In the opening matchup of IU wrestling’s dual competition with Penn State, the Wilkinson Hall crowd of 1,962 erupted as Junior Buddy Conley took the lead for the Hoosiers.
Conley’s win started things strong for the Hoosiers, but on his way to the locker room, IU head coach Angel Escobedo pulled him aside for a coaching on what he could have done better.
Even though Conley won his matchup, Escobedo found room for improvement.
Throughout the year, Escobedo has preached a few goals for the season: consistent improvement and staying competitive. Conley’s win showed that progress is happening.
Even though they fell by a score of 35-9, the Hoosiers still managed to triple their scoring from last year’s matchup against Penn State. As it stands, IU wrestling is not a top-tier program, but it’s Escobedo's goal to make it one.
“We’ve got to shoot for the stars and hopefully we can get there,” Escobedo said. “I believe that we can be the best program in the country.”
But with a Big Ten record of 1-5 this season, it’s now impossible for the team to finish with an even standing in the conference. The Hoosiers are 4-9 overall on the season.
After Conley’s win, things slowed down for IU.
Penn State followed Conley’s win by stomping out any momentum IU had gained.
Junior Bo Nikal won the second matchup of the day for the Nittany Lions by pin, which he managed in under one minute. Nikal is currently the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 197 pounds.
Penn State ultimately dominated the matchup, but the IU did pick up some extra scoring from a forfeit in the 133 class.
The matchup could have been a daunting one for the Hoosiers, but Conley believes the team focused on the right things and just couldn’t take down the reigning champions.
“As a team I think we had a pretty good attitude,” Conley said. “They’re a tough team, but there’s a lot of positives to look forward to heading into the next couple weeks.”
The Hoosiers don’t have another matchup for two weeks, so the team will enjoy the break and use it to rest up and get some extra practice in.
IU’s next matchup will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 when Rutgers comes to Bloomington.