In the final event of nonconference play, the Hoosiers look to improve their rankings at the Midlands Tournament Thursday and Friday hosted by Northwestern.
IU is taking 15 wrestlers to compete and bring home the best finish possible while preparing for the toughest part of the campaign, the Big Ten season.
"It's an opportunity to prepare for the toughest part of the season," IU Coach Duane Goldman said. "After this we get into Big Ten matches. This is the last opportunity they will have to wrestle highly ranked guys that are not in their conference and try to move up on the national level."
No. 6 in the 184-pound weight class, Nate Jackson heads into the tournament unbeaten and will take on the most talented weight class of the tournament as there are 10 ranked individuals in that bracket alone.
A bracket with that high of quality is something Jackson craves, and Goldman said the senior needs the competition.
"He has wrestled some good wrestlers and a couple ranked guys, but he is going to meet the toughest competition thus far in the season," Goldman said. "He needs it at this point. It will be a good opportunity for him to see where he is at and continue to move forward."
Along with Jackson, a couple Hoosier wrestlers have a big opportunity to continue moving up in the RPI and crack the national rankings.
Goldman said 157-pound sophomore Jake Danishek and 174-pound freshman Devin Skatzka have a big weekend ahead of them to try to get some big wins and continue to move up.
What makes tournament play different from a dual is the need to be consistent.
Goldman said the wrestlers must keep their head in the game, win or lose, because they are going to have to get ready to compete again in a short amount of time.
The wrestlers had some time off for the holiday, and, just like any time of the season, what they did outside of the practice room will be a good indicator on their success rates.
"It's up to them," Goldman said. "Part of their success lies on what they do out of official practice. They need to make sure they are staying in shape and watching their weight. It is not going to be the same intensity that they are going to have at school, obviously, but it's a great time to get a little bit of a mental break, heal any injuries and get ready for the second half of the season.”