On Friday night, the Michigan State Spartans travel to University Gym in Bloomington to face the Hoosiers in a duel of two struggling teams.
Both the Hoosiers and Spartans started their seasons off well with six and four non-conference wins, respectively, to help boost their overall record. But as soon as Big Ten play started for both of these squads, the same result followed, as neither team has yet to record a conference win.
However, that is not to discount the overall strength of these two squads. The Big Ten this year is as strong as usual, with 11 of their 14 teams currently in the top 25. Indiana, Michigan State and Maryland finish up the current Big Ten standings.
The Hoosiers have struggled to find any source of success so far in the Big Ten. But when examining their schedule and seeing the likes of No. 1 Penn State, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 8 Michigan, it isn’t hard to see why the Hoosiers have struggled out of the gate.
With the added difficulty of these matches, IU’s strongest wrestlers have begun to separate themselves from the pack. Led by the junior and two time NCAA qualifier, Elijah Oliver, the Hoosiers back him up with their two other qualifiers in junior Jake Danishek and sophomore Devin Skatzka. However, it is the emergence of junior Cole Weaver that has most people talking.
Weaver, from Hudson, Michigan, is currently ranked No. 20 in the nation for his 141-pound weight class. He had his highest finish all season when he finished as the runner-up in the Midlands Championship over winter break. But in looking to build off that decision, he struggled in a 6-4 decision against No. 24 Sal Profaci last match against Michigan. Perhaps another meeting with a Michigan home state team is just what the junior needs to try to get back up to his winning ways.
Weaver mentioned the team’s eagerness to earn their first conference win and went into detail on the message IU Coach Goodman has been preaching to the team.
“It’s all about high effort, Weaver said. “Go out there and give it your all. Leave it on the mat. Effort, effort, effort.”
A win against the Spartans would be a great help to make sure the Hoosiers don’t see themselves at the bottom of the Big Ten standings come the end of the season.
Friday also marks the return of former Hoosier and All-American Roger Chandler as he returns to University Gym.
Chandler, in his second year on the job at Michigan State, is looking to build up the program that was handed to him by long-time coach Tim Minkel when he retired in 2015.
Hoosier fans may remember Chandler as the IU Male Athlete of the year in 1996-1997, as well as for his 134-25 record, which helped him set school records for both career wins (134) and pins (40).
When asked about the return of Coach Chandler to the school he wrestled at, Goodman mentioned that even though Chandler is only in his second year as head coach, he is a veteran coach that has been around for a while.
“Roger was a great competitor, national finalist and one of the most determined and competitive guys I’ve ever had," Goodman said. “I think his career so far has shown that.”
Regardless of the history, both coaches will be looking to gain their teams' first conference victory at 6 p.m.
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IU will take a 12-8 nonconference slate into conference play.
IU has eight more points than last year at this juncture of the meet.
IU is 11-6 overall after its 4-3 win over University of Hawaii on March 14.