The 2015-16 season brought some success for the IU wrestling team, something that was hard to come by in years prior.
The Hoosiers won three Big Ten dual meets last season, leading to their best Big Ten record since 2009, and will look to build off that this year. It all starts Thursday when the team travels to California to take on San Francisco State and Cal Poly in a double dual meet.
The double dual will have its fair share of youth, as combined the three squads have 41 freshmen and just 14 seniors. Cal Poly enters the meet off a 3-15 record in dual meets last season, while San Francisco State, a Division II team, finished as IU did with a 6-7 mark.
Regardless of how young the Hoosiers are, there’s a sense of added experience in the locker room.
IU sophomore Elijah Oliver said the experience last year’s freshmen gained will serve them well this season. Those former freshmen learned from watching the team compete in other matches, IU Coach Duane Goldman said, which should give them added confidence to compete at a high level right out of the gate.
With that comes larger goals this season, both for the team as a whole and its individuals.
“I think we did have some success last year in the Big Ten Duals,” Goldman said. “Those were hard wins to get. So, I think there is better expectation this year for a lot of these guys.”
IU’s depth will be a significant help as the Hoosiers attempt to achieve that goal.
Goldman said it helps each member of the team continue to compete hard for their spot, and better themselves in the practice room every day.
Last season, Oliver was the only wrestler at 125 pounds, and with that he was unable to get a lot of different looks in practice. The ability to get different looks this season is something Oliver said he hopes to take advantage of throughout the season.
“It’s a lot to be thankful for because they give me a different feel that I will be experiencing this season,” Oliver said. “It’s a big variety and keeps everything open.”
Oliver’s brotherly figure and the leader of the Hoosiers, senior Nate Jackson, will start the season No. 4 in the nation for the 174-pound weight class.
After earning All-American honors last season, Jackson said he is looking for more in his senior season and is focusing on himself so he can put himself so he can be in the best position possible to achieve his goal — a National Champion.
Despite focusing on himself, Jackson has always tried to be a leader by example, and that’s something he plans to do again this season as the young Hoosiers emerge.
“You’re going to see a lot of fire this year,” Jackson said. “We are going to have a good team this year, so it’s going to be fun knocking off some good teams, and it’s going to be fun watching a lot of guys no one knows about bloom as stars.”