The 2011-12 Terrapins in Review
June 11, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The 2011-12 Maryland wrestling team returned three NCAA qualifiers including two All-Americans. Understandably, expectations within the program and among national observers were high as the Terps began the year tied for No. 11 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association/USA Today Coaches Poll and were seen as the favorite to win a second consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference crown.
To the delight of Terrapin fans, the squad did not disappoint. The Terps went 15-1 in dual action to record the highest winning percentage in program history (.938), won their second consecutive ACC title and fourth in five years, and sent seven wrestlers to the NCAA Championships -- the most since 1990.
"What stands out the most about this season is how well this team gelled," said head coach Kerry McCoy. "There were bumps along the road, but ultimately everybody was committed to be a part of this team. That was the most exciting thing about this season. It was how we were able to have success.
"We had a good core of guys. We had a lot of good things happen with eight graduating seniors who all contributed in different ways to the program."
For the second consecutive season, the Terps opened their campaign at home with the Terrapin Duals and welcomed Bloomsburg, Franklin & Marshall and Johns Hopkins to Comcast Center. The Terps cruised to three wins on the day and won 27 of 30 matches over the three contests.
The following weekend the Terps traveled to Brockport, N.Y., for the Brockport/Oklahoma Gold Invitational. Josh Asper won most outstanding wrestler honors and seven different Terps placed in the top 3 of their respective weight classes as Maryland finished second with 174.5 points. Asper and Christian Boley won individual titles at 165 and 197 pounds, respectively. Shane Gentry (125), Kyle John (157) and Jimmy Sheptock (174) each finished second, while Geoffrey Alexander (133) and Spencer Myers (285) each placed third.
Maryland's next set of dual meets brought it back to upstate New York for the Northeast Duals to take on Bucknell, Central Michigan and Northern Iowa. The Terps won 25 of 30 matches to pick up three victories and go undefeated at the event for the first time in program history.
After returning from the Northeast Duals, the Terps battled local rival American. Boley provided the highlight of the meet with an upset of then-No. 8 Daniel Mitchell to propel Maryland to its sixth straight victory over the Eagles and improve the Terps' record to 7-0.
Maryland concluded its 2011 dual-meet slate with a 21-15 win over Penn on Dec. 11.
Following their victory over the Quakers, the Terps headed to Northwestern University for the prestigious Midlands Championships to close the year. After a difficult first day, the Terrapins responded behind Boley on day two. The native of Brockport, N.Y., won four matches on the second day to grab the bronze medal at 197 pounds. Myers took sixth place at 285 and Sheptock finished seventh at 174 to move the squad up the standings and into ninth place.
The Terps kicked off the New Year with a pair of dual-meet victories including their first conference win of the season. Maryland earned wins at Virginia Tech and West Virginia to run its record to 10-0.
After a week off, the Terps traveled to in-state rival Navy and won 6 of 10 matches to defeat the Midshipmen. The Terrapins closed the weekend with its second ACC victory of the season against NC State.
The Terps' final regular season weekend trip took them to Chapel Hill, N.C., and Charlottesville, Va. The squad opened with a 25-10 thumping of the Tar Heels. In the first match of the evening, Myers returned from injury to wrestle for the first time since the Midlands Invitational and pinned UNC's Frank Abbondanza 1:34 into the match.
Unfortunately for the team, the road trip ended with the Terrapins first and only loss of the season. Virginia got off to a quick start by winning the first five matches of the afternoon and Maryland was unable to recover as the Cavaliers won 22-14.
Maryland's final two dual meets of the season came at home against Duke and at George Mason. Against the Blue Devils on Senior Day, John, Joey Boone, Owen Smith and Ryan Gray all won their final matches at Comcast Pavilion to lead Maryland to the win. In Fairfax, the Terps dominated the Patriots and earned a 30-10 victory to set the stage for the ACC Championships.
The Terps entered the tournament with four No. 1 seeds in the 10 weight classes, which tied for the most in the conference with Virginia. All four top-seeded wrestlers along with three other Terrapins pushed through to the finals to give Maryland a league-high seven grapplers in the championship round.
After the dust settled at Carmichael Arena, John captured his first-ever conference title at 157 pounds, Boley (197) and Sheptock (174) won in their first appearances at the tournament, and Myers won his second consecutive ACC title at 285 pounds to lead the Terps to their second ACC championship in a row and to edge out second-place Virginia. Asper (165), freshman Geoffrey Alexander (133) and sophomore Shane Gentry (125) took home runner-up honors.
The NCAA tournament selection committee rewarded Maryland for its successful season with seven bids to the championships in St. Louis, which was the most since 1990. The bids were awarded to the Terps' seven ACC finalists with Boley earning a No. 4 seed at 197, Asper earning a No. 7 seed at 165, Myers earning a No. 8 seed at 285 and Sheptock earning a No. 12 seed at 174.
Despite seven entrants and four seeded wrestlers, Asper was the only Terp to advance to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, Asper defeated second-seeded Shane Onufer of Wyoming to clinch All-America status for a second consecutive year.
Sheptock fell just short of earning All-America status. After dropping a second-round match to fifth-seeded Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa, Sheptock earned a 3-1 sudden-victory decision over Turtogtokh Luvsandorj of The Citadel to advance in the wrestlebacks. Needing one win to secure All-America status, Sheptock lost a 5-1 decision to sixth-seeded Ryan DesRoches of Cal Poly.
Maryland finished the NCAA tournament with 15.5 points and in 31st place.
"Just five years ago, Maryland had not been in the top 30 at the NCAA tournament in 11 years," said McCoy. "In just four or five years how our expectations can go from there to where finishing in the top 30 with one All-American is disappointing shows the progress we are making.
"As a staff, we knew the guys were ready, and they knew they were ready. But there was a little disconnect between being ready and going out and doing it. We had seven guys qualify for the tournament, but four of those seven guys were first timers with a freshman (Alexander), a sophomore (Gentry) and two redshirt sophomores (Boley, Sheptock). I think the lack of experience on that stage played a role. The guys were ready for it, but they didn't go out and get it."
While the squad's performance in St. Louis did not meet its expectations, postseason accolades did not elude McCoy and the Terps. McCoy was voted the ACC Coach of the Year for the second straight season and third time in the past four, and Maryland's seven ACC finalists all earned All-ACC honors. For his excellence in the classroom and on the mat, John was named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division I Individual All-Academic team, and the All-ACC Academic team.
Unlike 2011 when the Terps lost several key contributors, the cupboard is full for the Terps heading into next season. The squad returns 9 of 10 starters including six of the team's seven ACC finalists and NCAA tournament participants.
"We have the potential to be much better next season than we were this season," said McCoy. "We have every one of our starters back except for one. There are some questions, but come the start of the season we should have at least five serious contenders to be All-Americans. Without a doubt, we will be better than we were this year."