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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student


Angel Escobedo fights for Olympic spot

NCAA Wrestling

Editor's Note: This week, will be covering IU junior Angel Escobedo’s quest to qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Guest Columnist Jason Quinley, a grad student studying Linguistics at IU, will be near the mat in Las Vegas for the weekend covering the event for the IDS. Before coming to IU, Quinley was the captain of his college wrestling team at the University of Georgia and a high school wrestling coach. Quinley, who follows IU’s wrestling team and knows Escobedo, will be giving up-to-date commentary on Escobedo’s matches.

June 13\nBright lights. Big debts. Glitz and glamour. Poverty and predation.\nNo where do worlds collide anywhere like Vegas: you'll see a desert plain surrounded by mountains, feel the punishing sun while marveling at majestic fountains and ride the city bus with patrons whose combined income might approach that of a lone customer at the Bellagio's baccarat table. Smoke filled bars, buffets overflowing and a million ways to sell your soul for a chance at the big time.\nBut that's not for these men. They are brothers in a violent priesthood. They are the wrestlers and judoka here for the 2008 Olympic trials. They are the boxers, cagefighters, and grapplers. Our own NCAA Wrestling Champion Angel Escobedo hopes to ascend the ranks of this brotherhood and be ordained as our nation's 121-pound representative in Beijing. I talked to him last night, and he's been steadily preparing for this tournament: conditioning his body, refining his technique and preparing his mind. He's travelled to find good training camps and partners to work with, including a stint last week in Arkansas.\nI've also had a chance to train at Xtreme Couture's facility in Vegas, where you'll find the top Mixed Martial Arts program in the country. I had the privilege of seeing an old workout partner who's now a pro-fighter and meeting and watching several UFC, Pride and IFL stars as well as Olympic hopefuls and veterans. Their coaches told me that no one goes to the Strip unless they have to for business reasons. And when you see the amount of conditioning that sports like wrestling and fighting require, you don't ask why.\nBut back to these contrasts, nowhere were they more apparent as on one mat of today's action Lindsey Durlacher announced his retirement by leaving his shoes and the American flag on the mat while in the adjacent bout eventual Greco-Roman Olympian Spencer Mango launched his opponent in spectacular fashion with a reverse gut-lift.\nJust like Angel, Spencer is still a college student and the average age of the Olympians who qualified today is 23. So maybe it's out with old and in with the new. After all, we are in Vegas.

June 11\nDon’t call them “little.” The action you’ll see in the 121 lb.(55 kg) class in the 2008 Olympic Wrestling Trials is anything but. The name of the game is speed and technique, and IU’s Angel Escobedo has the right combination of both to score a major upset this weekend. A 2007 Junior World Team member, Escobedo will face formidable opposition in the Freestyle division from the veteran wrestlers in his class, including hometown favorite Matt Azevedo(the top seed and a Las Vegas native) and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Stephen Abas, along with former World Team members Henry Cejudo and Eric Akin.\nUnlike the collegiate style of wrestling that favors dominance and control, the Olympic styles favor aggression, risk, and explosiveness. Look for explosive takedowns, daring throws and bone-crunching gut wrenches. Escobedo will try to use his proficiency on his feet to take his opponents down and turn them for a pin. Purdue coach Scott Hinkel described Angel as a “slick and technical wrestler with a surprising ability to turn his opponent if he needs to.”\nFreestyle differs from Greco-Roman in that competitors can attack the entire body of their opponent. Freestyle action typically features varied leg attacks as well as the headlocks and throws seen in Greco-Roman(where combatants cannot attack each other’s legs).\nCoverage of the trials will be available on this weekend. Watch Friday for coverage of Angel’s weightclass.

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