DOVER– Del. Maryland University wrestling is ready to hit the mat for the 2015 season with 15 freshmen, five returning starters and two NCAA qualifiers in the Terps’ second year in the Big Ten.
Geoffrey Alexander will work to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the fourth consecutive year. The 133-pounder is a key returner. Lou Mascola, 157 pounds, is another NCAA qualifier returning.
“This is an exciting year coming up,” Head coach Kerry McCoy said. “We have some good leadership with our seniors. We’re really looking forward to getting it rolling.”
McCoy believes that his top-20 recruiting class will raise the level of competition for the Terrapins in their tough conference season schedule. Here are a few of their top matches in the Big Ten:
Nebraska, Dec. 11
Michigan State, Jan. 10
Wisconsin, Jan. 24
Michigan, Feb 5
Click here for the 2015 full schedule.
Transitioning from the ACC to the Big Ten is a big change, to say the least. The Terps are well-aware that every match will be a battle as they are figuring out where they stand in their sophomore year in the conference.
“It’s the tradition that a lot of these programs bring; years and years of elite wrestling. I think the Big Ten has won the last 14 national championships in wrestling and in the last 20 years probably 16 out of the last 20,” McCoy said. “Big Ten wrestling means success. It’s something outside of the Big Ten we had to fight for a long time.”
Alfred Bannister, mostly known by “Baby J,” is the winningest wrestler in Maryland’s prep history, totaling 37 wins last year. Baby J was the Terrapins top red-shirt last season.
“The great thing about Baby J is having that red-shirt year [is] he beat a ton of guys and had a lot of success, but he’s got a lot of guys in his weight class that are going to push him,” McCoy said.”
While Baby J may be far ahead of his peers, McCoy believes Billy Rappo, a fourth year, and West Virginia transfer Ryan Diehl will push him to get better.
McCoy’s theory is simple. Be better than last year. The Terps struggled in 2014 season finishing 5-15 and 0-9 in the Big Ten.
“We have starters returning from last year and in theory they should be better,” McCoy said. “We’ve got some young hungry freshmen in to push those guys and they are going to help us get better.”
The Terrapins Wisconsin match on Jan. 24 will be broadcast nationally on the Big Ten Network.