This weekend IU will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, to participate in this year’s Big Ten Championships.
Last season, the Hoosiers finished 12th in the Big Ten Championships, and the team looks to improve that mark this season.
The team has had two weeks to prepare for the Big Ten Championships, and each Hoosier is benefiting from the extended time off.
“Really, all up and down our lineup, we don’t have one guy that’s not going to benefit from a little bit smarter training, a little less banging,” IU Coach Duane Goldman said. “Hopefully, we’ll be in the best shape we’ve been in all year for the Big Ten Tournament.”
The two weeks the team has had to prepare has made sophomore Luke Blanton realize how short, but also long, the season has been.
“It’s long and it’s short at the same time,” Blanton said. “I was just talking to somebody and we were like, ‘Dang, it’s been a month since we traveled to Iowa.’ Then again, it seems like just yesterday we started the season and now we’re here at the end of it.”
Blanton, along with two of his teammates, will have an opportunity to advance to the NCAA Championships if he performs well this weekend.
In the last poll to decide the 33 wrestlers from each weight class, Blanton was No. 27. His teammates, freshman Elijah Oliver and junior Nate Jackson, came in at No. 19 and No. 11, respectively.
Knowing how big this weekend is for them individually, the three have been working together in preparation, Jackson said.
“I talk to them every day. If we have to get off a few pounds here and there, we’re doing it together, us three specifically,” Jackson said.
“Everybody’s fighting a different battle. I can only tell them what I can from my limited perspective, and that’s just to keep your head up and keep pushing forward.”
Three Hoosiers were announced as pre-seeds Monday for the Big Ten Championships.
Senior Alonzo Shepherd came away with the No. 13 seed in the 133-pound weight class. Oliver and Jackson find themselves as the No. 5 seed in their respective classes.
With such an important weekend coming for three Hoosiers who are trying to get to the NCAA Championship, Oliver said he has to be selfish at this time of the season.
“I’ve got to do what’s going to better myself,” Oliver said. “I’ve got to stay in that winning mentality. Nothing changes for me, I’ve got to find a way to gut out wins.”