In the weekend of conference matchups before the Big Ten Championships in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in March, the Hoosiers will be host to senior night against No. 3 Iowa before traveling to Champaign on Sunday to take the mat against No. 10 Illinois.
From a seeding perspective, this weekend is important for wrestlers on the cusp of moving up or down in the standings for the Big Ten Championships.
“There are some big matchups for a few of them,” IU Coach Duane Goldman said. “The seeds are still up in the air. I know both Iowa and Illinois don't want to slip either. These matches are big for them as well. It’s probably the toughest weekend we have had all year when you look at the quality of the two teams that we wrestle. We are just going to put our singlets on, get out there and fight hard to get what we can.”
A part of the senior night festivities will be team leader and 184-pound senior No. 6 Nate Jackson.
In looking forward to the match, Jackson said the matches are personal when he faces off with Iowa because he has lost more than won against them but added it will be good to come out on top this time.
This match in particular is something Jackson said he has been thinking about all season long.
“It is going to be a good night. A lot of people are going to be out there,” Jackson said. “Our fan base has grown a little from last year to this year. I pride myself on helping the fans come out. If we could pack it a little bit, we can have some fun on senior night.”
Jackson is sitting at 98 wins and is an NCAA All-American and No. 6 in the national ranking for his weight class.
Despite all of this success on the mat, he does not want IU followers to remember him because of that success. Rather, he wants to be remembered as someone who always lent a helping hand.
“I just want to be remembered as a guy who anybody could come to ask for advice, guidance or help,” Jackson said. “I just want to be remembered as a mentor. I think of myself as a leader, but even more so, I would like to be a person who can assist people when they need help.”
Goldman said because Jackson always wants to help people on and off that mat, he sees Jackson having an interest in coaching during his future after IU.
When that future comes, Jackson will have decisions like that to make. Until then, he and the Hoosiers will continue to wrestle hard as they have preached all season.
Despite this being the last match for Jackson in the University Gym, this will not be the last time Hoosiers fans see him be apart of IU wrestling.
“My work is not done, not even close to done,” Jackson said. “I am just really grateful for the support system I have had here. It’s like a family. I might be done wrestling at U-Gym, but it won’t be my last time being apart of IU wrestling.”