Geoffrey is one of those guys who just refuses to lose," said McCoy. "He's gotten better every week and every month. From last year to this year, we expect big things."
Junior Jenkins Monzey is moving up to 133 from 125 and should provide Alexander ample competition in the practice room. Monzey is 25-17 over the last two seasons wrestling mostly in open competition. He was named co-Redshirt of the Year at the team banquet after posting a 22-11 record as a freshman.
Freshman R.J. DeGeorge will join Alexander and Monzey at 133. DeGeorge is a two-time New Jersey state qualifier and won a school-record 139 matches while starring at Pequannock Township High School.
In one of the toughest weight classes in the ACC, junior Frank Goodwin emerged as the Terps' top performer at 141 pounds last season. Goodwin faced a team-high seven ranked wrestlers in 2011-12 and finished with a record of 10-12.
"For a bunch of different reasons, we had a bunch of different guys in at 141 last season," said McCoy. "At the end of the day, Frank was the guy who was performing at the highest level competitively."
Goodwin will compete against a crowded 141-pound field for his starting spot. Junior Danny O'Malley improved over the offseason and has put himself in a position to challenge for the starting nod.Freshman Shyheim Brown, a 2012 Pennsylvania state finalist, has impressed the coaching staff in the practice room and will be in the mix along with fellow freshman Derek Evanovich. Senior Brad Molina and sophomore Shane Arechiga, who is moving up from 133 pounds, will compete for mat time as well.