COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland wrestling team has qualified four wrestlers for the 2017 NCAA Championships March 16-18 in St. Louis, Mo.
Redshirt senior Billy Rappo (133), redshirt sophomores Ryan Diehl (141) and Alfred Bannister (149) and sophomore Youssif Hemida (285) will all wrestle in their first career NCAA Championship event this weekend.
Maryland’s four qualifiers is the most since the 2013-14 campaign when the team sent five wrestlers to Oklahoma City.
All matches will be streamed via ESPNU, Watch ESPN and ESPN3. The finals will be broadcast live on ESPN at 8:00 pm ET.
- Billy Rappo vs. #2 Seth Gross: Rappo drew the No. 2 overall seed in SDSU’s Seth Gross, who enters the NCAA Tournament with a season record of 30-1. The two met earlier this season at the Midlands Championships, when Gross came out ahead 11-3.
- Ryan Diehl vs. #4 Matthew Kolodzik: Diehl will go up against Princeton’s freshman phenom Matthew Kolodzik, who earned the No. 4 overall seed. Kolodzik is 26-2 on the season, with his lone losses coming to No. 2 seed Kevin Jack and No. 3 seed Joey McKenna.
- #13 Alfred Bannister vs. Hunter Ladnier: Baby J will take on freshman Hunter Ladnier of Harvard, who went 19-12 in his first collegiate season. Ladnier took second at the EIWA Championships to earn his first NCAA bid.
- Youssif Hemida vs. Thomas Haines: Hemida has drawn a rematch with Lock Haven’s Thomas Haines, after the two met earlier this season at the Cavalier Duals in November. Haines (31-5) is the No. 14 seed in the heavyweight bracket, and won 8-1 when the two squared off on November 20.
- Alfred “Baby J” Bannister earned the No. 13 seed in the 149-pound bracket after finishing 6th at the Big Ten Championships and going 22-5 on the year.
- Bannister kept fans on the edge of their seats this season, winning six of his matches by either sudden victory or tiebreaker. Bannister has won 13 of his matches by one or two points, with four of his five losses all being decided by one point.
- Bannister defeated five ranked opponents this season, and finished undefeated in duals (11-0). Baby J opened his 2016-17 campaign with 14 straight victories.
- Ryan Diehl (141) raised some eyebrows in the 141-pound bracket at the Big Ten Championships, knocking off three ranked opponents to eventually finish fifth.
- His fifth place podium finish was the best-ever for the Terps in three years as members of the Big Ten, as the Berkeley Springs, W.V. locked up an automatic qualifier bid to his first-ever NCAA Championship.
- After dropping his opening match to fourth-seeded Colton Crystal (Nebraska) and receiving a forfeit, Diehl started off the evening session with a win over 13th-ranked Christopher Carton (Iowa) in a back-and-forth 11-9 affair.
- Diehl rode that momentum into a stunning first period pin over 10th-ranked Jimmy Gulibon of Penn State. Diehl was hitting his spots early, then caught Gulibon on a counter shot and put him on his back for a 46-second fall.
- Diehl added another highlight win to his Big Ten Championship resume on Sunday, defeating #11 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) in the fifth place match with a convincing 12-2 major decision.
- Redshirt senior Billy Rappo has come into his own down the stretch of his final collegiate season, winning 10 out of his last 15 matches.
- Rappo earned the final AQ bid from the Big Ten in thrilling fashion, defeating Wisconsin’s Eli Stickley 7-5 in sudden victory to qualify for his first NCAA Tournament this weekend.
- Rappo won his final three Big Ten dual matches which included a fall over Tristan Law (Penn State). Rappo is the only wrestler to pin a Nittany Lion at Rec Hall this season, and the first to do it since December 14, 2014.
- Rappo dropped down to 133 pounds at the Midlands Championships, and took out two seeded opponents in the opening rounds.
- Rappo finished the year 16-13 overall, and is one win away from tying his career high for season wins (17).
- Sophomore Youssif Hemida has put together a stellar second half of his sophomore campaign, going 12-4 over since January while finishing seventh at the Big Ten Championships.
- Hemida earned an at-large bid to NCAAs after finishing 20-11 overall in his sophomore campaign.
- Three of Hemida’s losses over that stretch came at the hands of top-4 opponents, while all four were ranked in the top-15 via InterMat Wrestling.
- Hemida picked up a ranked win to end the regular season on Feb. 19, defeating #17 Joey Goodhart, 6-4 in SV-1. It was his fifth sudden victory win of the season.
- Geoffrey Alexander (133) was Maryland’s lone qualifier at last season’s NCAA Championships.
- Alexander won one match to become just the 10th Terrapin on record with 100 career wins while also finishing as a four-time NCAA qualifier.