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Wednesday, Nov. 29
The Indiana Daily Student

sports wrestling

Two-time wrestling champ Dubuque mentors Escobedo

Angel Escobedo

When Angel Escobedo was a redshirt freshman, he watched Joe Dubuque win the second of his back-to-back National Championships at 125 pounds.  

Dubuque might not have realized it, but he was setting the bar for Escobedo’s future with IU wrestling.

Dubuque had led by example and fueled Escobedo to leave a legacy similar to his own, ending at the top of the podium. Although he physically dominated opponents, Dubuque’s mental approach left a lasting impression on Escobedo.

“I learned from him that you have to have that confidence that no matter what happens, you always have to believe you’re the best,” Escobedo said. “It was definitely hard to follow in a national champion’s footsteps, but it’s what made me work even harder.”

Just four years earlier, Escobedo was watching Dubuque win national championships. Now the man that paved the way will coach Escobedo in his pursuit of a second national championship.

So far, Dubuque’s advice has paid dividends for Escobedo. As the reigning Big Ten Wrestler of the Week, Escobedo has knocked down all in his path this season. An undefeated 12-0 start and a No. 2 national ranking make Escobedo one of the early favorites to win it all in March at the NCAA Championships in Omaha, Neb.

“Both of them have handled it really well and I believe it has to do with that winning attitude that both of them have,” said IU coach Duane Goldman. “Joe wants Angel to win and Angel knows that Joe can help him do that.”

While some star athletes do not respond well to coaching, Escobedo has thrived on having Dubuque there for each step of the way this season.

“He knows what it takes to be on top and stay on top,” Escobedo said. “I just try to pick his brain every day.”

After Dubuque graduated from IU, he spent three years as an assistant coach at Hofstra. Dubuque had an opportunity to be around the sport that set him apart from the rest, but he wanted a chance to come back to where it all began. That’s when Goldman came calling to offer Dubuque a job on the IU coaching staff.

“Getting the opportunity to come back to my alma mater to coach with (Goldman and assistant Pat DeGain) and getting back in the Big Ten to coach was huge for me,” Dubuque said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”

Dubuque’s winning attitude is likely what has driven his coaching style. But Dubuque admits that there are some adjustments between being on the mat and working from the sidelines.

“When I first started coaching, I would let the first match affect the next one if it didn’t go well,” Dubuque said. “I learned that a coach needs to be composed because when you lose your composure, the wrestler sees that and they get rattled.”

IU’s No. 13 national ranking shows the Hoosiers have responded well to the entire coaching staff this season. Dubuque said coaching wrestlers like Escobedo has made his first season at IU a lot easier.

“It doesn’t take much to help Angel accomplish his goals,” Dubuque said. “I just try to keep him on track and focused.”  

Dubuque and the rest of the Hoosiers know how long of a season IU is in for. While a national championship is the ultimate goal, the only thing they can focus on right now is the F.I.T.E. Duals at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Oak Lawn, Ill.  

The Hoosiers will take on Eastern Michigan and SIU-Edwardsville in one of their final tune-ups for the Big Ten season.  

With Dubuque and Escobedo working together, IU will attempt to bring nightmares to the rest of the Big Ten.

Four years ago, Escobedo was the redshirt freshman trying to dissect everything he could from his predecessor, Dubuque.

While Escobedo has proven himself nationally during Dubuque’s absence from IU, he is still determined to learn everything he can from his new assistant coach.

A national title is the only way both of them imagine Escobedo’s career ending at IU.

“He has that confidence that he can win and dominate every match,” Dubuque said of Escobedo. “My main goal is to get Angel on top of that podium in March.”

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