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Wednesday, Feb. 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports wrestling

Hoosier grapplers look to end Big Ten Tournament woes this weekend in Ill.

Half of the IU wrestling lineup will step on the mat Saturday knowing that any match could be their last.

For seniors Kurt Kinser, Paul Young, Nick Avery, Eric Cameron and graduate student Ricky Alcala, this weekend’s Big Ten Championships in Evanston, Ill., are a must-win situation if they hope to prolong their careers a few more weeks.

“There’s nothing else after this unless you earn it,” IU coach Duane Goldman said. “It’s every man for himself. They need to go up there with their individual goals and do everything they can to achieve them. There’s nothing to hold back from. There’s nothing to pace themselves with. It’s all about going up there and trying to get it done.”

With the exception of Alcala, who is in his first season in the Big Ten, all of the seniors have competed in the conference tournament at least once before and know what to expect and how to either ignore the reality that it is their last time there or harness it to their advantage.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Kinser said. “On one hand, you’re a senior. You’re confident. You’ve done it all before, so you sort of know what’s going to happen. On the other hand, it’s your last chance. For me, it’s given me a little bit of extra motivation.”

In preparation for the tournament, the team’s training has been modified the past two weeks.

“Practices are probably more intense, but shorter and less focused on learning and more focused on peaking and doing what each individual does best and trying to get each guy on an individual basis ready,” Goldman said.

The shorter practices have allowed wrestlers to rest the nagging injuries accumulated throughout the season, as well as refocus their technique and mentality.

“Everybody just tries to peak skill-wise, conditioning-wise, mentally-wise,” Kinser said. “I feel really good. I feel like I’ve definitely been building up this year. Hopefully I’ll be at my best at Big Tens. Being a senior, too, that gives you just a little bit more motivation. I feel like I’m definitely ready.”

While dual meets and other tournaments throughout the year certainly impact seeding and wildcard slots for the national tournament, ultimately it is a wrestler’s performance at the conference tournament that typically determines if his season continues. As such, preparing for the Big Ten Championships has been a team focus throughout the entire season.

“I think I’m very ready,” Cameron said. “Our head coach does a great job getting us in shape all year. Our past four months of training all come down to this weekend and how we do.”

Goldman said he believes the shorter practices have worked and the team is where it should be at this point in the season.

“We’re as ready as we’re going to be,” Goldman said. “You can’t do anything about certain little nagging injuries. Our preparation has been good, and we’ve taken the time to heal as best we can. We’re in good shape. Our attitude is good. I think it’s just a question of going up there and doing the best we can and seeing where the chips fall.”

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