After a disappointing start to the season, IU Coach Duane Goldman was eager to see how his squad would respond this week.
IU got its turnaround going with a 35-6 victory over George Mason, including wins in eight of the 10 matches, and carried that success over into its first tournament of the year.
The Hoosiers scored 155.5 points in route to a first place finish at the Navy Classic, clearing second place Navy by 41 points.
In addition to winning the tournament as a team, IU tallied two individual champions and three third place finishers.
Sophomore Elijah Oliver and freshmen Garrett Pepple and Devin Skatzka all came away with third place finishes on the day.
Oliver went 3-1 in route to his third place finish, including two pins that he'll add to his resume. He dropped his semi-final bout by a score of 6-5, but rebounded well with a pin against Binghampton’s Steve Bulozomi to secure third place.
Pepple also went 3-1 and defeated Bucknell’s Zach Firestone 8-2 to take his third place spot.
In the 174-pound weight class, Skatzka improved on his promising start to the season. Skatzka recorded a pin in his opening match and defeated Jon Viruet from Brown in the third place match to secure the podium finish. He is now 6-1 on the season.
Despite the performances from these two freshmen, Goldman wants to see them continue to improve.
“I saw a few sports where both of them have areas to improve, but that’s to be expected,” Goldman said. “That’s something we want.”
The heart and soul of the Hoosiers, No. 6 Nate Jackson, secured a first place finish in dominating fashion. Jackson went 5-0 on the day, including a pin, two tech fall victories and a major decision win over nationally ranked Steven Schneider.
Goldman said Jackson looked comfortable the entire tournament and that it was good to see him defeat another nationally ranked wrestler in the championship bout.
IU sophomore Bryce Martin took first place in the 165-pound weight class by outscoring his opponents 45-22 in five matches.
In the semifinal match, Martin secured a late takedown with 18 seconds remaining to take the match by a score of 5-4.
Martin got better every match, and in the championship bout secured another late takedown with 22 seconds remaining to finish off the championship and win 9-6.
“By the time he made the finals, he was wrestling his best,” Goldman said. “It was good to see him get back into the swing of what he is able to do. He really made some strides from where he started in the beginning of the year.”
With this team victory, the Hoosiers have two weeks off to prepare for their next bouts in a double dual against North Dakota State and SIU-Edwardsville in Edwardsville, Illinois, and the Hoosiers hope to keep their momentum going.
“They are feeling good about the team win, and they will be happy to get back into the practice room and continue to develop,” Goldman said. “Get better week to week, the season is young and it’s a work in progress.”