Oct. 20, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland wrestling program had a breakout season last year, winning its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 35 years with a perfect league record and dominating dual action with a 16-4 record.
With nine of 10 starters returning in 2008-09, including all six NCAA qualifiers, first-year Head Coach Kerry McCoy inherits a talented roster looking to improve on last season's success.
"I am very exited for this season," McCoy said. "We have a great group of guys and high expectations."
The Terrapins return a host of letterwinners, headlined by junior Hudson Taylor at 197 pounds.
Taylor dominated to the tune of a 37-3 record last season, winning the ACC championship and placing third at the NCAA Championship en route to becoming the program's first All-American since 1997. Taylor defeated eight nationally-ranked wrestlers a season ago, including No. 1 ranked, returning national champion Josh Glenn of American.
"Hudson did a great job last season and really raised the bar for the rest of the guys on the team," McCoy said. "He confirmed what many already believed: You can win at the highest level at the University of Maryland."
Based on last year's success, the Terps have a challenging and exciting slate of competition this season. The schedule includes high-profile matches against defending national champion Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Navy and Lehigh, among others.
The difficult schedule should leave the Terps battle tested once ACC competition begins, putting them in good position to repeat as conference champions.
"This season is definitely going to be a challenge," McCoy said. "We will be tested every week, which will ensure that we will be prepared for the postseason."
Junior Brendan Byrne looks to be the front runner in the 125-pound weight class.Byrne is coming off a 19-win season that included 13 dual meet wins. Byrne won five matches by major decision, one by technical fall and one via pin in 2007-08.
The 133-pound division is in great shape this season with junior Steven Bell returning. Bell saw almost all the action at 133 last season, posting an impressive 29 wins, with 16 dual meet wins. Bell was the ACC champion in this weight class and won three matches at the NCAA Championship with wins against two ranked wrestlers.
The 141-pound division could be one of the more competitive weight classes on the team this season.
Jon Kohler is the returning starter. He won 17 matches and won the ACC championship last season.
Alex Krom is back after redshirting a season ago. Krom won 22 matches two years ago and was ranked as high as 13th in the nation.
Sophomore Eric Medina is back at 149 pounds and is primed for a big season. Medina made an immediate impact as a freshman last year, winning 21 matches and earning an at-large selection to the NCAA Championship.
Medina had seven wins via pin last year, the second-most pins on the team and also won four matches by major decision. Medina was ranked as highly as 13th in the nation last season. Medina posted three wins against ranked foes a year ago.
Steve Fehnel is the lone fifth-year senior on the squad this year. He will look to make the most of his last season. Other challengers at this weight will be Shawn Mazzarone, Jacob Stout, Cory Biscaha, Boban Dedovic, Danny Bichner and Scooter Golden.
Sophomore Brian Letters is coming off an impressive freshman season and should be the Terps' main guy in the 157-pound division.
Letters won 18 matches a season ago, including a 4-1 record in ACC duals and an ACC title. After a hard-fought berth to the NCAA Championship, Letters had maybe his most impressive victory of the season once there, knocking off No. 9 Chase Pami of Cal Poly. Andrew Bradley is another option at 157. Bradley battled injuries through his career, but looks to step in and make an impact this season.
Mike McGill saw the majority of the action in this class last season and is back again this year. McGill won 11 matches last season. It is possible Letters could move up from 157 to wrestle in that class. Newcomers Josh Asper and Corey Peltier will also look to challenge here.
Junior Mike Letts is one of the top wrestlers in the nation at 174 pounds and will be the primary option.
Letts was 22-6 last year and was ranked as highly as sixth in the nation en route to an ACC title and NCAA Championship berth. Letts was a perfect 5-0 in ACC duals and registered nine major decisions and four pins.
Brad Nielson is the only other returner with experience in this class. Newcomers Patrick Klenkel and Joey Gilpin will add depth to this weight class.
DiPietro, a junior, is the only one with any experience in this class as the others are all incoming freshmen.
The 197-pound division is clearly the strength of the team as All-American Hudson Taylor is back for his junior season.
Taylor saw all the action in this class a year ago, posting a gaudy 37-3 record and top-five national ranking. Taylor won 18 of his 37 matches by pin in an ACC championship season that saw him finish third at the NCAA Championships and earn ACC Wrestler of the Year honors.
Tommy Sitar will look to push Hudson and add depth at 197.
Sophomore Patrick Gilmore saw all the action in the 285-pound division a season ago.
Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, The Terps face a challenging schedule for the upcoming year.
The season begins with the annual Red & Black Wrestle-Offs exhibition October 24.
Regular-season action starts November 1 at the Fighting Scot Duals in Edinboro, Pa., where the Terps won two of three matches a season ago. Some Terps may participate in the Eastern Michigan Open the next day.
November 9 will be an emotional match as Maryland heads to Lehigh to face the Mountain Hawks, now coached by Pat Santoro, who coached the Terps the last five seasons. McCoy also has plenty of history with Lehigh and Santoro. McCoy and Santoro shared the sidelines as assistants at Lehigh and Santoro was an assistant at Penn State when McCoy was on the wrestling team. A partial team will be at the East Stroudsburg Open November 15 before participating in the Body Bar Invitational in Ithaca, N.Y. November 22. Maryland is again in New York November 29 for the Northeast Duals in Guilderland, N.Y. The Terps will face Drexel, defending national champion Iowa and Missouri in the competition.
McCoy returns to his alma mater December 7 for the Penn State Open.
The first home match is scheduled for December 14 against Princeton with trips to Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and Evanston Ill. to follow the next two weekends.
Atlantic Coast Conference competition begins January 11 with a home tilt against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Following the North Carolina matchup, the Terps have exciting road confrontations at Oklahoma on January 16 and at Nebraska January 18.
ACC competition renews January 24 in Raleigh, N.C., where the Terps will face both NC State and Duke.
In-state rival Navy comes to College Park January 30 for what should be a closely-contested match after the Terps defeated the Midshipmen, 21-18, in Annapolis, Md. last season.
A partial Terps roster will return to Edinboro, Pa. February 7 for the Edinboro Open before more regional competition.
Maryland visits Virginia Tech February 8 and makes the short trip to Washington, D.C. February 13 to face American University.
The regular season concludes with a pair of home matches against George Mason and conference rival Virginia February 21 and 22, respectively.
The ACC Championships will be held March 7 in Blacksburg, Va., where the Terps will look to repeat as conference champions. The NCAA Championships are set to take place March 19-21 in St. Louis, where the Terps finished 21st a season ago, highlighted by a third-place national finish in the 197-pound division by Hudson Taylor.