Before last season, the two-time reigning conference champion Terrapins wrestling team knew it would host the 2012-13 ACC Championships at Comcast Center, and the Terps appeared primed to end the season celebrating in their home venue.
But 285-pound Spencer Myers, who earned All-American status as a freshman, tore his LCL in the preseason, forcing him to miss team competition. With the heavyweight gone, the Terps fell from their No. 15 preseason ranking out of the top 25 and finished third in the ACC tournament.
This season, the Terps aim to avenge those missteps and regain the conference crown.
“Finished third in our conference in our home gym — that’s not what we wanted to do,” coach Kerry McCoy said. “We’ve got to go out there, and every game we have an opportunity to be better and make our performance better than it was the last time out.”
The No. 25 Terps will look for a healthy Myers to anchor them. The Selinsgrove, Pa., native won two straight heavyweight ACC titles before last season.
Christian Boley, 197 pounds, and 184-pound Jimmy Sheptock will look to carry the Terps in the next two highest weight classes. With Myers, Boley and Sheptock all healthy, the Terps cruised to wins over Johns Hopkins, Kutztown and Alderson-Broaddus in the Terrapin Duals to open the season Sunday.
“That’s kind of the perfect storm,” McCoy said. “We recruited these guys four or five years ago. We expected that they’d all come together and put a good team together and be able to make some noise. We’re excited that they’re going to come out. … Having guys like that that are battle-tested and know what it takes is really important.”
The Terps will also have high scorers in the lower divisions. Geoffrey Alexander, 133 pounds, will serve as a captain along with Sheptock and Boley, and hopes to build on his stellar showings in the ACC tournament in each of the past two seasons. He finished second his freshman year and fifth his sophomore year.
Two newcomers also will help the Terps in their quest to respond to a disappointing season. Tyler Goodwin, 125 pounds, scored two victories by pin at Sunday’s meet, and 141-pound Shyheim Brown defeated Johns Hopkins’ Duncan Crystal by technical fall Sunday in his first college team match before winning his next two matches.
“He does a lot of the right things,” Boley said. “He stays active. He puts in extra work.”
Boley and Sheptock are coming off their first seasons in which the Terps didn’t capture an ACC title, so the duo is ensuring that younger wrestlers understand the expectations. Sheptock even occasionally keeps underclassmen after practice to run if they make mistakes.
“I don’t want them to get in trouble,” Sheptock said. “I want to show them how it’s done before Coach has to.”
When the Terps travel from College Park to Blacksburg, Va., on March 8 for the conference tournament, they won’t have the advantage of wrestling on their home court, but they fully intend to come back down Route 1 with the championship hardware in hand with last season’s sour ending behind them.
“We like to focus on where we’re going — not where we’ve been,” Boley said. “It was a disappointment. We use it as motivation. But we have a better team this year. We’re focused — it’s our last year in the ACC. There’s a lot of different variables and factors that are pushing us to get this ring.”