March 21, 2009
ST. LOUIS - The University of Maryland wrestling program had a banner day in day two of the NCAA Championships Friday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Terrapins finished the day with three wrestlers clinching all-American status, tying the school record for all-Americans in a season. As a team, Maryland is in 11th place, with 41 points entering the final day of competition.
Alex Krom (141 pounds), Hudson Taylor (197 pounds) and Steven Bell (133 pounds) all survived the second day to secure all-American honors. It is the third time in school history that Maryland will have three all-Americans in the same season. Maryland had three all-Americans in the 1964 and 1987 seasons.
Taylor repeats as an all-American, becoming only the fourth repeat all-American in program history.
All three Maryland grapplers can still finish as high as third place Saturday, but can finish no lower than sixth.
"I'm really proud of the way all of our guys wrestled," Maryland head coach Kerry McCoy said. "It's awesome to have three all-Americans in the top six. We have to keep it up tomorrow."
The day was highlighted by Krom's appearance in the national semifinals, two wins shy of a national championship. However, Krom was defeated by No. 8 seed Ryan Williams of Old Dominion, 4-1. Krom, who defeated Kent State's Drew Lashaway in the quarterfinals, will face No. 6 seed Nick Gallick of Iowa State Saturday morning for the chance to advance to the third-place match.
Taylor had a tough road to repeat as all-American, winning a pair of nail-biters to stave off elimination. Taylor had an easy time in his opening match Friday, pinning Edinboro's Patrick Bradshaw in 1 minute, 21 seconds. Taylor's second match of the day was much more difficult. Matched up with fifth-seeded Dallas Herbst of Wisconsin, Taylor shut out the highly-rated Badger star, 2-0.
One win away from clinching all-American status, Taylor was matched up with a familiar face: George Mason's Cayle Byers, the No. 9 seed. Taylor and Byers met twice earlier this season, with both wrestlers winning one and losing one.
The talented duo engaged in a memorable battle. Taylor and Byers were tied at 4-4 entering the third period, with riding time favoring Taylor. After an early escape, Byers nearly secured a fall, taking down Taylor and almost getting near-fall points. However, Taylor turned the tables on Byers and regained the points he just lost with a reversal. Byers tied the score with an escape, but needed to make something happen with Taylor's riding-time advantage playing a factor. Byers took one last shot and nearly earned a clinching takedown, but Taylor defended successfully and earned the hard-fought, 8-7, win to seal his all-American fate.
Later Friday night, Taylor pinned Cornell's Cameron Simaz in 2:45 to stay alive and move on Saturday. No. 6 seed Max Askren of Missouri awaits Taylor Saturday morning. Askren defeated Taylor earlier this season, 9-4.
Needing three Friday wins to become an all-American for the first time, Bell got four. Bell, the No. 12 seed, scored a 14-8 decision over Pittsburgh's Jimmy Conroy in his first match and then took a 9-2 decision from Northern Illinois' Tristen DeShazer. One win shy of all-American honors, Bell had to defeat Kent State's Dan Mitcheff. Bell secured an early takedown in the first period and added an escape before holding off Mitcheff for a 3-2 victory.
Bell advanced to Saturday when Navy's Joe Baker had to forfeit for medical reasons. Awaiting Bell Saturday morning is the only wrestler to beat him in the tournament: Boise State's Andrew Hochstrasser. Hochstrasser defeated Bell in the second round, 9-2, and also defeated him in the regular season.
Saturday morning's action will be televised live on ESPNU, beginning at 10:30 a.m. ESPN360.com will also stream the action live on the Internet. Saturday night's championship round will be broadcast on ESPN.