IU Coach Duane Goldman wanted his IU wrestling team to answer the bell and respond after a disappointing loss against Cal Poly, and it did just that.
The Hoosiers took eight of 10 matches against the George Mason Patriots en route to a 35-6 win on the road Thursday.
“More than the win, I think the attitude definitely showed,” Goldman said. “I think they went into the match more excited and upbeat.”
IU couldn’t have started more soundly, securing two pins from Elijah Oliver and freshman Garrett Pepple to jump out to an early 12-0 lead.
“It’s a huge thing any time you can start with a good lead and let the other guys loosen up,” Goldman said. “On the other side, you have to beware of complacency on some of the guys. You can get back in the same trap of everyone else doing their job and they forget they have to still hold up their end of the bargain. I thought we did a good job today of everybody else holding up their end of the bargain.”
Team leader senior Nate Jackson continued his hot start to the season as the All-American got his third win and third pin in as many matches on the season.
Additionally, three freshmen took the mat for IU, and all three came away with wins. In addition to Pepple, Devin Skatzka won 6-3 and Norman Conley got his first varsity win with a score of 20-7.
The Hoosiers will now take this win and a 2-1 record into their first tournament of the season at the Navy Classic on Saturday.
The Classic is one of just two tournaments the Hoosiers will compete in before the Big Ten Championships and nationals, a difference from last season.
Last season, IU competed in five tournaments and 13 duals before the postseason. This season, however, the Hoosiers will compete in just two tournaments along with 18 duals.
Junior Luke Blanton is eager to get on the mat in tournament play so he and the team can better prepare themselves for the postseason.
“This upcoming weekend is important because we don’t wrestle duals at nationals or Big Tens,” Blanton said. “So, we have to be able to take these two times in tournament play to learn from them and better ourselves for similar situations at Nationals and Big Tens.”
Goldman said he expects the wrestlers to compete well across the board, from all teams, making the tournament interesting for everyone participating.
These regular season tournaments bring the Hoosiers an opportunity to see teams they won’t see for the rest of the regular season, and Goldman expects his team to compete well against unfamiliar competition.
“With the tournament, it’s a good chance to see a lot of teams we won’t see through the rest of the year,” Goldman said. “We as a coaching staff have an expectation that we are going to compete well.”