Sophomore Luke Blanton and the IU wrestling team have four matches left before the Big Ten Tournament in Iowa. Two matches are against ranked opponents this weekend.
Despite the grueling schedule, Blanton said he is trying to keep moving forward after his win against No. 11 Hunter Stieber of Ohio State last weekend.
“I just have to try to keep the momentum going,” Blanton said. “This Big Ten season is rough. You’re wrestling the top guys in the nation every single weekend. I just have to keep doing what I have to do to be successful.”
After not wrestling like himself for a period of time, Blanton said he is glad to be back wrestling like himself again.
He said getting back to the things he is good at has helped propel him to his current form, and finally getting the success feels good.
The team as a whole will look to pick up momentum as it approaches the Big Ten Tournament.
The team’s youth has played a big part in the IU’s success this year, and IU Coach Duane Goldman said he wants it to push hard down the home stretch of the regular season.
“I don’t want to see them let up,” Goldman said. “With some of our youth, I want these guys to continue to look at the big picture and see it through.”
It’s imperative the team battles hard and fights for wins to improve its seeding for the Big Ten Tournament, Goldman said. Once the regular season ends, the team will have time to recuperate and get healthy again before the post season begins.
IU travels to No. 2 Iowa on Friday before playing host to No. 24 Purdue on Sunday, and Goldman said he knows what a challenge wrestling at Iowa is.
“It’s a great venue, it’s a great crowd, and they understand wrestling,” Goldman said. “They really cheer for their guys and push their guys. They’re going to push the pace on us, so it’s going to be a real challenge.”
Despite continually wrestling some of the top teams in the nation, Blanton looks at those matches no differently.
He said it is not about what they are doing, but it’s more about working on what he is capable of on the mat.
Come Sunday, Blanton said he is looking to overcome a loss from last season against Purdue. He lost a close match, but had fun wrestling in the rivalry, he said. He has never been a big fan of Purdue, just like they aren’t fans of IU, and that it’s always big to be a part of the rivalry matches, he said.
Purdue has had the upper hand the last few years, with IU’s last win in 2010.
Goldman said Purdue is always a big match and it has a senior-dominated team this year. He said he wants to see how the team handles it and hopes it performs well.
Despite how young the Hoosiers are, Goldman said he never doubts their efforts on the mat.
“We aren’t experienced as some of these guys,” Goldman said. “I’m anxious for them every time they take the mat because I know they’re going to give their best, and we’ll see where that gets them.”
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