The wrestling team opened its season this weekend at the Eastern Michigan University Open and finished with six podium finishes, including three freshman places in the top three.
The team had not participated in the tournament since the 2011-12 season, when Matt Powless took the title in the 197-pound weight class.
Still, there were many podium performances from veterans and freshmen Saturday.
“I thought we had some bright spots,” IU Coach Duane Goldman said. “We had a lot of freshmen in there compete well.”
Freshman Elijah Oliver placed second in his 125-pound weight class, which included three major decisions and a 5-2 loss in the championship match to Noah Gonser of Eastern Michigan.
Fellow freshman Devin Skatzka also placed second in his weight class. His day included two pins before dropping the finals match to Michigan wrestler Logan Massa.
IU Coach Duane Goldman said he believes Oliver and Skatzka competed hard and were impressive in their first collegiate matches. He said he also believes they showed a lot of promise and there are still improvements to make for the freshmen.
Norman Conley, a freshman walk-on, came away with third in the 174-pound weight class. Conley had four wins to one loss on the day, as he won decisions 3-2, 11-6 and 4-2. Conley lost his semifinal match to the champion of that weight class, Myles Martin of Ohio State, before winning the third place match.
Goldman said Conley was a bright spot from the tournament and a bit of a surprise. Goldman also said he was impressed with Conley, who he said wrestled really well throughout the entire tournament.
Sophomore Cole Weaver and senior Garret Goldman finished seventh in their weight classes. Both wrestlers won their first two matches before dropping their quarterfinals match, but both went on to win two more matches to secure seventh place.
“Cole wrestled well. I think there were some things we need to work on with him technically,” Goldman said. “The effort was there, the attitude was good — just some technical things we need to clean up.”
Rounding out the podium finishers, junior Nate Jackson — coming off a sophomore season in which he competed in the NCAAs — placed second in the 174-pound weight class.
Jackson won in dominating fashion with 7-0, 15-7, 11-4 decisions and a pin in the semifinals before advancing to the finals. Jackson lost a tough battle to Ohio State’s Myles Martin 7-5.
Goldman said Jackson was impressive and wrestled well all day. He didn’t finish the way he wanted, but it’s only one tournament and the first weekend among many more.
With one tournament down, there are many to go and Goldman said he liked what he saw overall.
“Today gave us something to build on and things to think about as we try to shape our team a little bit,” Goldman said. “It gave us some things to work with.”