For the first time in program history, IU will compete in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Dual Series when IU wrestles the Southern Conference champions, Appalachian State.
This is the last dual match before the Big Ten Championships, and IU Coach Duane Goldman said he feels honored to participate.
“It’s justified on the body of work throughout the whole year, not just the last few weeks,” Goldman said. “We’re deserving to be in it, we’re honored to be in it and hopefully we compete well.”
Despite the fact the team is not in the Big Ten, Goldman said Appalachian State is not a team to take lightly.
He said there is nothing easy about this match because they are still conference champions.
Even though Appalachian State is not a team the Hoosiers see often, sophomore Luke Blanton doesn’t spend extra time studying film.
“I just watch one or two matches, it doesn’t really matter what they are doing,” Blanton said. “It’s more of a heads up to see what they might do. Mostly, I keep working on what I do well and continue perfecting it.”
After the match, the Hoosiers will have less than two weeks before the Big Ten Championships.
Blanton said the two weeks off will be all about working on technique. He continued, saying it will be a opportunity to get extra time in the room to help get a little better each day.
Blanton is on the cusp of reaching the NCAA Championships. He is currently No. 27 in his weight class, and the top 33 wrestlers go from each class, so he can’t fall too far in the rankings.
To help his chances of reaching the biggest stage of collegiate wrestling, Blanton said he is going to put everything he has into practices and preparations to help complete his goal of wrestling at the NCAAs.
A big factor in whether or not Blanton reaches nationals is simply based on which version of him shows up the next couple weeks.
“It’s whichever Luke shows up,” Goldman said. “I hope he relaxes, goes out there and is himself. I hope he lets the chips fly because that’s when he is best. That’s what he’s going to have to do throughout the rest of this season to get to nationals.”
For now, Blanton and the Hoosiers will focus on getting one more win, individually and as a team, against Appalachian State before focusing their attention on the Big Ten Championships.
“Even though the Big Ten dual season took its toll on us, it’s going to be nice to wrestle somebody else not in the Big Ten that hasn’t been through the grind that we have and hopefully kick their ass,” Blanton said.
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