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Tuesday, Feb. 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports wrestling

Grapplers to wrestle in NCAAs


Last season, junior Matt Powless got his first taste of the NCAA wrestling tournament.

This year he returns to the tournament familiar with the atmosphere and with a more
ambitious goal.

“Last year I made it to nationals, and that was my goal,” Powless said. “Once I did, I don’t want to say I didn’t care, but I was definitely happy already with my season. I went out there and wrestled, but I don’t think I fully committed myself the way I should have to winning those matches. I was already happy with myself. Going there this year with it not being a surprise but an expectation has me a little more driven.”

IU will send four wrestlers to Philadelphia for the NCAA Championships on March 17-19. Joining Powless, who wrestles in the 197-pound weight class, are seniors Kurt Kinser at 149 pounds and Paul Young at 157 pounds and graduate student Ricky Alcala at heavyweight.

“Every one of these guys has been to nationals before,” IU coach Duane Goldman said. “They have an idea of what they’re stepping into. They just need to go in there and be confident and not look ahead. It’s a tough tournament.”

While each of the IU qualifiers has been to the tournament before, last year Kinser and Young each qualified for different weight classes, 157 pounds and 165 pounds, respectively. Alcala wrestled for a different school, California-Davis.

Kinser, Young and Powless clinched their berths in the Big Ten Tournament last weekend. Alcala suffered a pair of upset losses and ultimately placed seventh, not high enough for an automatic qualifier spot. However, when wildcards were announced Wednesday, Alcala made the field.

“Ricky had a little bit of a tough go,” Goldman said. “He appears to be back on track. He wrestled really well in his last match. We were pretty sure that he was going to get picked up (as a wildcard).”

Released along with the wildcard selections were the brackets for the tournament revealing both the seeds at each weight class and first-round matchups. Kinser will wrestle Missouri’s Kyle Bradley, who he has defeated this season, in the opening round. Young will face Pittsburgh’s Donnie Tasser while Powless will meet LJ Helbig of Wyoming. Alcala will wrestle Spencer Myers of Maryland.

“I’m pretty familiar with all their opponents,” Goldman said. “I think for the most part we avoided some seeds. I think they all have good first-round matchups, ones they all have good shots of winning. They’re feeling good.”

Practices leading up to nationals will largely be geared toward preparing for first-round opponents, as the wrestlers have control over little else, a lesson Powless has learned both from IU’s All-American coaches and his own experience last year.

“You always want to say you’re taking it one match at a time, but in the back of their head, everyone is thinking, ‘If I win this match I have so-and-so, if I lose I have so-and-so,’” Powless said. “I did that last year. I lost on the first round, and then in the wrestlebacks I didn’t get who I thought I would get because there was another upset, so I ended up wrestling someone and things didn’t work out for me. This year I’m definitely going to take it one match at a time and only worry about that first match.”

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