Jan. 28, 2010
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - After wrestling in 11 dual meets over the past three weeks, the 10th-ranked University of Maryland wrestling team finds itself in an unfamiliar position heading into the weekend - wrestling just once, against George Mason at 7 p.m. on Friday in Fairfax, Va.
The Terps wrestled in at least three matches in each of the past three weekends, facing five teams that are currently ranked in the NWCA Coaches Poll Top-25. Head coach Kerry McCoy designed the schedule to help the Terps prepare for March by facing some of the nation's toughest competition, but admits it has been a long, tough stretch.
"It's been a grueling month for the guys, but I've been happy with how they've responded," said McCoy. "It's going to be nice for them to have a weekend where they can focus on one match and then have some time to themselves. With that being said, this is the time where we really start fine-tuning for March and I expect our guys to come out focused and aggressive."
Maryland improved to 3-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play last Saturday by easily dispatching NC State 30-10 and Duke 32-9. The match against George Mason is one of only three remaining non-conference dual meets for the Terps - they face American on Feb. 12 and Hofstra on Feb. 14, which will be the final home match for All-America seniors Steven Bell, Alex Krom and Hudson Taylor, as well as seniors James Knox and Mookie Golden, and redshirt juniors Andrew Bradley, Rich DiPietro and Casey Marwine.
George Mason enters the match at 3-7 on the season, having lost three straight and five of their last six. Sophomore Mendbagana Tovuujav, who wrestles at 174 pounds, has been named the Colonial Athletic Association wrestler of the week for two straight weeks. In the Patriots' 34-7 loss to Missouri on Jan. 23, Tovuujav defeated 10th-ranked Dorian Henderson.
The Terps are 15-4, having won six of the past seven. Maryland is 11-1 against unranked opponents, with the lone loss coming at Navy on Jan. 22 - but the Midshipmen received votes in this week's poll. Taylor, ranked No. 3 in the country at 197 pounds, leads the team in wins (32) and dual meet wins (18). Josh Asper, at 165 pounds, is second on the team with 26 wins and has won eight of his last nine matches, with the lone loss coming at the hands of No. 1 Andrew Howe of Wisconsin. Kyle John's 25 wins at 157 pounds are third on the team, and the sophomore has gone 15-4 in dual action so far this season.
Following the match with George Mason, Maryland gets a much needed break before returning home on Saturday, Feb. 6, for a home meet with No. 19 Virginia Tech at 7 p.m.
Probable matchups - No. 10 Maryland vs. George Mason
125 - Pat Strizki or James Knox vs. Brian Wright
133 - No. 11 Steven Bell vs. Denny Herndon or Zachory Huxford
141 - Matt Bogusz or No. 9 Alex Krom vs. Jaaziah Bethea
149 - Jon Kohler vs. Brandon Bucher
157 - Kyle John vs. Aaron Keeton
165 - No. 15 Josh Asper vs. Frankie McLaughlin
174 - Owen Smith vs. Mendbagana Tovuujav
184 - Corey Peltier vs. Andrew Rock or Jimmy Webb
197 - No. 3 Hudson Taylor vs. Bill Widener
HWT - Patrick Gilmore vs. Adam Barnette