With the regular season winding down, the Maryland wrestling team is rounding into form.
Maryland wrestling continues to thrive under fifth-year coach Kerry McCoy, whose team is surging as the post-season draws closer.
Kerry McCoy’s squad has won six of its past nine dual meets, including a Tobacco Road sweep of Duke and N.C. State last weekend. The Terps (12-7), whose only three losses during that span came by a total of seven points, have been tested often this season by a schedule including five teams ranked in the top 15 nationally.
“Our schedule is definitely a lot tougher than year’s past. I scheduled it that way to get us ready for the ACC and NCAA tournaments,” McCoy said. “We’ve still got work to do.”
He believes Maryland’s move to the wrestling-oriented Big 10 in 2014 will only advance his efforts to build a national power.
“I’m really excited. It’s definitely a huge step up for our program to be in that league. The Big 10 is a reason that some wrestlers choose those schools over us. That won’t be an excuse for them anymore,” said McCoy, who signed a five-year contract extension last summer.
The individual gem of McCoy’s tenure at Maryland is clearly Hudson Taylor, who finished fourth in the NCAA two years ago, two wins short of becoming the school’s first national champion since the 1960s. While there may be no one of Taylor’s stature on this year squad, McCoy’s got another talented roster, led by junior Jimmy Sheptock and senior Jimmy Asper.
After going 27-6 and winning an ACC title last year at 174 pounds, Sheptock moved up to 184 to accommodate Asper’s move to 174. He’s posted a team-best 30-3 record, including a perfect 17-0 mark in dual meets and is ranked No. 7 in the country by InterMat. Two-time all-American Asper (12-1), a Parkton, Md., native and Hereford High alum, has missed time due to injury but is ranked fifth nationally.
“It’s pretty exciting that one of our most successful guys is a Maryland guy,” McCoy said. “Wrestling in the state of Maryland is pretty good. Right now, there’s a couple of top-ranked recruits nationally.”
Terps junior Ben Dorsay is 26-11 at 157 pounds, while freshmen Shyheim Brown (28-8) and Derrick Evanovich (25-16) have made immediate impacts. Junior 125-pounder and team captain Shane Gentry, who. McCoy calls Maryland’s ‘spark,’ is 15-8.
Sheptock's change in weight class has given the Terps a powerful punch at 174 and 184 pounds.
While he’s got a full season-plus before his team moves, McCoy’s looking forward to the opportunity that awaits in the power-packed Big 10. A former Olympian and two-time champion at Penn State who won 131 of his final 132 college matches, he's been trying to schedule the Nittany Lions for several years with no luck. While Maryland may be known as a hotbed for basketball and football, but he’s noticed a steadily increase in support; 200 people attended the fall banquet and big matches have begun to draw a few thousand spectators.
Since he arrived from Stanford, McCoy’s guided the Terps to three ACC tournament titles in his four years, highlighted by a 15-1 dual-meet record last year. While the three-time ACC coach of the year is pleased with the program’s success, he’s got loftier aspirations.
“The reason I came here is to win a national championship. That’s our goal,” he said. “Every day I wake up with that mindset. That’s my motivation.”