New Weight, Same Goals for Sheptock
Jan. 8, 2013
By: Taylor Smyth, Maryland Athletics Media Relations
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - After a season in which he compiled a record of 27-6 and took home his first ACC title, one would think that Jimmy Sheptock would be a stalwart at 174 pounds for the Maryland wrestling team heading into the 2012-13 season.
But before the season, fellow standout Josh Asper, a two-time All-American at 165 pounds, decided to move up to Sheptock's weight class, and the redshirt junior had to sacrifice for the good of his squad.
"Every single year I've gone up a weight. It's been a reoccurring theme," Sheptock said. "I feel like I'm strong enough at the weight and usually when you go higher, the guys get a little less athletic. I think it's a good fit for me."
Sheptock's move to 184 is just another example of the growing strength of Maryland's wrestling program. Led by fifth-year head coach Kerry McCoy, the Terrapins have established themselves as consistent contenders on the national stage, going 16-1 in dual meets last season and winning their fourth ACC title in the past five seasons.
Sheptock believes in the direction that McCoy is taking the Maryland program, and if that means him moving up in weight, so be it.
"He's an Olympian, so you know that what he's done in the past has worked," Sheptock said. "When you have someone who has had that type of success, you know that if you work hard, something good will happen to you."
McCoy may be controlling Sheptock's wrestling life now, but the Pennsylvania native has always had the sport in his blood. Both Sheptock's grandfather and father wrestled, and his younger brother Cole currently competes for the University of Pittsburgh.
Ever the competitor, Sheptock enjoys the sibling rivalry.
"It's been in the family for a while. My brother's a 149 pounder, so I can go home and beat him up sometimes."
While he may turn his focus to his brother out of season, Sheptock enters his junior campaign with his sights set on the best 184 pounders in the country. While he was proficient at 174, Sheptock seeks to exploit his athletic advantages at the new weight.
"I think I'm a little faster than some guys," Sheptock said. "I can get in a few different shots they're not used to. My flexibility will be tough for guys to deal with. I think it's a big factor."
For a wrestler, one of the most challenging aspects of competing is cutting weight. Unlike boxing, where fighters weigh-in the day before the event, giving them time to rehydrate and refuel, wrestlers weigh-in the day of competition. As a result, many wrestlers consume no more than water on the night leading up to an event, which would make any person grumpy.
Sheptock was once one of these grumpy competitors. Forced to cut at 174, the junior admits he was not always in the best frame of mind in the hours leading up to an event. Now wrestling much closer to his natural weight, Sheptock believes the enhanced freshness will be an advantage.
"After practice you don't have to worry about getting that extra couple pounds off," Sheptock said. "At practice, I'm just focused on getting better and I get to essentially wrestle matches at my weight. It's a big payoff."
Sheptock knows he may have to stay away from his starving teammates, even if he does enjoy the spoils of an easier weight cut.
"We have a few guys that are allowed to eat, so we try to stay away from the guys cutting weight -- not being able to eat is the worst thing."
Even though they may be on different meal schedules, all of Sheptock's teammates share the same goal; win. For Sheptock, this means improving on his All-ACC performance from last season that included a spotless 12-0 record in dual meets.
With a second-place finish at the prestigious Nittany Lion Open and fifth-place finish at the Midlands Championships already under his belt this season, Sheptock knows that more national level success will be the mark of his improvement.
"You've got to get on the podium," Sheptock said. "That's the main reason I came to Maryland. I knew Coach McCoy could help me get to that level. I had offers from other schools, but I didn't think I could get to that same level anywhere else."
While wrestling is an individual sport, the college format puts a large emphasis on team success. Within the framework of his individual goals, Sheptock sees big-time results coming for his team.
"We want ACCs. That's our number one goal," Sheptock said. "We have a tougher schedule this year and we want to show some of those Big Ten teams that we're ready and able to compete as soon as we get there. We want to be the best that we can be."
To accomplish those team goals, the Maryland wrestling team will need the best of Jimmy Sheptock. While last year proved to be a breakout season, the Terrapins' new number one at 184 seeks even bigger heights at his new weight class."My main goal is to win my last match at nationals, which would mean I'm an All-American. Out of everything, that's what motivates me."