IU wrestling opens its season this weekend with a Saturday afternoon bout at Virginia and a full day at the Hokie Open on Sunday in Roanoke, Virginia.
Virginia finished with a 4-10 record last season and will be looking to make use of its home-gym advantage to start off its season.
Despite competing away from Bloomington, the Hoosiers should have an advantage due to their roster’s experience. IU has three times as many seniors on its squad as Virginia.
IU junior wrestler Buddy Conley said he hopes the positive attitude the team’s seniors have preached can help propel the team to some early wins.
“We’ve got a lot of older guys and that’s really beneficial,” Conley said. “Senior leadership has always had a pretty positive attitude, and the team’s done a great job sticking with that.”
Sunday will be IU’s first appearance at the Hokie Open under new Coach Angel Escobedo. The Hokie Open will welcome more than 500 wrestlers from three different divisions, with the Hoosiers trying to come out on top.
IU won’t be in front of its home crowd until Nov. 30, when Northern Illinois will make the trip to Bloomington, but Escobedo sees an opportunity to take advantage of the team’s start on the road.
“It would be nice to be home, but the different environment will help everyone get tough.” Escobedo said. “That’ll be big for us, with Big Ten stuff coming right around the corner.”
As IU looks to take the next step toward becoming a marquee program, how the team fares against other Big Ten Schools will be key. Penn State and Ohio State have been the champion-runner-up duo for the last two seasons.
But with conference matches not until December, all eyes are pointed toward Virginia.
With a new former champion as head coach, and a team full of talented youth and veteran leadership, the Hoosiers should jump out with plenty of energy behind them.