COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Senior Jason Kiessling, redshirt freshman Hudson Taylor, and freshman Mike Letts will all travel to the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan to represent Maryland at the 2007 Division I Wrestling Championships. The tournament begins on Thursday, March 15 and ends on Saturday with the championship finals at 8:00 p.m. It is the most wrestlers that the Terrapins will send since the 2001 season.
For the first time ever, the championship finals will be aired live on ESPN, starting at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday night. The quarterfinals and the semifinals will be aired live on ESPNU and ESPN 360. Live results will be available online at NCAAsports.com. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Palace of Auburn Hills Box Office directly at (248) 377-0100.
Kiessling, ranked No. 12 in the nation at 165 pounds, will take on 12th-seeded Johnny Galloway of Northern Illinois in the second round on Thursday morning. Both wrestlers earned a first round bye. Kiessling is 29-7 this season and earned his bid to nationals by winning the ACC title at 165 pounds. Kiessling's 29 wins this season matches his career high win total in 2005. He has won 13 of 14 matches heading into the tournament.
Galloway enters the tournament ranked No. 13 in the nation as he finished second in the Mid-American Conference in his weight class and earned a wild card bid. In last years NCAAs, Galloway upset the fourth seed on his way to the quarterfinals and came one point away from earning All-American status and placing in the top eight. Galloway is currently 23-11 this season.
Taylor, ranked No. 15 at 197 pounds, will face Cal Poly's No. 17 Matthew Monteiro in the second round. Taylor went 26-8 with a team-best 14 falls. He finished second at the ACCs after winning his first two matches by fall. Taylor earned one of the conference's four wild cards to the national tournament. Six of his last seven wins have come by way of fall.
Monteiro placed second in the Pac-10 at 197 pounds and is 21-6 overall. His resume boasts a win against No. 4 Joel Flaggert of Oklahoma and he has won 11 of his last 13 heading into the weekend. In 2006, he went 3-2 at nationals.
Letts, ranked No. 11 at 174 pounds and seeded 12th in the tournament, is the first true freshman since Jason Shea in 1990 to represent the Terps at the wrestling championships. He will take on Kenneth Robertson of Eastern Illinois who will take part in his third national championship. Letts owns a record of 26-8 with a team-leading nine major decisions. He earned an automatic berth after winning the ACC title at 174.
Robertson is competing in his third national championship as he won the West Regional at 174 pounds. He pinned his first two opponents and then won by decision in the final. Robertson is 19-6 overall and has won 15 of 17 heading into the weekend.
Terps Ready For NCAA Championships
Maryland, which finished the 2006-07 campaign with the best regular season in school history, will send three wrestlers to the 2007 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships which will be held from March 15-17 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan.
Senior Jason Kiessling, redshirt freshman Hudson Taylor, and freshman Mike Letts will represent Maryland at this year's tournament.
Kiessling and Letts both earned automatic bids to the tournament by winning the ACC Championship at 165 and 174 pounds, respectively. Taylor, who finished second at 197 pounds, earned one of the conference's four wild cards to the championships.
The Terrapins completed its most successful regular season in school history as they went 17-5 and 5-0 in the ACC.
The win total matches the program record established back in 1990.
Maryland's .773 winning percentage is the best ever as it surpassed 1990's mark of .739 (17-6).
The 2007 season also marked the first time since 1974 that the Terps went perfect in the conference and won the regular season dual championship.
Maryland went a perfect 10-0 on the road this season.
Terps At The ACC Championship
Maryland finished in second place with 67.5 points while NC State ran away with the tournament as it compiled 103.5 points.
Senior Jason Kiessling and freshman Mike Letts both earned automatic bids to the NCAA Championships after winning the ACC title at 165 and 174 pounds, respectively. Both wrestlers went 2-0 at the tournament.
Redshirt freshman Hudson Taylor posted two wins by fall to advance to the final at 197 pounds but lost a decision in overtime. He earned one of the conference's four wild cards to nationals.
Sophomore James Knox also finished second at 125 pounds while sophomore Alex Krom and senior Jerry Afari placed third at 141 and heavyweight, respectively.
This is the most wrestlers that Maryland will send to the NCAA Championships since 2001 when four Terrapins competed at the Univeristy of Iowa.
Josh Weidman made his second-straight wild card appearance at the tournament and lost to No. 11 Ben Boozer of Edinboro in the first round.
Brandon York made his third trip to nationals in as many years in College Park and went 2-2 in the tournament.
Jake Stork earned a wild card berth and went 1-2 while Mark Mansueto also competed.
Letts Get It Started
Freshman Mike Letts has done something no true freshman has done in College Park in 17 years.
He is the first true freshman to compete at the NCAA Championships since Jason Shea wrestled at 133 pounds in 1990.
Wrestlers of the Week
Maryland wrestlers earned five ACC Wrestler of the Week nods during the regular season in 11 weeks, earning 45 percent of the bids.
Senior Jason Kiessling was tabbed twice with the award on December 4 and January 15.
Redshirt freshman Hudson Taylor grabbed the final accolade of the season on February 19.
Junior Charlie Pinto and sophomore James Knox were the other two Terps two earn Wrestler of the Week honors.
Perfect In Conference
The Terps had four wrestlers that finished with an unblemished record in the ACC.
Senior Jason Keissling and freshman Mike Letts both went 4-0 in the conference.
Redshirt freshman Hudson Taylor started and won every ACC match this season going 5-0. Three of his team-best 14 falls came in conference duals.
Sophomore Alex Krom, who became a mainstay at 141 for Maryland midseason, went 2-0 in the ACC with his wins coming against Mike Rappo of North Carolina and Matt Rosen of Virginia Tech.
Of the Terps' 10 regular starters, five hail from the state of Maryland and four are from nearby Pennsylvania which borders the Old Line State to the north.
Freshman Jon Kohler lives closest to the University as his hometown of Annapolis, the state's capital, is just 27.4 miles away. Sophomore Alex Krom lives the farthest away as Easton, Pa. is 169.3 miles away from College Park.
The average distance in miles of the 10 starters from College Park is just 88.4 miles.
Quite a Turnaround
Head coach Pat Santoro has put a winning spirit back into the Maryland wrestling program the past two seasons.
After not winning an ACC dual and claiming just seven overall wins in his first two seasons, Santoro has led the Terps to 25 wins in the last two years and a 9-1 mark in the ACC.
Santoro's 17 wins this season was more than he had in his first three seasons all together as he was 15-32-1.
The Terps completed the best regular season in school history in 2006-07 as it went 17-5.
Maryland also had its best finish at the ACC Championship since 1990 when it also placed second.
On a Roll...
Maryland's contingent at nationals are all on impressive winning streaks as of late.
Senior Jason Kiessling has won 13 of 14 matches and 16 of 18 heading into the tournament. His only loss in 2007 came against Mike Cannan of American, an 8-4 setback on February 9.
Freshman Mike Letts has won 13 of 15 matches dating back to the Southern Scuffle.
Redshirt freshman Hudson Taylor has won 15 of 17 dating back to the Scuffle. Six of his last seven wins have come by way of fall.