March 17, 2009
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Four University of Maryland wrestlers are headed to St. Louis this week to compete in the 2009 NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Scottrade Center, as competition begins Thursday and runs through Saturday.
The Terrapins, who are coming off their second consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championship, will be represented by No. 9 Alex Krom (141 pounds), No. 11 Steven Bell (133 pounds), No. 9 Hudson Taylor (197 pounds) and Brendan Byrne (125 pounds). Krom, Bell and Byrne were all individual ACC champions, while Taylor was the runner-up.
"I am excited about the NCAA Tournament," Maryland head coach Kerry McCoy said. "I still get chills thinking about the energy that surges through the arena every session. Our guys look great. We have built off the momentum from the ACC's and looking to return from St. Louis with some hardware. We have been training for this all year and it's here now, so all we have to do is go wrestle. This year, the media coverage has been expanded, so it will give wrestling fans a chance to see much more of the competition."
Although he did not bring home an ACC title, Taylor is the highest-seeded Terp in the field. Taylor earned the 10 seed at 197 pounds and will face The Citadel's Andrew Delaney in his first match. Should he get past Delaney, Taylor will face the winner of seventh-seeded Brandon Halsey of Cal State Bakersfield and Buffalo's James Hamel.
Taylor finished third overall at last year's NCAA Championships, becoming the program's first all-American since 1997. If Taylor can earn all-American status again, he will become Maryland's first repeat all-American since David Land in 1992 and 1993.
Bell is the only other seeded Maryland grappler and also the only Terp making a return appearance to the NCAA's, coming in at 12th at 133 pounds. Bell will face Oregon State's Kelly Kubec, the 20th-ranked wrestler in the country, in his first-round matchup. If he gets by Kubec, Bell will take on the winner of fourth-seeded Andrew Hochstrasser of Boise State and Old Dominion's Kyle Hutter. Bell has already faced both Hochstrasser and Hutter this season, splitting the matchups. Bell lost a close decision, 7-4, to Hochstrasser at the Body Bar Invitational and edged Hutter, 4-3, at the Midlands Championships.
Despite his top-10 national ranking and conference crown, Krom is not seeded at 141 pounds and earned a tough first-round draw. Krom, who has not lost a match since the calendar turned to 2009, drew No. 4 seed Alex Tsirtsis of Iowa in the first round. Krom and Tsirtsis battled earlier this season at the Northeast Duals, with Tsirtsis escaping with a 4-1 victory.
The winner of the Krom-Tsirtsis match will face the winner of Oklahoma State's Jamal Parks and North Carolina's Vincent Ramirez.
In his first-ever trip to the NCAA's, Byrne will face No. 19 Steve Bonanno of Hofstra in the first round, with the winner facing the victor of the match between second-seeded Troy Nickerson of Cornell and Mike Watts of Michigan.
Maryland sent six wrestlers to the NCAA Championships last season and finished 21st as a team.
Friday and Saturday's action will be streamed live on the Internet at ESPN360.com and will also be televised on ESPNU. Saturday's championship matches will be televised live on ESPN.