April 21, 1997
1996 Maryland Wrestling Season Review
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The 1996-97 Maryland wrestling squad had a season that brought back memories of Maryland wrestling glory of the past. The team finished with an 8-3 regular season and went 2-2 in the ACC. The postseason proved to be even more exciting as the team placed third in the ACC Championships at Raleigh, NC and placed 29th at the NCAA Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
At the ACC Championships, the Terps crowned two ACC champions: Arash Alizadeh at 158 lbs. and James "The Guzzler" Guzzio 134 lbs. Damon Stephens finished in second place at 167 lbs. Third place was a favorite for Terrapin wrestlers as they found themselves there five times. Junior Shane Mack (142 lbs.), junior Jeff Whalen (150 lbs,), junior Craig Garrison (177 lbs.), senior Brian Layman (190 lbs.), and Dave Vernier (HWT). Alizadeh, Guzzio, and Stephens were all named to the All-ACC Team.
Five Terrapins were then selected to participate at the NCAA Championships. Mack, Whalen, Stephens, Guzzio, and Alizadeh all qualified for the Tournament. Mack, Whalen, and Alizadeh all won at least one match. However the big winner was Guzzio.
Guzzio reached the semifinals at the 134 lb. weight class and finished fifth overall. Guzzio's performance qualified him to be Maryland's first All-American since 1992. Guzzio's only of the tournament losses came to Iowa's Mark Ironside (8-4 in the semifinals), who finished first and to Fresno State's Yero Washington (10-8 in overtime), who finished third. Those two losses were not only Guzzio's only losses of the NCAAs, they were his only losses of the season.
"The Guzzler" finished the season with a record of 39-2 and at one point was 38-0. The 38 wins to start the season for Guzzio set a Maryland record for consecutive victories at any time during a career. Guzzio was named ACC Performer of the Week three separate times during the season and culminated the season by being named ACC Wrestler of the Year, Maryland's first ever. He finished the season ranked No. 5 at his weight class by Amateur Wrestling News.