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Terps wrestling looking for breakout in Big Ten


Whether the Maryland wrestling team is ready to compete among the powerhouses in the Big Ten as they enter just their third season in the conference is of least concern for head coach Kerry McCoy. He wants his team to have a “National Championship mentality” and wants them to make their goal to be to get better every day. The results will take care of themselves as long as the Terps just focus on improving.

Each and every year the Terps are improving because of the program’s move the Big Ten. That’s where the best wrestlers in the country go; no question, few exceptions. The move has attracted more top recruits to College Park and as they are starting to become more seasoned veterans with Big Ten matched under their belt, the level of the Terps wrestling team is only going to rise.

At wrestling media day McCoy discussed the upcoming season and what his expectations are for this year’s squad.

Head wrestling coach Kerry McCoy on…

Returning freshmen that contributed last season:

“The freshmen we had competing last season were hungry and excited to come in and help the team. So last year may have been a bit of an experience for them to go out and see how it goes, but now with that experience they have higher expectations. They don’t want to come in and just be along for the ride. They want to get in there and place in the conference, win Big Ten Titles, become All-Americans and fight for National Championships. So, it’s good. The biggest thing also for those younger guys competing is having that influence on the other guys who redshirted last year. Knowing what they went through they can share that experience with other guys this year and really set an example.”

Improving in the Big Ten:

“The biggest thing I’ve seen in the last six months with our team is the level of expectations and acceptance has gotten higher. The goals the guys are talking about individually, the goals the guys are talking about as a team and the things they are going to accept as being members of the team are at a higher level. That’s the start, from there it’s putting the work in, believe in the work you’re putting in, and going out there compete at a high level. Obviously when the whistle blows you have to go out there and wrestle the matches, but right now we have a better foundation which is going to push us to better results.”

Alfred Bannister had established himself as one of the best defensive wrestlers around as he has yet to surrender a bonus point defeat in his career.

Alfred Bannister had established himself as one of the best defensive wrestlers around as he has yet to surrender a bonus point defeat in his career.

Goals and expectations for this year:

“The simple thing is we want to get better. We want to get better every day. We have our team mission statement as, ‘Better than I was yesterday, but not as good as I’m going to be tomorrow.’ And that’s the deal; we want to get better every day in every aspect. We talk about our core values, we talk about making sure our team is accountable, making sure we’re communicating, having pride…those are the things that we focus on every day. So our goals are to be the best team we can be, to put in a National Championship effort every day. So, the National Championship isn’t going to be decided until March. But everything we do from now is going to help us get to that goal. Someone is going to win it. The goal is to pursue that National Championship everyday with 100% commitment and 100% energy.”

Bringing back former Terp wrestler Jimmy Sheptock as an assistant coach:

“One the best things as a coach is having one of your former athletes being able to come back and coach with you, it’s an awesome experience. Knowing that you’ve had somebody who’s gone through the process, gone through everything and believes in the system and come back and reinforce that is a great thing. Jimmy brings a lot…He’s in the room working with the guys, he’s hitting the recruiting trail hard, he’s really bringing a high level. The most exciting thing about having him back is that he truly cares about this University and this program. He had an opportunity to go to a lot of different schools out of high school, but he chose to come to Maryland…he wants us to be the best, and that’s what really he brings.”

On 141-pounder Alfred Bannister, who is one of the best defensive wrestlers on the squad and has yet to surrender a bonus point defeat in his career:

“It’s a good situation when you have two or three guys at certain weight classes who can start. Baby J’s biggest challenge last year was really believing in all of the things necessary to be successful…His talent level was able to get him so far, but as he continues to progress and believes in the commitment to hard work all the time and managing your weight the right way, that’s going to pay off in dividends. Billy’s done a great job from top to bottom. He’s had a couple hiccups here and there and things that held him back from reaching his full potential, but now as a fifth-year senior he’s all in. He was here all summer training, pushing not only himself to be better but for the team to get better.”

On heavyweight Youssif Hemida, who shined at the United World Wrestling Nationals and University Freestyle National this spring and summer, earning All-American honors in both tournaments:

“For Youssif to be able to go out there and compete against the level of competition he faced in freestyle was big. Getting your hand raised no matter what style is important. The freestyle offseason success was good, but really for him the level of commitment that he made throughout the spring and summer was key. Being here training all spring and summer, getting to compete in those different events, and going out to compete in the world team trials was a great experience for him. Obviously being a hands on guy for me, he was able to work on a lot. But he was doing the things you need to get better. And when you have that attitude to leave no stone unturned, a lot of things work in your way.”

On 133-pounder Tyler Goodwin, who returns as one of the squad’s most experienced wrestlers:

“Tyler is the poster child for our team with the culture shift and change in expectations. He’s one of the more influential guys on our team, so as he sets his mind and sets his path that’s where a lot of the guys on the team will follow. We want him to strive to be a National Champion and have that level of commitment. If he has his mind in the right position, he can beat anybody in the country. That’s what we want to get him focused on. As a wrestler, he’s very aggressive. He’s funky, he can wrestle from a lot of different positions; he has a great feel for wrestling. He’s good on top, he’s hard to take down, I think those are the things, combined with a technical focus, that will put him in a position to really hammer out some tough wins.”

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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